Last Tuesday evening on CTV News @ 6, a drama unfolded "live" in the living rooms of viewers. The story of a 12 year old boy trapped on a ledge of a precipice with his dog. The story had it all, drama and a happy ending. It took 45 minutes to unfold and was covered start to finish live from western Canada's only news gathering helicopter, CTV Chopper 9. No other news outlet could or did cover the story. Naturally when a news operation gets a story like this, one that their competitors did not have, you can bank on a "follow up" item the next day. The competition then has two choices.
1: attempt to catch up and try to advance the story or
2: ignore it and pretend it even happened.
I want to tell you about the "follow up" item.
On Wednesday the plan was to follow up coverage with an interview with the young lad and his companion. OnCTV made contact with his Mom and arranged to meet the boy at his school. Now here's where a competitor, Global BC, clearly beaten the night before wanted to either A: catch up and advance the story or B: deny it even happened.
But wait, the story of Boy/Dog rescue was leading all of the news radio newscasts and it had been picked up by outher news origanizations across North America. The TV talk shows are calling, wanting our little fellow to appear on their shows (Ellen DeGeneres, Inside Edition and the CBS Early News). Wow this one has legs. So how will Global "deny" it ever happend?
The interview was set up for noon. When the crew arrives at the boy's school and announced themselves at the school office, they are informed the boy is not here. "Another TV Crew picked him up at 11 and was taking him to Burniby to meet Mr. Parsons."
Mr. Parsons? How clever.
What time will the boy be back? There was no answer.
After many attempts to contact his mother, who by the way had been fielding media inquires from all over North America and by the time we reached her, she was, quite frazzled. She was asked about what was going on. She said that Global was going to interview him at the scene of the rescue. No doubt this would help them tell their version of the story that they had missed a day earlier. Thats fair. It certainly won't be as good, as we are the only news origanization with the visuals thanks to our command of the skies. But as time wore on, and the boy had still not been returned to either the school or his home, it became obvious what Global was up to. They have done it in the past. They were attempting to "deny" the boy to CTV. It was planned and it was delibrate.
"Hey Billy have you ever seen a tv station?" "We just got a new coat of paint and have changed our logo." "Do you like our new logo?" What is it you ask? It's a ">", it means we're greater, we're bigger" (Yah, bigger dickheads!)
A conversation with his mom revealed that Global had every intention of keeping him under wraps until 6.
The crew explained to mom what was really going on.
After it was made perfectally clear what kind of games the pin heads at Global were playing, she picked up the phone called thier assignment desk and told them to return her son at once or the next call would be to Police.
The boy was returned promptly, but as gutless as they are over there, he was returned unaccompanied in a cab. I'm surprised they didn't make the boy pay his own fare.
Needless to say it's crap like this, that gives us all in the media a bad name. Their coverage of this international story, one that warranted spending the entire day with the boy eventually turned into a forty second voice over which in the third section of "Mr. Parson's" show. More like buried in section three, if you know what I mean.
However this story, like the one the one the day before, had a happy ending.
At the end of the day he said he enjoyed his ride in the helicopter even more than his tour of the Global> studios.