Scripps Station Drops the Ball on Big Story

Scripps owned KJRH in Tulsa has been a mess for years. The station has gone through recent management changes, but they still have not found their footing when it comes to decent news coverage. 

In Tulsa, the big story has been the manslaughter trial of white Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby who shot unarmed black man Terrence Crutcher last year.

While trial has dominated local newscasts, as it wound down, KJRH really dropped the ball.

According to sources, despite the fact that the station had a team of Reporters at the courthouse, a source inside the KJRH newsroom declared that a verdict was ready around 7:00 p.m. It would later turn out that a verdict wouldn't come in for another two and a half hours.

KJRH sent a push alert and cut into primetime programming for verdict coverage, but there were more problems than one can imagine. Reporters and staff scrambled to get on the air first with news that a verdict was in, but they ended up running with a false story for more than an hour.

The ticker at the bottom of the screen said that a verdict would be announced in 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, it became clear that something was wrong.

No other stations had cut in, the newspapers and bloggers haven't announced a verdict was in on social media either.

To fill time while producers and editors figured out what was actually going on, one reporter at the courthouse Tony Russell began to speculate that protests could break out if Shelby is found not guilty. Rogers was saying all this, despite the fact there were  no protesters at the courthouse for either side at the scene. You can see a clearly empty courthouse entrance behind him (picture above).

The station also had up a graphic that said "Betty Shelby Guilty" for much of their special report (screen shot above). Shelby would later that night be found Not Guilty of all charges against her.

After 45-50 minutes of their special report that a verdict had been reached, KJRH started walking back their breaking news alert. First with their reporter on scene now saying that she had confirmed no verdict was in yet.

KJRH viewers (after being lead on by a story that wasn't a story for more than an hour) took to Facebook to demand their primetime shows, some with season finales, be aired again soon, and they also expressed displeasure with the fact that they had to sit through a story that hadn't developed yet.

Instead of KJRH 2 Working for You.... perhaps they need to work on themselves and find a way to cover the facts and worry about being first later.