Chicago TV news warms up to common sense

Gaynor Hall (Photo: WGN)

Often criticized for putting reporters and news crews in hazardous situations unnecessarily, Chicago television finally got smart this time.

Local stations covering this week’s dangerous deep freeze wisely avoided gratuitous live shots of reporters standing outside in subzero temperatures even as they admonish viewers to stay inside.

“Your safety is of the utmost importance to us,” Jennifer Lyons, news director of Tribune Broadcasting WGN-Channel 9, wrote in a memo to staff. “Over the next few days, please take all precautions to stay safe.”

Typical of the common sense exercised by local news managers was this directive from Lyons: “I ask that there be NO outdoor live shots Wednesday and Thursday. Try to find a location where you can be inside and see outside behind you.”

For the most part, local stations showed reporters standing inside buildings or sitting in their vehicles rather than on the streets. National networks reporting from Chicago appeared less accommodating, requiring their correspondents to brave the bitter cold for their standups.

In her memo Lyons also reminded WGN crews to leave cars and trucks running to avoid batteries dying and to pack extra batteries for cameras.

One more thing: “We are going to leave hand-warmers at the assignment desk for everyone to take out with you.”

Wednesday’s comment of the day: Eric Field: May Mr. [Jim] DeRogatis accomplish the following: A. Win a Pulitzer; B. Go on a national book tour; C. Co-write the screenplay; D. Earn lots of money; E. Donate generously to multiple “Abused Women’s” charities.