Damage attracts major news outlets

Jason Galloway

The magnitude of the disaster in Tuscaloosa this week has brought many of the country’s biggest and most prominent media outlets to the city.

The New York Times, USA Today, Fox News, BBC News and more have flocked around the damage on 15th Street and McFarland Boulevard over the last two days, and NBC Nightly News has brought its set down south to air its show live from Tuscaloosa on Friday night.

NBC Nightly News was actually on site in London on Thursday covering England’s royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton before Alabama’s tragedy took precedence.

“When I got to London, I checked my blackberry, saw the death total was 83 when I got to baggage claim,” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams said. “It was 172 by the time I got outside the airport.

“Sometimes it’s just a slam dunk; you have to go. Katrina, you’ve got to go, the earthquake in Indonesia, you’ve got to go. In this case, it was the royal wedding that wasn’t a ‘you’ve got to go,’ and here we are in Tuscaloosa.”

NBC Nightly News producer Al Henkel said only about a dozen shows a year are done outside the show’s studio in New York City.

“It depends on what else is going on in the world, the importance of the story, the impact of the story – not just to the area here but nationally,” Henkel said. “I think this is a good example because this story impacts everybody. Everybody goes through bad weather, and they look at the pictures and people crawling through their houses, and say, ‘By the grace of God, it could be me.’”

As the death total in Tuscaloosa and around the state rises, expect major news outlets to be around for a while.