Details lacking in TV coverage of bridge opening

A bridge! A bridge! Abridged?

The recent opening of a new bridge over the Mississippi River at St. Louis got grand coverage from the city’s television news stations.

Footage of the sparkling span dominated morning reports by Fox News Channel 2, KMOV Channel 4 and KSDK Channel 5 on the Friday before the official opening on Feb. 9.

Cheerleading, in fact, was in top form as anchors and reporters gave testimony to an engineering achievement accomplished with admirable efficiency.

It was a good story about civic progress.

But the journalists’ day job – reporting – was noticeably, ah, abridged.

Details on how to use the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge got scant attention in the reporting medium with great visual and immediacy capabilities. Neither in words nor footage nor graphics did viewers gain a clear understanding of how the new bridge fit into the landscape.

Motorists approaching from Illinois might have been the most confused, both in the changes to the roads that approach the new span, as well as what to do once they’d crossed it.

Subsequent newscasts headlining the difficulties motorists were having should suggest that there was room for better initial reporting on this historic event.

Carolyn Kingcade is a senior lecturer in the School of Journalism at Southern Illinois University.

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