CONTAINING LINKS TO 35725 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM FEBRUARY 13, 2009
The domestic airline industry's two-and-a-half-year safety streak that was so memorably kept alive last month in the icy waters of the Hudson River came to a fiery end in suburban Buffalo. A Continental Airlines commuter plane fell out of the sky Thursday night as it prepared to land at Buffalo Niagara Airport. All 49 on board were killed as it nosedived into a house and burst into flames; a man who lived in that unlucky house was the 50th death. The crash of Continental Flight 3407 was Story of the Day, accounting for 51% of the three-network newshole (29 mins out of 57) as all three newscasts led from upstate New York. CBS was anchored by substitute Maggie Rodriguez.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR FEBRUARY 13, 2009: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailABCContinental Airlines 3407 crash in Buffalo: 50 deadFalls out of air into house, massive fireballLisa StarkNew York State
video thumbnailCBSContinental Airlines 3407 crash in Buffalo: 50 deadBuild-up of ice on wings may have caused stallNancy CordesWashington DC
video thumbnailNBCContinental Airlines 3407 crash in Buffalo: 50 deadNeighbors offer eyewitness accounts of fireballPeter AlexanderNew York State
video thumbnailABCContinental Airlines 3407 crash in Buffalo: 50 deadAll on board killed, profiled, mournedDavid MuirNew York State
video thumbnailNBCContinental Airlines 3407 crash in Buffalo: 50 deadDead passengers include World Trade Center widowTom BrokawNew York
video thumbnailABCEconomy is officially in recessionFiscal stimulus compromise passes House 246-183Jonathan KarlCapitol Hill
video thumbnailNBCInfluenza seasonTamiflu treatment, vaccine prevention problemsRobert BazellNew York
video thumbnailCBSMilitary personnel suffer mental health problemsSuicide kills more soldiers than combatDavid MartinPentagon
video thumbnailCBSCosmetics have enduring appeal for womenPerson-to-person sales force resists recessionRichard SchlesingerNew Jersey
video thumbnailABCPoverty: endemic in mountains of AppalachiaFamilies can be addicted, hungry, ill-educatedDiane SawyerNo Dateline
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
DOMESTIC AIRLINE TRAVEL TURNS DEADLY The domestic airline industry's two-and-a-half-year safety streak that was so memorably kept alive last month in the icy waters of the Hudson River came to a fiery end in suburban Buffalo. A Continental Airlines commuter plane fell out of the sky Thursday night as it prepared to land at Buffalo Niagara Airport. All 49 on board were killed as it nosedived into a house and burst into flames; a man who lived in that unlucky house was the 50th death. The crash of Continental Flight 3407 was Story of the Day, accounting for 51% of the three-network newshole (29 mins out of 57) as all three newscasts led from upstate New York. CBS was anchored by substitute Maggie Rodriguez.

ABC's Lisa Stark painted the word picture: "The turboprop plunged from the sky, tearing through a house and exploding, its fuel igniting into a massive fireball. Flames reached 50 feet into the air." NBC's Peter Alexander talked to eyewitnesses: "The fire and smoke were blinding, the wreckage only twisted metal." A second shift at the local hospital was ordered to stay late to care for survivors. A nurse told him: "There were no souls to bring in and treat."

The turboprop plane, a Dash 8 Q400, was manufactured in Canada by Bombardier and operated for Continental by Colgan Air. NBC's Tom Costello said Dash 8 is "very well known. They were first manufactured back in 1984. It is a workhorse plane, very reliable." According to the flight recorder, CBS' Jeff Glor told us, the plane began to "pitch and roll wildly" shortly after the crew was heard talking about "significant ice build-up" on the leading edge of the wing. Yet CBS' Nancy Cordes noted that the plane came equipped with "heated propellers to melt the ice and inflatable devices, or boots, on the front edges of the wings to knock ice off." The flight data recorder indicated that de-icing equipment had been turned on. "The big question now is: were they working?"

ABC's in-house aviation consultant John Nance explained the aerodynamics for anchor Charles Gibson. The plane crashed immediately after the crew put down its landing gear and extended its flaps as it prepared to land. The gear and the flaps would slow the plane, probably below "critical air speed" forcing it to stall. If ice had built up on the wing it would "redesign" it, making "a 100 knot wing, one that can fly at 100 knots, all of a sudden unable to fly at slower than maybe 120…This is one of the seductive parts of it. You may not know that you have got that type of situation until you slow too far and then all of a sudden you depart normal flight."

Depart normal flight is such a decorous euphemism.


THEY SHUFFLED OFF FROM BUFFALO ABC's David Muir and CBS' Michelle Miller surveyed the mournful roll of slain passengers: law student Ellyce Kausner; Rwanda genocide expert Alison des Forges; former college hockey player Madeline Loftus; jazz musicians Gerry Niewood and Coleman Mellett. Most prominent was Beverly Eckert. ABC anchor Charles Gibson (embargoed link) recalled interviewing her on Good Morning America. NBC's former anchor Tom Brokaw had covered Eckert too, and he filed a tribute for the Making a Difference feature.

The widow Eckert had been bereaved on September 11th, 2001. She was on Continental Flight 3407 in order to return to her home town to award a high school scholarship in her late husband's memory. Sean Rooney had been working in the South Tower of the World Trade Center when it was attacked. Eckert went on to form Voices of September 11th, an advocacy group that lobbied successfully for the formation of the 9/11 Commission. It was in that activist capacity that Brokaw had covered her. "Her story was at once haunting and inspirational," he reminisced. "It is the story of an elegant woman who, in her grief, gave all of us a lesson in life."


CRASH PUSHES STIMULUS ASIDE The tragedy in Buffalo distorted the remainder of the day's news agenda. There was not a single story filed on any of the three newscasts from a foreign dateline. Even the massacre of 40 Shiite Moslem pilgrims en route to Karbala by a suicidal female bomber was mentioned only in passing. Ordinarily, the passage of fiscal stimulus legislation by the House of Representatives by a 246-183 margin would have grabbed the day's headlines. NBC and ABC covered it from Capitol Hill; CBS assigned it as a White House story to Chip Reid.

NBC's Kelly O'Donnell concentrated on the "hurried and heated" House debate: "The podium was a magnet and it seemed like everybody tried to get in one last argument." CBS and ABC fleshed out some more details of the transportation spending. ABC's Jonathan Karl made note of $27bn for highway construction; CBS' Reid found $8bn for high speed rail, mostly added at the last minute. Republicans, Reid remarked, are no fans of mass transit. They called the rail plan "egregious."


INFLUENZA ALPHABET SOUP After a slow start, the rate of influenza infections reported to the Centers for Disease Control is picking up pace, NBC's Robert Bazell showed us, displaying a year-to-year chart. More people are now getting the 'flu than for Valentine's Day in 2008. The virus is in two strains, a harmful A and a less serious B. The medication Tamiflu is a useless treatment for A; this year's vaccine offers no protection against B.


SUICIDE CLUSTER AMONG HOUSTON RECRUITERS Progress towards stability in Iraq has meant that more soldiers were killed in January by their own hand than in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq combined. As a result, the USArmy is planning a forcewide program in suicide prevention. NBC's Ron Mott covered the mental health effort last Friday from Fort Benning. Now David Martin files from the Pentagon for CBS. Martin used a particularly macabre example. There has been a cluster of five suicides at a single recruitment office in Houston that uses 70-hour work weeks: one recruiting sergeant hanged himself; another strangled himself with a dog chain. Army brass blamed the "plague" on a "toxic mix of job stress, poor leadership and personal problems."


HOORAY FOR MARY KAY CBS unveiled a new feature series dubbed Bright Spots about those sectors in the economy that manage to thrive, even when the rest of us are mired in recession. Richard Schlesinger selected Mary Kay Cosmetics for a free boost of publicity. "They say To Look Good is to Feel Good and these days, when there is very little about the economy that feels good, selling cosmetics still looks good." Mary Kay saleswoman Kelly Canzone's pitch is that "a woman cannot afford to buy a new suit or a new outfit or weekly therapy but she can afford a $13 lipstick." Schlesinger assured us that "makeup--at least affordable makeup--is taking off."


MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME As an antidote to CBS' Bright Spots boosterism, check out Diane Sawyer's preview of her depressing 20/20 documentary A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains for ABC about the persistent poverty of the Appalachias. Count the number of hardships that Sawyer packed into a 131-second visit to Calf Creek Hollow in her home state of Kentucky: a mother strung out on prescription drugs…a grandparents' home overcrowded because the extended family had to move back in…hunger when food stamps run out…toddlers being fed soda instead of juice…a high school dropout mother on the welfare rolls…a lack of transportation forcing a daily 16-mile trek to GED classes…oh, and it was raining.

What can the full hour be like?