CBS’ Pizzey 1st in Somalia

CBS News’ Allen Pizzey was the first of the Big Three to file a live report from famine-stricken Somalia since the networks started beefing up staff in the region in preparation for the arrival of U.S. troops.

Pizzey’s report aired at 7 a.m. (ET) Friday during the web’s “CBS This Morning.”

The Eye web followed the Pizzey stint with live feeds from Dan Rather that aired in the Central, Mountain and Pacific time zone telecasts of the show. In fact, CBS kept co-hosts Paula Zahn and Harry Smith in the studio after the East Coast feed was finished to incorporate the Rather pieces for the later time zones.

The Big Three networks and CNN have spent the past few days sending staff and supplies to cover the deployment of U.S. peace-keeping troops in the region. The troops are being sent in to assure the delivery of food to hundreds of thousands of starving people who are being deprived of the food by armed guerrillas.

In addition to Pizzey, “CBS This Morning” used a live feed from Dr. Bob Arnot , who was in Nairobi.

Rather filed a taped report for Friday’s “CBS Evening News” which was anchored by Connie Chung. He continued filing reports over the weekend.

CBS opted against Rather anchoring the news from Somalia because of the inherent danger. Tom Brokaw will anchor “NBC Nightly News” live from Somalia, said an NBC News spokeswoman.

“It’s very dangerous to turn on the generator at night. It makes you a potential target for snipers,” said CBS News rep Donna Dees.

In fact, both CBS correspondents were taking chances to get their reports out live on Friday. Pizzey’s piece was sent when it was dusk in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, while it was clearly dark when Rather appeared on air.

Many journalists consider Somalia a tough assignment because there is no civilian government in charge. As a result, there are bands of gunmen traveling the countryside, shooting randomly and answering to no one.

Moreover, because of the location, the networks must send in literally everything necessary to broadcast and live in the country. The extra supplies also make the journalists targets of the gunmen.

Rather was joined in Somalia by Brokaw and “Nightline” anchor Ted Koppel. Koppel was expected to travel to the region over the weekend. All are expected to stay in the country through next week, although plans could change.

CNN also is boosting its coverage in the region and starting today will air two daily half-hours devoted to the situation in Somalia.

“Saving Somalia” will use live and taped reports from the network’s five full crews in the region and will be anchored live in Atlanta. The programs will air at 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. (PT). Additional live and tape reports will air during CNN’s regularly scheduled newscasts throughout the day.

NBC’s Brokaw is expected to start filing reports for “Today” and the “NBC Nightly News” on Monday. ABC’s plans call for Koppel to anchor “Nightline” live from Somalia.

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