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Policy on late night/ overnight breaking news.


tvnewsjunkie

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I was watching CNN last night after seeing on Twitter that they had found parts of what looked like could be from the missing Malaysian plane. Its was around 11:20 and they were streaming CNN International's coverage on CNN USA. I was wondering what cable news networks and broadcast networks do when their is late breaking news. Do they do a special report when no that many people are watching or do they just push it off till their regular scheduled newscast?

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FOX News Channel broke in at approximately 1:30am on the east coast to update the situation. Shepard Smith did a 30 minute update and they just put that on repeat.

 

Usually, FNC has an overnight anchor for updates at the bottom of the hour. That anchor usually handles breaking news, but I guess if it's 'important' breaking news, Shep covers it.

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CNN was live from at least 11:45pm when I tuned in till sometime after 2am which is I went to bed. MSNBC at one point only had a breaking news banner over the Rachel Maddow show repeat. I did noticed that FOX did a loop because I changed the channel at 2am to see what they were doing Shepard Smith said, "It is 1:30am on the east coast." I immediately started laughing cause it was 2am.

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The big 3 didn't break in to their programming to cover the story last night. Nightline did have an updated West Coast version that covered the new developments. I don't think the networks felt that the news warranted breaking in to cover it especially with the overnight programs starting up in about 2 hours. Had something credible actually been found then they would have broke in no doubt.

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CNN was live from at least 11:45pm when I tuned in till sometime after 2am which is I went to bed. MSNBC at one point only had a breaking news banner over the Rachel Maddow show repeat. I did noticed that FOX did a loop because I changed the channel at 2am to see what they were doing Shepard Smith said, "It is 1:30am on the east coast." I immediately started laughing cause it was 2am.

 

MSNBC did eventually go wall-to-wall about the time the Australian press conference started. About an hour later Chris Jansing came in and began anchoring. Right before I went to bed they even had Brian Williams on the phone. Fox actually came on shortly after CNN (closer to Midnight ET) but when Shepard wrapped up at 2 AM they just kept repeating the same 1:30 half hour after that.

 

One bizarre thing I noticed last night is that CNN initially began with a CNNi simulcast, but at around 11:45 CNN/US broke into its own simulcast with Don Lemon (and later Anderson Cooper) complete with the full breaking news open without any warning or handover. Not sure if CNNi continued on any past but when I checked a while later they were showing the US coverage too.

 

As far as the original question I think as always it depends on the nature of the news that's happening. It's clear there has been lot of interest in this story so all the cable nets doing at least some overnight coverage, with big names too, was probably a no-brainer. I wouldn't have expected the broadcast networks to do anything with this outside the normal late night/early morning shows. I'm pretty sure I can count on one hand the number of times the broadcast nets have had long-form coverage in the overnight hours for true breaking news (not a scheduled/pre-planned event) in the last 15-20 years.

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I don't know if this is what you're asking but I've seen local stations stay on for late breaking news. I know here in NYC when there was a shooting at the garden state plaza mall WPIX was the only station really extending coverage. WNYW signed off at around 11:30 or so. But WPIX was on until at least 1AM. It really wasn't necessary, but they were waiting for a press conference that was supposed to happen at 1:30 and they waited but it was delayed so they signed off. Besides events like Sandy, NYC local stations have never really stayed on overnight.

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If I recall correctly when Osama Bin Ladin died it began with MSNBC anchor and when David Gregory showed up at the DC bureau NBC broke into an episode of The Apprentice. The coverage was simulcast on both channels and I believe it was initially produced by MSNBC (they used some of the special report lower thirds but other parts were MSNBCs package) then when Brian Williams got into the 30 Rock he anchored from the flash cam in MSNBCs newsroom. After President Obama spoke they tossed NBC back to their affiliates and Brian kept anchoring MSNBCs coverage late in the night.

 

During other news events that aren't fully worthy of an anchor breaking into late night programming NBC and CBS will run a breaking news crawl and repeat it a few times. I believe both of their breaking news crawls were shaped like an L Bar with nothing on the vertical portion and the text on the horizontal, I guess they did not want to squeeze the picture rather shrink it and keep it in the original aspect ratio.

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If I recall correctly when Osama Bin Ladin died it began with MSNBC anchor and when David Gregory showed up at the DC bureau NBC broke into an episode of The Apprentice. The coverage was simulcast on both channels and I believe it was initially produced by MSNBC (they used some of the special report lower thirds but other parts were MSNBCs package) then when Brian Williams got into the 30 Rock he anchored from the flash cam in MSNBCs newsroom. After President Obama spoke they tossed NBC back to their affiliates and Brian kept anchoring MSNBCs coverage late in the night.

 

You recall correctly. Bravo, sir.

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3 years ago there was a horrendous natural gas explosion in Allentown, PA and a huge fire as a result ... in the end it leveled an entire block, killed 5 people, and started a nationwide push to replace aging cast iron gas pipelines. But, it happened around 10:45 pm - WFMZ was live on the air doing the 10:30 Berks Edition show, and they broke into breaking news coverage and I believe stayed on air until at least 1 am. Really remarkable for a small station, and using the same anchors (Rob Vaughan & Wendy Davis) all the way through till 1 AM, since they start with the 5 pm show. But it was a terrible tragedy and one of the biggest stories ever to hit Allentown and the surrounding area.

 

I do know that WFMZ also simulcasts CNN in the event of a huge breaking national news story, simply because they don't have the resources to do their own coverage in times like that.

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One bizarre thing I noticed last night is that CNN initially began with a CNNi simulcast, but at around 11:45 CNN/US broke into its own simulcast with Don Lemon (and later Anderson Cooper) complete with the full breaking news open without any warning or handover. Not sure if CNNi continued on any past but when I checked a while later they were showing the US coverage too.

 

CNN's approach was odd.

 

Usually they would just simulcast the CNNi feed overnight when there is breaking news and not bother gathering the US team for their own coverage. Their approach to the coverage last night was outside of the norm for them and seemed kind of disorganized IMHO.

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CNN's approach was odd.

 

Usually they would just simulcast the CNNi feed overnight when there is breaking news and not bother gathering the US team for their own coverage. Their approach to the coverage last night was outside of the norm for them and seemed kind of disorganized IMHO.

 

I'm not surprised at all they opted to let CNN/US head things given how aggressive they've been on covering the story and the response in their ratings, but I agree it was a bit disorganized in the early going especially with those transitions, or lack of.

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CNNi was on CNN then CNN started their own coverage and CNNi switched to CNN's coverage.

 

This week CNN has been simulcasting CNNi at 3am then Early Start comes on at 4am.

 

As mentioned FNC had Shep's coverage from 1:30am repeating at 2am-4am. They did go live around 3:45am for 5min then went back to Shep on tape. F&F First came on at 4am.

 

Not only did Chris Jansing anchor 2am-6am. She was back for her newscast at 10am.

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CNNI break ins on CNNUS overnights used to be somewhat frequent. If any news broke overnight, CNNI would break in, even if it was just a few minutes at the top of the hour, or they would keep going if it was a really big story, and American Morning would start early sometimes. It seemed like CNNI and CNNUS became a little bit closer at the end of the Klein era and for a lot of the Jautz era when they used the same graphics for a while, and it became somewhat common to see CNNI Atlanta anchors appear during Newsroom. And before there was Newsroom International/Around the World, there was a full hour of Your World Today simulcast at noon ET way back when.

 

The international influence on CNNUS been scaled back quite a bit since Zucker took over. There's also no way CNNI would be covering the MH370 flight wall-to-wall with simulcasts on CNNUS without Zucker there. Some tipsters on other websites have also said that Zucker has openly questioned CNNI's existence at executive meetings. Who knows how much truth there is to any truth to that, though I could certainly see that being asked.

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Back in 2006 in Cary NC (outside of Raleigh) there was a gas leak at a chemical plant that eventually resulted in an explosion. If I remember correctly, WRAL, ABC11, and NBC17 all stayed on the air covering it through the night and into the morning until everything was deemed safe.

 

That's the only time I ever remember local overnight breaking news coverage for something that wasn't weather-related.

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Nightline blew out their planned pieces on Wednesday night and covered the Australian search efforts for the entire East Coast edition and, like the earlier poster said, aired an updated West Coast edition.

 

ABC produced a two hour special report with Rob Nelson in summer 2012 for the mass shooting at the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater. That aired overnight/early morning, as did the special report about Pope Benedict XVI resigning.

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I finally have a chance to sit down and reply to this. Anyway, most networks keep an anchor "camera ready" at all times. For example, I remember Randi Kaye of CNN stating this once when discussing working on the holidays as she was the designated anchor. If memory serves me correct the "camera ready" crew (anchor, control room staff, etc.) had to be ready to go in at least 10-15 minutes or something like that. Depending on how "big" the news is said anchor might be serving as just a seat warmer until the "face" of the network gets to the studio. AFAIK That's about as close as you will come to a policy regarding breaking news.

 

So, my guess with CNN is that were slow to react. Either, they were originally content with using CNNi or, CNNus was slow to get going for whatever reason and they used CNNi to fill the void. Basically, they might not have thought it was "big" news and were content with using CNNi, they felt pressured to react because the competition was, found out about the presser late or, some combination there of. Hence, the disjointed approach from CNN.

 

The issue is there is no set rule that this is "breaking news" and this is not. As mentioned already the cable newsers are a little more trigger happy so to speak as they are already running news 24/7. The broadcast networks tend a little more pragmatic in their approach. However, the broadcast networks have been known to break-in overnight if they feel it's newsworthy. Beat me to it but, as wabceyewitness mentioned the networks will break-in as done for the Aurora shooting. I was pulling the early shift that day and remember waking up at 3am to those reports. But, I could have sworn ABC was running with the whole WNN crew, I thought Paula Faris Rob's co-anchor at the time was with him was there as well. IDK, maybe I'm misremembering. But, a couple stations did "break-in" on the local level here for that story as well. Although, they were mostly simulcasting their sister stations in Denver (WCCO->KCNC & KARE->KUSA) with periodic VO's from the local anchor to bring the viewer up to speed.

 

In summary there isn't a hard and fast rule. Weather it's cable, broadcast or local if that particular entity finds it "newsworthy" enough they will break-in...even if it's overnight.

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I had forgotten about the Aurora shooting. I think ABC was the only broadcast net that did a lengthy SR on that one.

 

A lot of times CBS and ABC will use their early morning shows (UTTM/WNN) as a way to do extended coverage live without an official network-wide report, assuming of course its a weekday morning. That's the way CBS largely handled the early Watertown events related to the Marathon Bombings, mostly by airing WBZ's coverage.

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