A powerful 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand — one of the country’s largest cities — early this morning.  Both TV and print reporters were all over the story, but the way in which they retold it were slightly different.

The news of the devastating earthquake was one of the top stories on ABC’s “Good Morning America” this morning.  While the network did not have a correspondent on the scene, it had a reporter in its New York bureau bring viewers up-to-speed with the situation — and it appeared to get significant help in its coverage from news agencies that had correspondents in place at the sight of the earthquake.

The ABC report presented the most important factual information in its report, but it seemed to be more interested in showing videos and playing soundbites than presenting anything beyond the basic facts.

By contrast, an Associated Press report — with a dateline of Christchurch — presented much more specific factual information than the ABC report.  It gave more details on some of the people who were affected by the earthquake and gave a broader account of how the situation unfolded.

What the AP report did not do as well as the ABC report, however, was appeal to people’s emotions.

The ABC report, with devastating images of the earthquake’s wreckage and sound bites from a slew of people on the scene, definitely galvanized its audience much more than the AP report did.  But the AP report better informed its audience of the facts from the scene.

This is a major difference in how print and TV reports are presented.  TV reports are more fixated on images and soundbites, while print reports on more interested in presenting the most facts in a story.



On July 25, 1956, a tragedy occurred just off the coast of Nantucket.  In the midst of a foggy night, the SS Andrea Doria collided with the MS Stockholm — resulting in the deaths of about 50 people.

While the Stockholm managed to make it into port in New York on its own terms after the collision (and, if fact, rescued many passengers and crew members of the Andrea Doria), the Andrea Doria sustained too much damage and sunk into the sea just several hours after the collision.

However, before the ship entirely sank, Harry Trask, a photographer with the Boston Traveler (now known as the Boston Herald), managed to catch a flight out to the ship’s location and snap several photographs.  His pictures, considering the era and photographic circumstances, are great — in fact, so great, that he managed to win the Pulitzer Prize for photography that year.

Here is a link to the prize-winning photo.  I would’ve embedded it in this post, but it’s not labeled for re-use.

Many great photographic techniques are used in the photo.  Trask gives us a wide view of the whole ship, helping to put the incident in perspective.  He also sort of uses the three-by-three rule to the best of his ability considering the circumstances; the photo could be split up into the thirds and still have somewhat of a value.

Moreover, what Trask managed to do — get to the scene of an off-shore tragedy just after it happened, and start taking photos — could be grounds for a prize in and of itself.  But his photos really do tell a story of a memorable tragedy.




25 years later

Posted: January 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

Twenty-five years ago today, Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher ever commissioned to go to space, and seven other NASA crew members, died when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff.  McAuliffe was a social studies teacher at Concord High School in Concord, N.H., not far from the town where I grew up.

While I was not yet alive when the incident occurred, I vividly remember my mother recounting her emotions as she witnessed the accident happen on live TV.  And I also remember my fourth grade teacher telling me what it was like to be in a classroom just 30 minutes from the school McAuliffe taught at, watching that scene unfold with a group of 9-year-olds.

The Concord Monitor, the main newspaper in New Hampshire’s capital, has some remembrance stories and first-hand accounts on what it was like to cover that story.  I highly encourage everyone who reads this to check it out.

Lou Grant and days gone by

Posted: January 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

Reporters working around the clock to chase leads.  Editors thoroughly analyzing and organizing coverage of stories accordingly.  And top administrators with a conscience.

All of these thoughts popped into my head after watching two episodes of “Lou Grant.”  And the more I watched the show, the more I longed for the age when newspapers really had a firm grasp on most Americans’ daily lives.

The show does a fairly nice job at balancing dramatic themes and the reality of what might have occurred in newsrooms at that time.  Additionally, it was just plain interesting to watch.

Grant, the eponymous main character who reprises his role from the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” in somewhat different capacity, is a thick-skinned veteran reporter who might appear as tough on the outside, but who is actually someone that has excellent news judgment and a bit of sensitivity in certain circumstances.  As city editor for the Los Angeles Tribune, he has to deal with overseeing a large portion of the newspaper’s operations, while being able to effectively report to his managing editor and to not alienate his publisher.

While difficult at times, Grant carries out his job fairly smoothly.  He is able to provide leadership to his reporters and direct them effectively.  He is also able to significantly influence them and others in certain situations.

Grant manages to eventually get his police beat reporter to break a story that he had been sitting on for awhile about a scandal at one of the city’s precincts.  He is also able to get an old, eccentric, tough judge to allow for an appeal of one of his cases to take place — something that the judge had never previously granted.

But Grant also has a conscience and is sensitive with some things.  He lets an expose on the old judge that was already prepared by two of his reporters fall through the cracks after the judge breaks down and changes his ways.

Grant, though, is helped many times by two excellent reporters who will go anywhere to chase a story down.

But even with all of these great themes and elements, the show does lack in certain things.

There are some things that are just too coincidental to have been able to have actually happened in a real newsroom.  And not once are any of the reporters shown holding notebooks in their hands when interviewing people — something that would’ve had to have happened in order for them to capture things accurately.

However, this show still does a fairly nice job at displaying how newsrooms might have operated at that time.  And, in a way, it makes me wish that I was a reporter back in the day before computers and cell phones existed, and when people got most of their news from newspapers.

What’s up?

Posted: January 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

Hey everyone,

This is Billy Perkins checking in here.  This is blog is to complement my learning experiences in my Journalism 201 class at UMass Amherst.

However, I hope to post a lot of interesting stuff on here in the next few weeks and months.

So, stay tuned…