WVLT VolunteerTV was the only media organization to have video of the early morning arrests of three University of Tennessee football players and a woman in connection with a robbery in the parking lot of the Pilot station on Cumberland Avenue.
Vice President for News & Station Operations Steve Crabtree said WVLT (VolunteerTV.com) got the video through good old-fashioned journalism of listening to scanner calls and working sources.
"Routine diligent overnight news gathering" is how Crabtree described it in an e-mail.
"It was videographer Keith Smith who happened to be on call overnight and was dispatched to the location by our overnight assignment editor/producer," Crabtree said. "We learned early in the news gathering process that one of those in the video was strongly thought to be Nu'Keese Richardson.
"I'm sure we upset a few of our sources by calling them at 3:00 in the morning and getting them out of bed. An hour before the start of our 5:30 morning news, I'd been told off the record who two of the individuals were but still, we'd received nothing ‘official' and on the record.
"We aired the video throughout our morning show without identifying the alleged suspects who were being taken into custody, opting to err on the side of caution. We prudently awaited confirmation from either police or UT officials. I can speak for myself when I say with great candor that I dragged my feet just a little hoping the information gleaned in the wee hours of the morning was wrong.
"I was a little anxious watching the video on our air thinking someone with a competitor would recognize the individuals. Between 7:00 and 7:30 we'd gotten confirmation from UT. We still dotted a few more I's and crossed some more T's before doing a cut-in connecting the names to the pictures via a LIVE special report, preempting network at about 7:40 during The Early Show.
"We weren't as worried about being first as we were worried about being right. But we were the first TV news operation in town to report it on air and on our web site. It'll be something I use in the future to point out the prudence of always checking, double checking then rechecking one's facts."