Saturday, January 19, 2008

ABC 33/40 Gets Snow Coverage Award!

They may not have been the only ones on, but the folks at WBMA-TV ABC 33/40 seem to have done the best job all-around with the coverage of the breaking news on the winter weather.

Why are they the winner?

It's the cross-media coverage plan that seems to have executed well. At this hour, as the snow has tapered off in our West Alabama area-- the TV stations have also ended their continuous over-the-air coverage.

Branding their coverage under the banner of the "Alabama Freeze," the meteorologists are clearly having fun as they provide the latest information.

At 6 a.m., WBMA, the ABC affiliate in Birmingham, WVTM, the NBC affiliate and WBRC, the FOX affiliate were all on with special editions of their morning shows. (Some of the stations were on-the-air with updates overnight)

Now, as it approaches noon, ABC 33/40 staff are still doing a live web-only program.

They had a special Webcast last night.

The station's chief meteorologist, James Spann, the most well-known weather personality in the state, and his staff have been providing a live stream wall-to-wall all morning.

ABC 33/40 have been taking in photos using a Flickr Web site and showing that online

"Seeing the faces of the children is what this is all about," said Spann, who putting a number of the kids and snow photos in the live Web stream.

Using their network of skycams and their web log, the staff members there have been able to add a whole different aspect to the coverage that can be dcne over-the-air.

This is a story where the newspapers (and their Web sites) just could not compete. But, they didn't cede the BREAKING NEWS territory to the TV folks entirely.

It is interesting that, the state's biggest news WEb site streams ABC 33/40's signal. But, apparently the newsroom chose not to do a great deal of aggressive updating on the winter weather today.

Among the state's largest newspapers, The Tuscaloosa News was among the first to post a fresh story on today's winter weather. Anna Maria Della Costa, the assistant managing editor for content, wrote an update, acknowledging that it ( the snowy weather) was "short-lived" and no major cancellations had been reported.

The photo here was taken by The Tuscaloosa News Photo Editor Robert Sutton. He interviewed the student, Thomas Harrison, a sophomore at the University of Alabama from Mobile.

"It's awesome," said Harrison, "Something I have not seen in about 12 years."

According to Sutton's cutline, dozens of students went to the quad to play in the snow.

Not to be outdone by their similar-sized rival newspaper on the West Side of the state, the Anniston Star ALSO posted a fresh story this story.

My colleague, Andy Johns (who I worked with as a part of the Knight Fellows in Community Journals Program) , had a new story posted at 11:11 a.m.

Anniston Star Metro Editor Ben Cunningham, another colleague, took this photo in Jacksonville this morning. (Looks similar to the photo I took here in Tuscaloosa)

By the way, even while I was writing this blog update-- the SNOW on my front lawn-- and the roofs of houses in my neighborhood (see pictures in earlier post) has MELTED.

So, at least for now, this morning's snow in Tuscaloosa is HISTORY!

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