Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Evacuations ahoy

It's 1972 all over again in Wilkes-Barre, as authorities have ordered everyone to bug out because of the rising Susquehanna River. The Times Leader and the Citizens' Voice have both bugged out, while WBRE and WYOU are sticking it out at their South Franklin Street newsroom, which was flooded during the Agnes storm of '72.

By the way, be sure to fire off an e-mail if you're one of the journalists affected. How is your outfit coping with the evacuations? And did anyone remember to move Jack Scannella's film?

Stay safe out there. I'll hopefully have an update tomorrow.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

WBRE last bugged out of 62 S. Franklin in 1972, and did so at the 11th hour. All subsequent monster rises on the big river have been "ridden out" by the intrepid and dedicated employees of WBRE, and now of course, WYOU. They've been "ridden out" mostly because no one said, "Hey, look after yourself and your family, go the hell home!" We all have some sense of a noble public service we are obliged to perform, we somehow "owe" the community, so we stay and hope the river doesn't come crashing through the doors and windows like it did in 1972. Most all of us do indeed have a sense of serving the public, really, but there is a limit to it. It would be very interesting to see just where, how, and if the readers of this blog think the line should be drawn. Simply put, do TV/radio/print reporters put themselves in harm's way to notify others of danger, when they could do it just as adequately and effectively from a safe location?

Okay, now my personal take on how this will play out - one or more morons will endanger themselves and a photog to get that great story for the tape. For those dumb enough to do this, I have but one wish; I hope you're working with a photog who has the good sense and guts to tell you to take a flying leap. Or you could do like one very well-known photog in this market did when a self-promoting reporter insisted he do something extraordinarily stupid; he body-slammed the reporter(a large male) against the side of a live truck. It happened, I saw it.

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was surprised that the newspapers bailed out. I would be -ready- to bail but otherwise would continue operations at my main office. If the worst should happen, they'll be listening to the scanners and ought to be able to scoot to higher ground ahead of the water.

This would be a good night for a joint media party atop the Boscov's parkade.

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vicki Mabrey live from Wilkes-Barre on Nightline. Luzerne County Courthouse in the background. Lots of talk of levees and of piling weakenings. Lots of talk of "the mayor" but no "Tom Leighton." You know McGroarty would be right there with her. Not the most insightful report ever. No video, either.

Vicki got beat by the guy in Reading who's got the galoshes. She should have headed for Old Forge.

11:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is WBRE and WYOU staying in Wilkes-Barre? Does anyone know?

12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a journalist but a recent Maryland j-school grad and lifelong Wilkes-Barre resident...I've been following along from here in College Park with WNEP's video content (which, I have to say, has been stellar, as has their overall coverage). It's just terrifying.

I say that not because this is anything new. I mean, obviously, we all know the Agnes stories. My family (all 12 of them in one house) were flooded out of South W-B and couldn't go back for months. As cruel irony would have it, I won an SPJ award for a package I did detailing the effects the Susquehanna has on the Chesapeake (i.e., the Agnes flood waters killed most of the seafood in the 70s, and the Bay has yet to recover). I included Super-8 footage of my family returning home for the first time. You can see my grandmother grab her chest and stand speechless, staring at the wreckage. It's just utterly scary to think this could happen again. And no one saw it coming.

I lived through the scare of January 1996. I helped my grandparents move their stuff to the upper floors and evacuate their house at 3:00 a.m. I had seven family members in my house for the night (I'm OK because my house is on South Main Street on top of the hill between Blackman St. and the Hanover Twp. line). Now, watching this all from 200 miles way, I just feel so helpless.

I'm going home either tomorrow or Friday, depending on how things play out, but I just want to take a moment to thank everyone in the W-B/Scranton media for doing such an excellent job of informing us without escalating the panic (unlike the New York Times, which is reporting that the Susquehanna in W-B "escaped its banks"...well sure it did, in Kirby Park, but not over the dikes...bit of a distinction to be made). WNEP, in particular, has been all over this and I can honestly say watching them work has made me proud to have chosen this vocation.

1:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Judging by the web sites, WNEP is the only tv station capable of reporting this subject. Facts, figures, pictures, video- they've got it all. BRE and the ugly stepsister YOU each feature one loaf of day-old bread and a whole lot of last week's news.

My question is why do the two laughing stock alliance members bother having a website? Then again, considering the frequency of updates, I think that's a question they frequently ask themselves.

Also, the story is important but going home afterward is more important. I think we all need a dose of common sense at some point. It's too late when the wall of water is chasing you down the hall.

4:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, an unbiased review of WNEP's web efforts, obviously filed by one of WNEP's web lackies.

I thought all the stations did a fine job of informing their traditional audiences in the traditional way, over the air.

On the radio side, WILK's efforts are to be applauded, but it also points out that WILK is the ONLY station still doing news in the area. "If this had been an actual alert," if people were wading through waist-deep water trying to get to safety, your web page (and your 60" HDTV) would be of damn-all use to anyone. Radio would have been our lifeline, and only WILK upheld its end.

8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:50 a.m.--WBRE and WYOU are covering the Luzerne County officials' news conference live. WNEP has a juggler on "Good Morning America."

But I'm sure 16's coverage of the event on its web page will be phenomonal.

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...






9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

16's video of communities all around the region can't be matched, especially since they started using Skycam Wednesday afternoon.

Unfortunately, 16's information and perspective has been seriously lacking. Crawls last night had nothing on river levels, communities involved in the Wyoming Valley evacuation, the curfew, etc. They just kept telling viewers that pets could be left at the SPCA. 22 and 28 had much more on their crawls.

WBRE and WYOU had live shots from news conferences in Wilkes-Barre that announced the evacuation order Wednesday and the end of the evacuation this morning. WNEP covered neither live.

During newscasts, 16 has repeatedly given river level information without telling viewers what happens to property at the various heights.

16 isn't living up to its historical leadership during a disaster. This is the station that won an RTNDA award for Ivan coverage in 2004?

Anyone have an explanation?

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WNEP once again shows why they are the leader in W-B/Scr. And based on their effort on their website (I realize they are not related), WBRE and WYOU are probably overrated. Their sites are horrible...and so outdated (saying things like "watch WBRE for updates" certainly doesn't help those who are now out of town!) Congrats to WBRE for airing raw video, frequent updates on the flooding (and putting it on their website!) and all their efforts.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

You folks are omitting the stellar job done by the Wilkes-Barre City Emergency Radio Station, WPUU.

WPUU? Emergency Radio Station? Wazzat??

Well, dear city officials, you have a radio station. An emergency radio station, up at the top end of the AM band. It broadcasts news of the Farmer's Market contests, trash pickups for this week and then taps into the NOAA Weather Radio for a quickie forecast.

At least, that's what it usually does and that's what it was doing when I listened during the emergency.


You can't do as good a job as the tv and radio stations, but you can do it constantly on your tape or computer loop. And you can keep telling people to listen to it.


12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watch WBRE/WYOU for updates???

What about the people in the area who don't have BRE/YOU on their cable???

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Web lackey? Hardly. Sowers' use (or abuse) of the delete button in the "Talkback 16" section is about as heavy-handed as a dictator can get. Negative comments? Comment not in line with official station policy? Zap!

What I'm saying is in this day of instant info, where you're only a click away from the answer to your question, BRE and YOU are pathetic.

Let's say you're one of thousands who are at work and don't have access to a TV. So you click on to get the latest update on your hometown. NEP gives you everything you need. The other two give you indigestion as you re-read last week's news.

And how about those people who evacuated and find themselves sitting in a coffee shop or a mall or a friend's house with their laptops and little else. So they take advantage of the internet connection. Is it more comforting to look at stories from last week or info on when you can return home?

No one's perfect. But honestly, if you put NEP against the others, the others ought to be embarassed.

But I guess it's better to work in hell than be unemployed and sending resumes to anywhere that will accept one. Hello, Elmira!

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This just in from the home office... the Top Ten Follow-up stories following the Flood of Oh-Six (thanks to WNEP~TV for naming this rainfall less than four seconds after the water started to rise)

10. Pump it out, scoop it up (bonus points to the crew who can find the soldier who just returned from Iraq, JUST in time to help his or her family recover from the flood).

9. Less than twelve weeks until the Bloomsburg Fair, will they be ready? (with updated countdowns with every subsequent follow-up story).

8. Is flood insurance a good idea, where do I get some, and how much does it cost (perhaps the new WBRE Consumer Reporter from WBNG can help out on that one) ** Reporters, don't all jump on this one at once **

7. County by County coverage on response times and how they (we) can do better next time... hurricane season is a-coming ya know!

6. Shop-vacs are flying off of store shelves... as are mud shovels, not just for snow anymore! Can stores meet demand? Is there price gouging?

5. Hanging out with former WBRE reporter Julie Bidwell, er I mean Banderas, just arriving in Wilkes-Barre for FOX News. Does she miss the Valley with a Heart? We report and you decide!

4. Knocking down the house that only fell half-way. It's the lead story if it is a church, landmark, or school for the less fortunate.

3. Good news for those in the construction business... big bucks for big builders! Be sure to visit when summer is at it's worst and get them sweating it out on the roof... bonus points if crews can cut two packages and call one of them "Beat the Heat".

2. How are the crops "in our area", will we be paying more for fresh produce come harvest time? Make this a lead story if there is a drought later this year and if there is a quote from an angry farmer yelling something to the effect, "first a flood, now a drought, I just cannot win".

1. And the number one follow-up story after the flood of Oh-Six..... PennDOT cannot fix potholes this summer because it now has to fix bridges (this just after an initial story on bridge inspections, and let's be sure to follow-up with a September story on angry motorists who keep hitting potholes.

10:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The coverage this year just may be a sign of the times. While 16 seemed to pour (pun) most of their efforts into thier website, the other stations focused on their on-air information. Is there a clear-cut winner ? Hard to say.

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given what resources each station have(and there really are only two - 16 and 50), it was pretty much an even performance. While I don't think any one individual did a stand-out performance, I don't think any one of them did a bad job, either. Put another way, The Flood of '06 didn't make any careers.

NEP's chopper gave them an insurmountable lead, and there is no way around it. Website-wise, this may have been the first instance locally of the internet's shining and lifesaving moments.

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work for Nexstar and I am entirely embarrassed about the website situation.

Employees are always badgering management about it. I don't think they're really interested in the web war that we haven't even begun to fight.

It's a real damn shame that someone couldn't have been appointed "web-update" man or woman for just at least Wednesday night... don't go to or they're too embarrassing.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The damndest thing is, WBRE had a webmaster before most people had ever heard the term. A guy named Steve(a very bright guy) had the sole full time position of maintaining the website all the way back in, oh, 1998, maybe even 1997.

Can you be everywhere at once? WNEP comes close, and they did it again this time around. Clearly, 16 was miles ahead of 50.

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WBRE HAD a webmaster, but part if not most of his salary came from an outside source. Once that matching grant was over, so was the webmaster.

Love the top ten list of follow up story ideas. You just KNOW they will all be on at some point.

10:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is how 16 stays well ahead... they pound the outlying areas and rake in the viewers. They must be the the sole-watched station in many far-out counties.

With that said, I think BRE holds most of Wilkes-Barre, but only because they hammer away the stories about Wilkes-Barre and Luzerne County, not to forget about Hazleton.

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WBRE HAD a webmaster, but part if not most of his salary came from an outside source. Once that matching grant was over, so was the webmaster.

Not exactly the way it was. Over time, he was supposed to wean himself off of a salary and draw his income from web ads that would be slapped all over WBRE's site, ads which he was supposed to sell. The potential, I suppose, was there for him to make some serious money. The guy wasn't a sales rep, he was tekkie, so that never worked out and he was gone.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw 28's Andy credit Hazleton's WYLN-TV for giving them their helicopter video footage of the flood waters. WYLN is a low power TV/cable operation that covers the Hazleton and Berwick areas. That was pretty nice, henna?

8:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a little bit of info that 16 and its bloated ego have not thought of. When a new owner comes in and starts chopping heads, it will be a blood bath. If the station is really that far ahead in the ratings, new owners are going to say, "well why so we need half of this cost (skycam etc) if we are that far ahead? The same corporate bullshit that took 28 and 22 down is now infiltrating 16 in light of the pending sale. WNEP will be cut to bare bones, because the expensive groundwork was set by The New York Communist Times. They spent the money that put 16 on top, and the new owners will step in and cut the budget because as it has been said before...."It would take a lot for 28 and 22 to catch up. Here comes the ax people and it is aimed at all your collective overpaid necks.

6:18 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home