On the same night that Joplin city officials announced an FBI investigation into the actions of two Joplin police officers, the same day that a Webb City police officer becomes the target of an investigation into child abuse, the same day that Oklahoma's attorney general files an environmental lawsuit against a number of area chicken companies...KOAM devoted the first five minutes of its 10 p.m. newscast to the Michael Jackson verdict.
The verdict, which nearly every member of Channel 7's audience must have already known about long before 10 p.m., was thoroughly explored during the first three minutes of the program, then was followed by totally unnecessary, man-on-the-street reaction to the Jackson verdict.
By its selection of the Jackson verdict as its lead story, KOAM sent the message that it believed this was the most important story for its viewers. In fact, though there is a spot for it in the news program, Michael Jackson's guilt or innocence really has no meaning whatsoever to people in the four-state area.
While KOAM indulged in its five-minute Jacksonfest, KODE and KSNF struck quickly with what was undeniably the most important news story to the largest number of viewers...the FBI probe into two Joplin police officers' handcuffing at a Joplin elementary school of an 11-year-old boy who allegedly spit on the son of one of the officers off campus. This story has not died down since it was first brought to light, thanks not only to the work of The Joplin Globe, but also to some citizens who recognize this is not proper behavior for police officers. City officials' coverup of the disciplinary actions taken against these officers has also kept the story in the public eye.
KODE and KSN recognized the importance of the story, leading with it on both the 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts. At 10 p.m., they were able to add quotes from Police Chief Kevin Lindsey and Mayor Phil Stinnett.
KOAM had only a brief mention of the probe, read by anchor Dowe Quick, at least seven or eight minutes into the 10 p.m. newscast. As far as I could determine, it was not mentioned during the 6 p.m. newscast.
City officials were all available for interviews tonight during the second city gathering in a public park. It would have been a simple matter for KOAM to jump on the story and find an angle, but it appears the station did not assign anyone or have anyone available to go to the get-together.
KODE continued its winning streak with a report on a child abuse investigation centered on a Webb City police officer, also covered on KSNF, while KSNF picked up Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmonson's filing of a lawsuit against Tyson and other poultry companies.
KODE, unfortunately, also did a man-on-the-street about the Jackson verdict, but it was placed sufficiently well into the broadcast. I would have much preferred a man-on-the-street asking about the FBI investigation. What has made this story have legs is that people do not like the idea of police officers putting 11-year-olds in handcuffs...especially off-duty police officers. People imagine their children being put in the same situation and it naturally angers people. I would much rather have seen the reaction to this story than to a story that has already been covered beyond its worth. (I will even include The Turner Report's continuing coverage of Fortress Investment's purchase of Michael Jackson's debt in that category.)
The first night of the post-Siedlecki era, was a winner for KODE, and it should be noted that KSNF had a strong evening, also, with Tiffany Alaniz doing solo work at the anchor desk.
KODE and KSNF both were quick to update their websites with the information on the FBI probe.
KOAM did have an update on its 10 p.m. newscast on the attempt of a Lamar mother whose two-year-old son was murdered last week, to regain custody of her child, but it was a weak recovery. I fully hope to see a comeback by KOAM tomorrow. If all three stations start clicking on their newscasts, the viewers will be the winners.