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CBS' Glor returns to cover hometown tragedy

The first time that the Saturday edition of the "CBS Evening News" ended with the tag line "with Jeff Glor," the Kenmore East graduate was in his hometown covering an unspeakable tragedy.
He was anchoring from in front of Buffalo City Hall on the national newscast that spent several minutes covering Thursday night's crash of Continental Flight 3407.

"I think it is one of the bizarre, bizarre coincidences in life," said Glor in an interview here Saturday. "It's a very sad, strange coincidence."
The CBS News correspondent was in bed asleep in Manhattan after midnight Thursday when he got a call that he didn't get to in time. He quickly looked at the message on his Blackberry and learned that a plane had crashed in Buffalo.

"My heart just sank," Glor said. "There really are no words to describe how I felt at that moment."
He was told that he and several staffers were going to fly from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey to Buffalo on a chartered airplane at 4 a.m. to get here in time to report on the tragedy for Friday's edition of "The Early Show" on CBS. They got here at 5 a.m. and Glor was on the air in a few hours reporting on the Continental flight that started in Newark, N.J.
CBS wanted Glor to introduce what happened and to add his perspective. "I certainly think the Buffalo connection occurred [to the bosses]," he said.
His report didn't air here, because Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate, understandably was carrying local coverage. "It was a huge story, a terrible story for Buffalo," said Glor. "If it had happened in San Diego, Chicago or St. Louis, their local affiliates would have stayed on as well."
While preparing to interview a Clarence woman who lived about 300 feet from the crash site, Glor discovered they were both graduates of Kenmore East. "When you can establish some kind of comfortable level with somebody on the scene, it is helpful," Glor said.
Since the morning program lends itself more to longer and less formal reports, Glor was able to talk about his hometown in his Friday report.
"I tried to talk about what I know about this area and what I know about the people," Glor said. "I said this is a very tight-knit, loving community. And you only have to spend a couple of hours back here to appreciate what the people are like."
Glor, correspondent Randall Pinkston and several members of the CBS News staff stayed in a Main Street motel in Clarence that certainly didn't speak to the glamorous life of a network anchor. The story was what mattered. Glor's goal was simple on Saturday's newscast, carried locally on CW-23.
"The job is to report the news and do no harm to any family member or any victim," said Glor. "We're trying to give people the most complete perspective we can on a national level about what's happened in Buffalo and also to everyone who is affected in some way by the crash and everyone who is interested in aircraft safety across the country."
Of course, that includes himself. He loves flying and flies so often he tries not to think about the dangers. But that was pretty hard to do on this story.
"I've flown that route many times," Glor said of Newark to Buffalo via Continental. "The last time I came to Buffalo over Christmas, that's the exact route I took. But if you are constantly thinking of what could happen, you'd go nuts."
* All three local news stations did an admirable job over the weekend dealing with the grief resulting from the tragedy. The stations do have different styles. Channel 4 and Channel 7 are more straightforward and less focused on tugging at your emotions than Channel 2.
The most interesting report on Channel 2 on Sunday was from NBC's aviation expert Tom Costello, who told co-anchors Scott Levin and Maryalice Demler that the National Transportation Safety Board has quickly given out much more information than usual about this crash. Channel 2 also brought in some solid reporters from sister Gannett stations in Cleveland, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., to help cover the story.
Channel 4 seemed to have more local reporters involved on Sunday, with anchor Don Postles doing a moving piece with the family of Beverly Eckert, the 9/1 1 widow who died in the crash.
* Of course, the local newscasts are not only graded by subjective critics, but also by objective ratings. There was a lot of dial switching on Thursday night, with the movement away from Channel 2 and toward Channel 4 and Channel 7.

Channel 2 started in first place at 11 p.m. but gradually lost viewers until it fell into third place by 11:45. Channel 4 started in second-place and was in first place by 11:30 p.m. Channel 7 started in third place, was tied for first place at 11:45 and was No. 1 at midnight before Channel 4 regained the lead 15 minutes later.

* Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner wanted it known that the station used its own cameras on Thursday night's coverage and the pictures were just sent through the Internet via Skype. In any event, the video looked amateurish.

e-mail: apergament@buffnews.com

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