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September 26, 2005

The Tribune Review and WTAE-4 News: Lack of Clarity and Comprehensiveness

In lieu of Hurricane Katrina, both print and visual media have become consumed by this headline. Due to this, local news has been down played. One story covered on WTAE-4 News, on the channels website, and in the Tribune Review was the recent Lake Erie plane crash. The story was reported by all three sources, and although the accounts were similar the clarity and comprehensiveness of details relating to the crash varied. The Tribune Review paid close attention to providing clarity and comprehensiveness in regards to where the victims lived, specific crash scene and search details, and both American and Canadian efforts, whereas the local news and website only touched the surface of the events.

Although WTAE is a Pittsburgh channel, they named the home places of the victim’s as “Pennsylvania” (WTAE Channel 4 News). The Tribune Review reported the victim’s as being residents of Butler County. The paper went on to report the actual airports at which the three visited (Keat A13). The more localized regions listed in the paper provide a more comprehensive coverage of the accident. Detail to location also makes the story more relevant to local readers, for Butler County is a neighboring county and closer to home than if the accident had occurred in Harrisburg or Philadelphia.

The ambiguity continued in the reporting of the crash scene and search efforts. The news briefly mentioned both by saying, “U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards have called off rescue efforts for three Pennsylvania residents,” (“Couple...”). The Tribune Review clarified the calling off of search efforts by concluding that efforts were called off due to “the temperature of the water and given the conditions of the (airplane) parts,” (Keats A13). The added support and clarity given in the newspaper, leads to fewer questions from the audience. Both sources also touched upon the wreck scene, but once again contrasting reports were given. The WTAE broadcast described the crash scene as “plane debris.” The Tribune review listed specific items such as a victim’s shoe.

Finally, the Tribune Review accounted on the fine details of the search, whereas WTAE only mentioned the names “ U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard,” with no details regarding what they actually did (WTAE Channel 4 News). The Tribune Review’s details included the mentioning of the Canadian Coast Guard sending boats and aircrafts. There were even specifics on the type of plane that was being flown by the pilot James Regal: “a single engine piper” (Keat A13). On the news and on the WTAE website there were only the broad terms “a plane.”

On the first day of class, I learned that clarity, comprehensiveness, and relevance are all key ingredients to effective reporting of the news. A lack of any of these elements lead to problems for the reader who will either become bored by the article or will be bothered by unanswered questions. In this assignment I was asked to find differences between the reporting of the same story by WTAE and the Tribune Review. I did not find discrepancy in the facts of the accident, but I did find differences in clarity and comprehensiveness between the two articles. The minute details reported in the Tribune Review left me with a more thorough understanding of the victim’s, the accident itself, and the search efforts, compared to the ambiguity present in the reporting from WTAE.

Posted by JennaOBrocto at September 26, 2005 11:03 PM


Jenna ----

I so see your point - there are hardly as many details on the news, than in the news.

Remember doing that time sheet in class? It is amazing how much they are not reporting on TV.

Posted by: Katie Aikins at September 26, 2005 11:52 PM

You know what else I don't like about WTAE? Doppler Radar.

Posted by: Michael Dell at September 27, 2005 12:44 AM

Great job, Jenna. I can see from your Admissions blogging, your own blog, and your comments in class that you're putting all this information to use. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at September 27, 2005 9:13 AM

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