Watching coverage of the rescue of the miners in Chile brought to mind however much things change, in some ways they stay the same.
Television was essentially birthed in Los Angeles, after all, by the story of a little girl, Kathy Fiscus, who fell into a well in April 1949. Those with TV sets sat transfixed as they waited to discover if she could be rescued — and the indefatigable Stan Chambers, who recently not-quite retired, covered it all for KTLA.
Here’s a bit about the Fiscus story from KTLA’s website, devoted to Chambers:
In 1949, Stan reported on what he considers the most memorable story of his career: the Kathy Fiscus well tragedy. While playing in a vacant lot near her San Marino home, four-year- old Kathy stumbled into an abandoned well. Within minutes after the rescue operation began, Stan was at the scene. “We were so wrapped up in the tragedy and reporting the story that we didn’t really have a chance to wonder if anyone was watching; we had no idea of the impact we were making,” said Stan. The story, with its tragic ending, set a precedent in TV reporting and helped build KTLA’s reputation for on-the-spot news coverage.
Fiscus didn’t survive, but the coverage gave an early illustration to the compelling immediacy of television. And one can argue that it’s been gradually dumbing us down as a society ever since.
The difference today, as TV newser reported, is that multiple networks covered the mine rescue, which became a global event.
The world might have gotten smaller, but the storylines that hold our interest haven’t really changed. There are just more of them.