Locals scoop Leland saga
The disappearance of U.S. Rep.
Mickey Leland's plane during a
storm in Ethiopia triggered an unprecedented response from Houston's news organizations, said David
Butler, President of the Houston
Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Butler moderated a panel of
journalists at SPJ's monthly meet-
thing serious had happened to Mickey. I told Lori (Reingold) and Bob
(Dows) to go home and get their
clothes and I went to the bank and
picked up a lot of cash. We were on
the plane that afternoon."
"We left on two hours notice," Reingold, Zindlers' producer, said.
The disappearance of the congressman's plane prompted dashes
ing at the Houstonian Hotel on Aug. for visas by the Houston Post, Hous-
29. ton Chronicle, Channel 11 and
"The effort expended by Hous- Channel 2. To save time, Channel
ton's news organizations was almost 13's Zindler opted to travel without a
without precedent in terms of cov- visa, although the airline, Lufthansa,
ering an international story from the
local angle," Butler said.
It was Leland's local significance
that prompted Houston reporters to
fly to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to cover
"When I got up Tuesday morning,
I realized it was serious," said ABC
affiliate KTRK's Marvin Zindler, one
asked him to sign a release.
her day off, but her cameraman,
Charlie Duckworth, said, "Our network wasn't going to cover the story.
They didn't think it was important. It
was either we go or we don't get
coverage on it."
Zindler's ABC bosses at first didn't
give the story the play it deserved,
ABC didn't think this story was
important," he said. "They rated it
15 th while the other networks already had it at No. 1."
By the time network executives realized it was a major story, the Houston contingent was on the scene and,
Houston Chronicle reporter Kim for the most part, network operations
Cobb wasn't optimistic about getting focused on supporting the Houston
a visa on such short notice, but by media's efforts in Ethiopia.
the time she flew to Washington,
D.C., visa requirements for journalists to travel to Ethiopia had been
waived by the government.
Channel 2's Paul Paolicelli,
KPRC's vice president of news, estimated the cost of the coverage at
about $100,000 for his station.
Zindler said, "Channel 13 did a
Other journalists had a difficult
of the first reporters on the scene, time convincing their superiors of the great job of covering this thing with
"The president of our company importance of the story. our own cameraman and reporter,
called in and I told him I wanted to NBC affiliate KPRC's Amy Hug- without us having to suck the hind tit
go to Africa, that I thought some- gins was called to cover the story on of a network."
BACK FROM ETHIOPIA.Mousion based journal!*
seek on-site coverage of l)fm ttey Leland disaster. Later, the major
hoto by RoberfT