COMMENTS: Early Winter in Wisconsin

A quartet of stories attracted the unanimous attention of the assignment desks at all three nightly newscasts. All three filed updates on the United Nations' global warming conference in Copenhagen; all three covered a new plan from Senate Democrats for a federal government role in the healthcare system; all three followed five inside-the-Beltway college students to Pakistan where they were found consorting with a suspected terrorist and arrested. The Story of the Day--and the choice to lead off all three newscasts--was the winter weather that has descended early on the northern plains.

NBC and CBS both consulted meteorologists on the frigid wind chill that followed early winter snows. NBC used Mike Seidel of its cable TV sibling The Weather Channel for a forecast from Des Moines. CBS used Dave Price (at the tail of the Reynolds videostream), weathercaster for its Early Show, in the Minneapolis suburbs. As for reporting on the storm, CBS went to Dean Reynolds in Chicago while ABC and NBC had their correspondents in Wisconsin, NBC' John Yang in Waukesha and ABC's Barbara Pinto in Madison. Altogether they told the same story: "high winds and bitter cold"--NBC's Yang…"ferocious winds and bitter cold"--ABC's Pinto…"gale force winds, plummeting temperatures and drifting snow"--CBS' Reynolds.

CBS' Reynolds showed as a storm-tossed lighthouse on Lake Michigan. NBC's Yang pointed to 73 miles of a closed interstate highway in Missouri. "The state of Wisconsin, for all intents and purposes, is shut down," declared ABC's Pinto.


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