I was still in bed this morning when Lori called me to tell me about the space shuttle. I turned on CNN, and saw what footage existed of the accident: a bright light and several trails of thick white smoke moving slowly across a brilliant blue sky. They kept repeating the same footage over and over, so I turned off the TV and turned on the radio, and listened to Scott Simon on NPR while I showered and got dressed. By the time I left the house, I didn't know anything more that I did when Lori called me an hour or so earlier: that the space shuttle Columbia had broken up on re-entry for unknown reasons, and all seven astronauts on board were presumed dead.
I was in and out of my car all day as I went about my business, but I kept my radio on NPR and listened to the coverage while I could. At no time while I was listening did they discuss anything but the shuttle accident. By seven PM, when I got home and the local affiliate switched away for local programming, they'd been on the story for about ten hours, and I still didn't know anything but that the space shuttle Columbia had broken up on re-entry for unknown reasons, and all seven astronauts on board were presumed dead. NASA had contributed a few details -- that the orbiter had broken up at approximately 200,000 feet, that Mission Control had noted a few anomalous readings immediately before losing contact, that President Bush had spoken to the families of the astronauts via speakerphone -- and the television networks had found some additional footage, but beyond that, nothing.
And they must have suspected from the start that they would know next to nothing more about the accident than what they knew at ten this morning. They certainly knew it by 15:30 ET, when NASA held their first news conference about it. So why exploit the tragedy and the memories of the astronauts by continuing to rehash the same information and the same footage ad nauseum? It's disturbing.
And speaking of which, I just read on the TV Barn mailing list that FOX News earlier tonight "ran footage of a helmet found by a family and zoomed in to the inside of the helmet to show a sizable chunk of gray hair inside." Ew. No wonder so many people have such a low opinion of the news media.