COMMENTS: Dateline Tacloban

Haiyan, the catastrophic typhoon that made landfall in The Philippines on Friday, continued in the headlines after the weekend. All three newscasts kicked off with footage from Tacloban, the eastern coastal city with a population over 220,000 that bore the brunt of the storm's 195 mph winds and 15-feet-high surge of water. It was the Story of the Day, occupying 44% (26 min out of 58) of the three-network newshole. NBC's coverage was most comprehensive, with four separate packages; ABC's least so, with one package plus a brief stand-up from Manila.

Harry Smith led with way for NBC, folding in coverage from his colleague Angus Walker into his package of corpses and ruined homes and sea-going ships pushed onto dry land by the surge. NBC's in-house physician Nancy Snyderman was based in Cebu City, from where she took a helicopter to visit the ruins of Tacloban's Divine Word Hospital to see dead patients laid out in a makeshift morgue. Nichola Jones of the International Red Cross answered a brief q-&-a on the disaster for CBS anchor Scott Pelley. Both ABC's Gloria Riviera and CBS' Seth Doane included footage of a pregnant woman giving birth amid Tacloban's ruins.

Friday's actual landfall was documented by terrifying footage from Barnaby Lo, a CBS stringer working for CCTV English, who documented the floods destroying his hotel in Leyte. ABC's Riviera included landfall footage from a stormchaser named Jim Edds. At the tail of Riviera's videostream there is Terry Moran's stand-up from Manila, where the US Marine Corps is beginning to fly in relief supplies.

The ex-patriate Filipino-American community is mobilizing. CBS' Don Dahler checked out the relief efforts in Jersey City's Little Manila on the east coast; NBC's Mike Taibbi did the same in Pasadena. Both gave a nod to Team Rubicon for its search-&-rescue response; NBC's Taibbi added the Santa-Barbara-based Direct Relief.

Out of all this coverage, only NBC's Tom Costello did the right thing by including a reference to global warming as a factor to account for the intensity of Typhoon Haiyan. He included a meteorological explanation from Bryan Norcross at NBC's sibling network the Weather Channnel. And then he did what television reporters like to do -- leave the world of journalism and take on the role of central character in his own reality TV show. See the begoggled Tom enter the laboratory at the University of Maryland as a guinea pig to brave the might of its wind tunnel.


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