COMMENTS: Amateur Eyewitness News
In the contemporary world of video newsgathering, jaw dropping images do not have to be recorded by the news organization that airs them, or even by journalists. If the scenes are compelling enough sooner or later they can be packaged together as a news story. So NBC kicked off its newscast with four minutes of week-old footage taken by an unidentified citizen of Beichuan in Sichuan Province. It showed the first few minutes after that earthquake struck. The scenes were narrated not by an NBC staffer but by a British journalist working for ITN, NBC's newsgathering partner. They may not be current. They may be amateur. They are riveting, deservedly the Story of the Day. Anchor Brian Williams recounted the reaction at NBC News: "It brought the place to a standstill." At Tyndall Report it brought tears to the eyes.
ITN's Bill Neely provided the voiceover to the video. Check out the reaction just 20 seconds after the earthquake struck as citizens look off in horror to the cameraman's left as buildings start collapsing. Later look at the three boys screaming for help in an upper window of a primary school whose stairwells are blocked by rubble. Look at the volunteers forming ad hoc rescue squads.
On ABC, Stephanie Sy profiled a shattered village that had "lost a large part of an entire generation." Because the earthquake struck in the middle of the afternoon, the schools were full of children. "In most of them there were very few survivors. Everywhere we turned in Wudu we met childless parents who had dutifully obeyed China's one child policies."
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