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It was Saturday morning, just before Labor Day, and shoppers at the local Walmart in Tupelo, Miss., were filling their baskets. Suddenly, an announcement came over the PA asking everyone to evacuate. A stolen twin-engine aircraft was circling the area, threatening to crash into the store.
In this age of terrorism, once can only imagine what those people were thinking.
Thankfully, Allen Media’s WTVA Tupelo was on the air almost immediately. Over the following hours, as the pilot flew over community after community, often at dangerously low levels, anchor Craig Ford and chief meteorologist Matt Laubhan tracked his every move, sharing a wealth of details and the latest video. Many saw the coverage on their television screens, others on their phones, but all shared the experience of reliable information in real time.
I also watched WTVA’s live coverage and was impressed. This was the kind of incident that could have easily created panic, but in my opinion Ford and Laubhan’s professionalism and calm demeanor kept that from happening. It would have been easy to sensationalize the story, but neither Ford nor Laubhan did. They stuck to the facts, demonstrating why people still trust local television more than any other media.
Bringing in Laubhan as a primary face of the coverage was a smart move. As a meteorologist in a tornado-prone market, Laubhan knows the area well, so he was able to give exact locations as the plane wandered from