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Breaking news you've been involved with

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by young-gun11, Mar 30, 2012.

  1. young-gun11

    young-gun11 Member

    I know many of the fine folks here are on the news side, so after I was involved in a wild and crazy breaking news event (at least it was wild and crazy for my small country town) I remembered all the cool story threads we've had. I was wondering if anyone would like to share a crazy news story you covered and what odd circumstances may have gone along with the story.

    If anyone is from my area, you'll possibly identify me with this, but here goes anyway.

    I walked into the office at 8 a.m. (a good 45 minutes before I normally show up) and checked my email and began eating my pastry; normal beginning to a work day. The police scanner was on, but I paid little attention as it usually pertains to school traffic at this hour. Somehow, I caught a small bit of the conversation. Really all I could hear was static, but I was able to make out, 'He's travelling at 100 miles per hour on 157 South, headed to Court Street.' At that point I began listening intently because our office is one block over from Court Street.
    There was a high-speed pursuit in progress on a small, country town square! I ran out the front door in time to see the police car pass a block away. At that point, I hear he made a loop around the back of some buildings and was headed up Main Street. Guess what street we're on? I run back outside and the car flies past our office with two police cars in pursuit. About a minute later we heard something about the bank across the street. I thought it was a separate call, but we all go out the back door and there they are. Six police cars and this guy's 2003 Ford Taurus. Apparently, he thought that Taurus could outrun the police radios?
    Anyway, I grab the camera because they are, literally, across the street in the parking lot of the bank. Suspect on the ground in cuffs and the sheriff's deputies are searching the car.
    I came back inside and wrote what little of the story we could get from the information obtained through the scanner. Updated it later, but it was the craziest, coolest story I've gotten to cover since my journalism career began.
  2. TyWebb

    TyWebb Well-Known Member

    When I was working at a paper in a college town, a local professor went nuts and killed his wife and two other people and was on the loose in the city. When the story broke, I was covering a softball doubleheader. I was told to drop everything and return to the office to help field phone calls.

    The manhunt went on for three days and he was ultimately found dead by a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his car in the middle of a field. But those were a tense three days with many people thinking he had escaped state lines. My role in the story was minimal, but it was still interesting to be a part of.
  3. txsportsscribe

    txsportsscribe Active Member

    most notorious breaking news that i covered was the suicide of a former district attorney who did the dirty deed as police and the dateline to catch a predator crew were outside his house coming to arrest him.
  4. Walter Burns

    Walter Burns Member

    I covered a lot of breaking news (a killing spree, police chases, fires, etc.). The weirdest one I ever had was when a mailman was killed while sitting in the shade sorting his mail. This would have been summer of 2003, so the DC snipers had been arrested about eight months prior. And one of the TV guys asks the cops, "Do you think it's a sniper?" My blood ran cold.
    As it went on, the guy was going through a messy divorce. We thought his wife hired a guy to pop him. The truth turned out to be much weirder.
    Months went by. Finally, a woman was talking about a gun she had stolen from her by her estranged boyfriend. The first thing that tripped the cops' trigger was that she was a convicted felon and wasn't supposed to have a gun. The second thing was that it was the same kind of gun that killed this mailman.
    The mailman was sitting in the shade by some trees. On the other side of the trees was an apartment complex where this woman lived. Her 9-year-old son found the gun, squeezed off a round and it passes through the trees, hits the mailman in the back and kills him.
    The kid, for obvious reasons, wasn't prosecuted. The mother did time for negligent homicide and having a gun as a felon. Weird fuckin' shit all the way around.
  5. rmanfredi

    rmanfredi Active Member

    I did split duty with sports and general interest stuff, so I got to handle quite a bit of breaking news. The two that stick out for me:

    - A hostage situation where a robbery suspect had taken a maid at a crummy hotel in Anaheim hostage as the police wre trying to arrest him. Probably the least exciting "exciting" story I've covered: essentially, I milled around outside for a few hours and chatted with the police department CIO waiting for something to happen (other reporters at the office were working on calling family members, etc.) Eventually, the guy gave himself up (which was, obviously, the best outcome although the reporter in me was pissed that I wasted a good chunk of my day for what turned out to be an inside the metro section story.

    - A worker at a construction site was digging a larger trench when it collapsed on him and buried him up to his chest. I got there just after they freed him, but it was obvious he was in very bad shape. I stayed behind to interview witnesses, try to get a statement from the construction company (didn't), etc. before I got the call that he didn't make it to the hospital. Apparently his lungs and heart were pretty much crushed with the hole collapsed on him.

    This wasn't "breaking news" but I was part of the coverage team at the OC Register when Megan's Law first went into effect. On the first day, the Anaheim PD was going out to neighborhoods where known child molesters lived to put up warning fliers and tell neighbors. The paper wanted blanket coverage (much like with the Opening Day with the Angels this season), so they sent everyone off in teams of two. Our job was to go to the police station, wait for cruisers to leave and follow them until they reached their destination. We had to do this, since the police wouldn't give us advance notice of where the fliers were going (for obvious reasons).

    So another reporter and I got to pretend we were Starsky & Hutch and tail a cop until they got to a neighborhood. From there, we had to try and interview the child molester (he never answered the door) or talk to neighbors about it (who mostly wanted us to get the hell away). One of the most frustrating and pointless days of reporting I ever had.
  6. Bradley Guire

    Bradley Guire Well-Known Member

    I covered a bunch of bad stuff when I was the crime reporter, but it was your typical shootings, rapes, etc. I never got to cover anything too weird.
  7. txsportsscribe

    txsportsscribe Active Member

    had one where a yard worker at a private wildlife facility was attacked by a bengal tiger that got loose from its cage
  8. ColdCat

    ColdCat Well-Known Member

    was part of the first crew on the scene for a six year old girl who disappeared in north Florida several years back. still no sign of her and no concrete evidence as to what happened. the most popular rumor was that her father was dealing drugs and a rival dealer wanted to send a message.
    Also was on scene for a fire that took out a 150 year old building in a small town, a tornado the next town over about six months later, a tropical storm and more murders and police chases than I can count
  9. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Working on a Sunday night news desk at a now defunct paper in Michigan 25 years ago... my brother came in for the weekend and had taken him to Metro Airport before I went to work.
    Midway through the shift, all hell broke loose on the scanners -- first report was a plane had hit the fuel storage tanks on the far side of the airport. Flight 255 had crashed.
    I called the executive editor and told him what happened. His response was, and I will never forget it, "How far away is it?"
    Ummm, Joe? It's at Metro Airport. It's 10 miles from downtown Hurontown (Keep in mind that A) he'd been there a million times, including picking me up for my job interview; B) technically, our coverage area ended three miles east of the airport; C) we were the closest daily paper to the airport -- closer than Detroit or Ann Arbor)
    His response, and as a 25-year-old news editor terrified of his boss I still regret listening to him as reporters and photographers are calling in on other lines ready to go to work, was "Well... that's out of our area. Let AP cover it."
    When he was fired four years later, there wasn't a person in the building that didn't do the happy dance -- for many reasons, including this.
    My next call was to home. My mom answered and started getting chatty. I kept cutting her off asking if my brother was home yet -- still didn't know what plane went down, just that A plane had gone down. She kept on talking for what seemed like five minutes and was probably 30 seconds. Finally, I screamed "WILL YOU JUST FUCKING TELL ME IF DANNY GOT HOME YET? THERE'S A PLANE CRASH AND I WANT TO KNOW IF HE"S OK!!!!!"
    "You don't have to yell at me. He's right here."
    Had many beers that night for many reasons...
  10. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    One of the publisher's friends in the chamber of commerce opened a new business.
  11. BillyT

    BillyT Active Member

    Mid-80s. Serial killer Michael Ross was roaming eastern Connecticut.

    I was working sports, but we were all on call.

    Turned out he lived a few blocks from where we did.
  12. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    News wise, just a couple of big wrecks (one involving an illegal-immigrant truck driver and another a mile down the road 2 years later involving a bus) and a couple of alligators that swam surprisingly far north, but that's the extent of it.

    Sports wise, we had a coach of impressive longevity set a state win record and another who paid players to take charges on the basketball court who budged the national needle a tad.
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