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As a 35k Acre Wildfire Rages in L.A. County, Where's Your Local TV News?
Local television news, so quick to cut into programming for car chases, and often repetitive non-stop coverage of celebrity-involved incidents (i.e. the death of Michael Jackson) has been eerily quiet this weekend as the Station Fire--one of three current blazes raging in Southern California--has prompted the evacuation of more than 6,600 homes, threatens 12,000 structures, and has blazed through 35,000 acres and is growing with 5% containment.
This weekend, television coverage has been limited to the already limited scheduled news broadcasts on all the major network affiliates (CBS-2/KCAL-9, NBC-4, ABC-7, KTLA/The CW-5, KTTV/Fox-11). Opportunities to go live to share updates about evacuations, fire lines, school and road closures, and air quality have been missed in favor of airing national network sports events, sitcom reruns, and the ubiquitous infomercial. During a press conference held this morning by the Governor and other local officials, abc7 opted to cut their coverage at 11 a.m. while Supervisor Mike Antonovich addressed the media and public in order to air an episode of the tween-oriented musi-comedy Hannah Montana--a WTF? moment for the over 14 set, no doubt.
The lack of coverage has inspired ire among local bloggers and Twitter users, including Franklin Avenue. One of the voices of dissent belongs to long-time Los Angeles news anchor John Beard, who recently accepted a post in Buffalo, NY. He posted to his Twitter account early this morning the following two thoughts: "Will LA tv take another day off as fires thrtn hmes and lives? Does anybody in mgmnt have the guts to spnd $$ to give viewers critical info" and "Are LA TV Stations not doing live fire coverage (with lives at risk) because they spent so much on excessive Michael Jackson coverage?" Are they, indeed?
For live as-it-happens news your best bet is to tune into news radio, like KNX1070 either on the airwaves or online, a suggestion urged by the LAFD's Brian Humphrey too. Online media sources are also working hard this weekend to provide readers concerned about the Station Fire and its impact on the Los Angeles area with information.