Coverage Of The Big Story -- The Evans Road Wildfire

By: Bill Wilson - Managing Editor
By: Bill Wilson - Managing Editor

How does a newsroom cover the "big story". A few notes from this past week on how WITN covered the Evans Road Wildfire.

As a reporter, I covered plenty of big stories.  Now, as a newsroom manager, I help oversee how those stories are covered.  Of course the big story this past week has been the wildfire which started out in Hyde County Sunday.   I am very proud of the way our crews have covered this developing story.

 

We first heard there was a significant fire near Ponzer Monday morning.  A quick call to Raleigh confirmed there was a 700 acre blaze in Hyde County.  Not knowing how big the story might become, we immediately sent a reporter, photographer and our satellite truck that way.    That night, WITN was first with the fire story and we’ve been staying on top of it ever since. 

 

 

Covering this story hasn’t been easy.  Not only is the actual fire more than an hour away, but communication with our crews has been extremely difficult.  That’s because cell phone service in that part of Hyde County is very spotty.  So bad, that the N.C. Forest Service had to bring in satellite phones for communications.  On Thursday we had three reporters covering the fire, and one of those crews was “missing in action” for more than three hours.   To a newsroom that’s an eternity, especially when you’re trying to pass along important information to the crew and vice versa.  When the crew did finally get cell phone service and call in, the first thing they said was “We’re still alive!”.

Then there was the bear.  Reporter Trent Davis was doing a story on how the wildlife was being impacted by the huge fire.  He literally drove up on a bear trying to get around a locked gate.  Trent told me he was afraid to get out of the car, and I don't blame him.  Lucky for Trent, his camera was within reach and you all saw the video that night at 11.

 

The fire is receiving some national attention.  While WITN has been feeding video since Monday to other NBC stations in North Carolina, Thursday the Today Show used our material and by Friday several Raleigh stations and CNN realized there was a story there.   The most humorous call came Friday morning from the NBC station in Richmond, VA.  They were getting a lot of smoke in the area, and wanted to know if we had a fire down our way.  I had to chuckle and say, "Yeah…just a little one".

 

WITN and witn.com will continue to cover this big story.  If you have any suggestions or comments on our coverage, let me hear from you by posting a comment.  Thanks!

 

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Tommy Location: Greenville, NC on Jun 13, 2008 at 08:09 PM
    I'm glad to see that WITN is on top of this massive fire, but on the other hand I'm deeply dissapointed with the Natioal coverage from not only NBC but all of the major news outlets. It seems that if this fire had been located in California, not only would it have made national headlines the first day, but viewers would get updated every night until it was brought under control. Again, let me say I dont blame WITN, for you have covered this story as well as could be expected. Maybe those guys running the National news outlets could learn a thing or two from "The Local Guys".
  • by cheryl weston Location: hyde on Jun 12, 2008 at 05:35 AM
    thank you for the coverage we are the road less traveled andforgotten from the rest of the world. thank you witn
  • by Mark Location: St Louis, Mo. on Jun 11, 2008 at 11:27 AM
    I've been checking out your site as of Thursday when NBC ran the video. Good Job.
  • by Tyrrell Native Location: Columbia on Jun 10, 2008 at 11:30 AM
    If memory serves me correct, WITN covered the Allen Road fire in 1985 the same as you have this time. You are the only news team I know of, that has provided such excellent coverage. Although I know the two fires are completely different, they both are very much the same. I thank you for the coverage both then and now.
  • by Karen Location: Raleigh on Jun 9, 2008 at 08:51 PM
    It's unbelievable how fast that fire spread!! I too would love to know what happened to the bear.
  • by Larry Location: Rocky Mount on Jun 9, 2008 at 06:40 PM
    Oh no! What happened to the bear? Was it Smokey?
  • by Fred Location: Washington on Jun 9, 2008 at 09:36 AM
    Are there any links for satellite pictures that show the smoke?

    EDITOR'S NOTE: We have one picture posted on the main fire story, but I don't know of a link to other photos.
  • by Good Job! on Jun 9, 2008 at 05:48 AM
    You've done a great job. WITN rocks.
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