COMMENTS: Shuffle off to Buffalo

The week ended on a light day of news as the network newscasts reached no consensus on the agenda. NBC chose to start its newscast with a preview of the weekend's shopping as a barometer for the overall retail health of the Christmas holidays. ABC followed up on the weeklong early winter storm that left a blanket of snow on the southern shores of the Great Lakes. CBS led with the five students from the Washington DC area who continue to be held in a Pakistani jail, suspected as terrorist wannabes. The lackluster coverage of the winter storm qualified, barely, as the Story of the Day.

For domestic weather stories, the national networks often like to showcase talent from a local affiliate battling a storm on the scene. Scott Brown of WGRZ-TV, NBC's Buffalo affiliate, grabbed his moment in the spotlight in Ron Allen's report with a perfectly executed tonguetwister: "A foot of snow and high winds has meant a lot of slow going and snow blowing." The story from Buffalo was that the overnight blizzard was so heavy that a 50-mile stretch of I-90 had to be shut down, stranding as many as 100 vehicles. "The Interstate became a snowy parking lot. Plows could not keep up," ABC's David Kerley reported from upstate. No one was harmed by the freezing overnighter.

CBS decided not to send Jim Axelrod to the scene to see the snow. He filed from outdoors in a frigid Times Square as he voiced over videotape of the blocked Thruway and useless traffic lights in Green Bay. "This is one frozen calling card," he complained, as a total of 17 were killed by the week's weather nationwide.


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