Networks cover weekend of shootings across the U.S.

U.S. networks dispatched crews to the scenes of three shootings that tragically stretched across the country over the weekend of May 14, 2022.

The day after a mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, made headlines, “NBC Nightly News” sent Sunday anchor Kate Snow to the city while CBS dispatched “CBS Weekend News” Sunday anchor Jericka Duncan there as well.

ABC’s David Muir was the only one of the big three weekday anchors to anchor from Sunday evening, also from Buffalo, though CBS’s Norah O’Donnell and NBC’s Lester Holt will both anchor from the city Monday, March 16, 2022. “ABC World News Tonight” was delayed in some time zones due to sports coverage earlier in the day.

None of the three networks anchored from the city Saturday, May 14, 2022, that day of the shooting, but did still have extensive coverage on their evening newscasts. 

The story continued to dominate headlines by Monday morning, with the network morning shows all offering extended coverage.

By this time, two additional shootings had made headlines — one in Texas and one in California. 

NBC’s “Today” used its video wall and a walk and wander floating camera shot to showcase a map of the three major shootings in the U.S. that happened over the weekend — in Laguna Woods, California, Houston, Texas and Buffalo.

Buffalo appeared to be the center of most of all three networks’ coverage, likely due to its higher death and injury toll and the fact it appears to have been driven by hate and is being labeled as terrorism. 

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Neither primary “Today” anchor Hoda Kotb nor Savannah Guthrie were dispatched to Buffalo, but de-facto third anchor Craig Melvin was on the scene.

Over on “CBS Mornings,” Tony Dokupil, who the network has been keen to dispatch to major stories lately, was in Buffalo, with Vladimir Duthiers taking his seat back in New York alongside Gayle King and Nate Burleson.

CBS turned its video wall backgrounds a gritty blue, a look that also included a faded image of the Tops grocery store to the left. Ring accents were added, though the right side was left oddly blank.

This made CBS the only one of the three networks to create a distinct look for its coverage of the shootings as of Monday morning. 

ABC’s “Good Morning America” relied on Muir to lead off its coverage Monday morning, though it showcased its team coverage on the ground using a walk and wander shot as well.

Most of the networks appeared to be set up in the same area in front of the grocery store, likely designated as a press area by local officials. 

As is typical when major stories take place in relatively compact areas, it appears (and sounds as though) everyone was crammed in, with the audio of other reporters being picked up on some networks’ air. 

Although ABC did cover the Houston flea market shooting, it did not include that event in its sweeping video in video shot summary of what it labeled as the two “mass” shootings because that incident did not technically qualify as such as outlined by the Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2012, which at least from its statutory standpoint, defines “mass shootings” as a single event leading to three or more deaths.

Two people were killed and one injured at the Houston shooting. 

All three networks also offered updates on the evening on their respective Sunday morning political affairs shows. CNN, MSNBC and Fox’s cable channel also covered the story, though multiple media watchers noted Fox did not have a reporter on scene as quickly as its competitors. 

“CBS Sunday Morning” did not mention the news at the very top of the show, which appeared to be pre-taped, as its normally is.

However, after returning from its first break, anchor Jane Pauley did appear on camera saying “we begin this morning with the latest…” before cutting to a clip from the scene and the audio noticeably changing as she continued the intro and package. 

It appears that the network tapes a clip of Pauley on set saying the first part of the sentence, perhaps taped ahead of time in the event of just such breaking news, but then dubbed in the specifics via the rest of the audio, which was apparently recorded elsewhere (perhaps even from home given that many anchors likely still have pandemic studio gear there).

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