Expert hotlines. Viewers had many questions. Will my husband be activated?
Do I need to buy gas masks for my family? How do you explain the war to
Viewer involvement. People wanted to support the troops and contribute.
Various programs let them contribute money to help the families or to write
those in action.
Interview pools. Station executives in several markets organized systems to
reduce the media visits to the homes of grieving people who had loved ones
killed in action.
They prepared for the worst
Being ready was crucial.
"One of the things which has worked was the extensive planning we put into this
ahead of time," said Paul Sands, News Director of KGTV, San Diego.
They had built a graphics package and drawn up 26 assignments.
Within 4 hours after the bombing began, they had 12 separate packages in the can for
their first newscast.
Shortly before the U.N. deadline, staffers began monitoring all the network feeds, no
matter what time of day, so if anything happened they could punch it on the air.
"We were the first on the air with the news in San Diego. We were monitoring the
early feed of Jennings, and as soon as Gary Shepard started reporting, we punched up
a Special Report slide and went right to it," said Sands.
The 11 p.m. news was expanded to 90 minutes on the night the bombing began.
Their two main anchors read the show, and an early show anchor joined them and took
viewer telephone calls.
"This is a Navy town in a lot of ways, but we have had a mixture of calls," Sands said.
Some didn't think the country should have gone to war.
"Our anchor acted as a good talk show host, talking back and forth with them and
listening, too," he said.
During the 90-minute broadcast, the call-ins ran twice for a total of about 40 minutes.
Sands thought it let the viewers feel someone was listening to them and they had a
chance to be heard.
He told us, "We did radio on television. People want to talk about this thing. We were
able to give them a voice."