The cutthroat battle for scoops and exclusives by the local New York TV stations took a back seat Wednesday during live coverage of the crash of a Staten Island ferry that killed 10 people and injured dozens more.
Heavy winds grounded many of the TV stations’ traffic helicopters when the incident occurred at 3:20 p.m.
But Tribune’s WPIX was able to get its digitally equipped helicopter — boasting a lens that allows close-ups of a scene from as much as 30 miles away — into the air fairly quickly to capture graphic shots of the chaos resulting from the ferry’s slamming into a dock.
WPIX ended up supplying footage to two other TV stations in the market, WCBS and WNBC, and cable networks CNN and NY 1 News.
By 5 p.m., when the 90-minute newscasts produced by WABC, WCBS, WNBC and WNYW (Fox) kick off, the wind had died down and most of the stations’ choppers were in operation.
News observers chalked up the cooperation to a fresh spirit inhabiting the market since a terrorist attack destroyed the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
There was one glitch, however: WNYW’s helicopter was the only one actually in the air at the time of the incident, and WCBS used a few still images from WNYW’s coverage without permission.