Charlie Brown beats recall coverage
By Jim Camden
When the results of the mayoral recall were announced Tuesday night, the Spokane news media sprang into action to present the numbers and gather the comments. Two of the community’s television news operations went live, but one – KXLY – did not.
This certainly wasn’t a determination that the recall wasn’t newsworthy. Just a few hours earlier, anchor Richard Brown complained on the 5 p.m. newscast that The Spokesman-Review had no recall story in the paper that election day; at 6 p.m., he begrudgingly corrected that assessment to concede the paper had carried a story – small, on page B3 and without even the name of the mayor – although it wasn’t clear if Brown was most upset with the station’s crack news research staff for overlooking the story, or for the paper’s decision to stick with its policy of carrying only a small reminder story on the day of the election.
It can’t possibly be that KXLY was accusing the newspaper of under-covering the scandal surrounding Mayor Jim West. Another media outlet the station often partners with, The Pacific Northwest Inlander, had opined about 10 days earlier that The Spokesman-Review should essentially cease and desist from West coverage.
But that was at 6 p.m., and the recall results were announced at 8:10 p.m. The station didn’t cut away from programming to show numbers being scribbled on a white board or recall supporters hugging. Instead, it sent the results across the bottom of the screen in what’s known in the TV biz as a crawl.
A station source says that’s because network programming that night was the much beloved “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” As families with young children gathered to warm their hearts and tap their toes to C. Brown’s lesson on the true meaning of the holiday, it seemed inappropriate to break in with news of the mayoral scandal. (“Mommy, what’s Gay.com?” “Ask your father while I call the station and have a chat with THEM.”)
In any case, it seems like a good choice under the circumstances. Our station source said KXLY did get a couple of complaints from people who taped the show for annual viewing and weren’t happy that they’ll be watching the results crawl in coming years.
Sunday, December 11, 2005