Sunday, September 25, 2016

the last book I ever read (American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst, excerpt seven)

from American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin:

Events moved so quickly on May 16 that the news media never caught up. But the shoot-out at Mel’s and the chase that followed gave local television stations the chance to mobilize the following morning. In those days, most local stations sent out camera crews to shoot film that had to be developed back at their studios. But KNXT—which stood for “experimental television”—possessed a new technology that allowed it to broadcast live from the field through a microwave transmitter attached to the top of a small truck. The technology was so new that the team at KNXT is said to have invented its name: the Minicam.

KNXT (later renamed KCBS) would become a national prototype for local news in America. This happened, in part, because Mary Tyler Moore’s aunt happened to work as the business manager of the station, and she shared tales of the station’s lead anchor, Jerry Dunphy—who served as the model for the hapless Ted Baxter. But the station was also a journalistic and ratings leader, with a strong institutional commitment to securing scoops. For KNXT, the Minicam was a not-so-secret weapon. Bill Deiz, a thirty-year-old correspondent for KNXT, wanted to deploy the new technology when he showed up for work on the morning of May 17 to cover the biggest story the city had seen in a long time: the sudden, thunderous arrival of the Symbionese Liberation Army.

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