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Addressing "Jeopardy" slight, Williams' Buffalo intro and Fallon's restraint

Enough already.

That’s undoubtedly what people living in South Buffalo and other areas are thinking about all the snow that has landed there.

But it is also the sentiment of TV viewers who have admired the local news coverage but think it may have gotten to the point of going a little overboard.

I’m sure one of my Facebook friends – a long-time media follower and public relations expert – spoke for many viewers when he wasn’t able to see Wednesday night’s edition of the “Jeopardy Tournament of Champions” because Channel 4 was preempting it at 7:30 p.m. for its extended coverage of the storm.

The follower agreed that the media are doing a great job, but added “there was absolutely nothing more to say, nothing more to report, no more forecasts to give.”

I understand the follower's frustration but the local news stations can point to their extraordinary ratings to illustrate that local snowbound viewers can't get enough of the coverage.

The follower actually had more patience that I did. I had enough an hour earlier when Channel 4 preempted “The CBS Evening News” for more local coverage.

After being on the air for the entire day with local coverage, you might have thought the station would have allowed viewers to see how their networks were covering the storm.

Channel 2 wisely took a 30-minute break from local coverage and won the 6:30 p.m. hour with an 18.4 rating for “NBC’s Nightly News with Brian Williams.” Channel 4’s local coverage had a 12.8 rating at that time and ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir" a 7.3 on Channel 7.

Channel 4 had a slightly lower rating – 11.8 -- for its local news coverage at 7:30 p.m. that it usually gets from “Jeopardy.”

After seeing that Channel 4 was preempting CBS’ national newscast, clearly I wasn’t the only one heading over to “The NBC Nightly News” on  Channel 2  for a report from Cheektowaga by Lester Holt.

Before sending the report to Holt, Williams had a long introduction that led to some social media criticism.

He started off by noting “the people of Buffalo don’t scare easily. President McKinley was assassinated there and they moved on.”

Then he mentioned the area has lived through the up and down years of the Buffalo Bills and "now they are good again" before adding the area “has given us Tim Russert and Wolf Blitzer.”

He concluded by saying “they finally have met their match” in this storm before Holt came on and said the storm “was astonishing even by Buffalo standards.”

I liked Williams' introduction, though I understood the criticism of the unnecessary reference to McKinley assassination and the debatable assessment that the Bills are good again.

But by mentioning Russert and Blitzer, Williams clearly was looking to compliment the area and might have been surprised to hear anyone thought otherwise.

In his report, Holt did one of the best jobs in network news coverage explaining that the storm hit some areas of Western New York hard while other areas only had a dusting. That doesn’t always occur.

ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” also led with energetic snow coverage by Gio Benitez.

It included the dramatic pictures of pregnant woman who was carried several blocks from an ambulance to a hospital before having her baby, and the plight of the Niagara University women’s basketball team that had been stuck on the Thruway.

The best part of ABC’s report – and of several local news reports – was the images of the “astonishing” amount of snow on garages, homes and in the streets.

Not surprisingly, ratings for all three local news stations were at very high levels on a day that most of Western New Yorkers got a day off. The ratings approached astonishing in the case of Channel 2, which dominated for the second straight day of snow coverage and now can justifiably run promos that tell viewers that WNYers head to the station when big news hits.  That's if it hasn't started running the promos already.

Channel 2 won the 6 a.m. battle Wednesday with a 9.7 rating to a 6.7 for Channel 4 and a 4.5 for Channel 7. It had double digit ratings through the afternoon and dominated from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Here are the numbers for the regular news hours:

5 p.m. : Channel 2: 15.1 Channel 4: 11.7 Channel 7: 5.5

 5:30 p.m.: Channel 2: 16.1 Channel 4: 12.0 Channel 7: 6.5

6 p.m.: Channel 2: 17.1 Channel 4: 14.7 Channel 7: 6.8

 10 p.m.: Channel 4 on WNLO-TV 5.4. Channel 2 on WUTV: 4.6

11 p.m.: Channel 2: 12.8 Channel 4: 7.8 Channel 7: 6.2

Channel 2's 11 p.m. victory was a rarity. Channel 4 usually wins then.

There were some surprises in the coverage.

In the afternoon, Channel 7 anchor-reporter Joanna Pasceri was the one asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo “the tough questions” about why the Thruway wasn’t shut down earlier. Apparently, she forgot the memo that Channel 2 is supposed to ask “the tough questions.”

But Channel 2 wouldn’t be denied. Later, reporter Michael Wooten had a story designed to show that many people disputed the governor’s answer that drivers ignored the Thruway closing and went on the road.

Finally, I’m sure many viewers turned to NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” at 11:35 p.m. expecting to see the host address the Buffalo storm in his monologue.

For the second straight night, it didn’t happen. That might have been “astonishing” to some.

Perhaps Fallon’s writers don’t think it is time to crack a Buffalo snow joke yet since several people have died in the storm.

But don’t worry – the odds that the jokes will eventually arrive are about equal to the chance that the area will have another snowstorm this winter.

apergament@buffnews.com

 

 

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