(Let me precede this with an advance warning - this post concerns the Buffalo plane crash on Thursday evening, and some of the reporting of said crash, and gets a bit graphic toward the end. If you are a squeamish person, or if you have a connection to any of the deceased, I recommend that you read some other account of the plane crash reporting.)
I first heard about the Buffalo plane crash via a FriendFeed share from The Music Freak Molly. Unlike Molly, I chose to leave the television off last night. Therefore, the first TV coverage that I saw of the plane crash was this morning, when CNN televised a live press conference at approximately 9:00 am Eastern time.
A few things to bear in mind at the time of the press conference:
- It had been less than twelve hours since the plane had crashed.
- At the time, no list of the deceased had been released. However, reports at the time were stating that one person on the ground had been killed, and that everyone on the plane had died. Reports had been stating that 48 people were on the plane (44 passengers and 4 crew), but I had also heard an on-the-plane count of 49 (an off-duty pilot).
- There was a fire at the crash scene which severely limited access to the site. Except for some NTSB personnel who were permitted to look for the black box, the only people on scene were emergency personnel trying to put out the fire.
Then the questions came. Bear in mind that you had people from competing organizations asking questions, all trying to get The Scoop. If you think bloggers are cutthroat, they have nothing on journalists, who have had a few hundred years of practice in this regard.
Taking that into account, the initial questions were intelligent, clarifying points that the NTSB spokesman had made. For example, after one question, he had to clarify that all that the NTSB really knew at this point was that a plane had crashed and hit a house. The NTSB still had to conduct a formal investigation, using information from the site, from the black box, from eyewitnesses in Buffalo, from personnel in Newark (the origin of the delayed flight), etc. It would be inappropriate for the NTSB to begin to draw conclusions until they had actually examined all of the evidence.
Then someone asked a question along the lines of "what exactly did you find on the scene when you arrived?"
And yes, the questioner used the word "exactly."
Perhaps it's just me, and perhaps I'm interpreting it wrong, but that question really drove me up a wall.
All of the people at the press conference already knew that regarding the plane, it appears that only the tail of the plane was really intact in any way. So I don't think the reporter was asking about the plane.
I think - and I'll put it as delicately as possible - the reporter was asking about the people.
For whatever reason, the NTSB spokesman refused to answer the question. But afterwards, it appeared that the NTSB spokesman began to get irritated with some of the questions that were being asked.
Let's face it, this was a "we only have a limited amount of information" press conference. Unless you can trick the spokesperson into revealing something that he or she shouldn't have revealed, you're not going to find out a lot during the question and answer period.
Yet that doesn't stop people from trying to get an NTSB spokesperson to say something on camera about the dead bodies on scene.
Sometimes, we can be a bunch of ghouls.
[UPDATE 8:25 PST - I HAVE SINCE FOUND A VIDEO OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE AT ROCHESTERHOMEPAGE.NET. THE NTSB SPOKESMAN IS STEVE CHEALANDER, AND THE RELEVANT QUESTION - ACTUALLY, MULTIPLE QUESTIONS - CAN BE FOUND FROM 14:00 TO 14:30 ON THE EMBEDDED VIDEO.] Sphere: Related Content