Knoxville TV station gets scoop on UT player arrests with 'routine diligent overnight news gathering'

Screenshot of WVLT VolunteerTV exclusive video of the arrests early Thursday morning. Three University of Tennessee football players and a woman were jailed on charges of attempted armed robbery.

WVLT Video Screenshot

Screenshot of WVLT VolunteerTV exclusive video of the arrests early Thursday morning. Three University of Tennessee football players and a woman were jailed on charges of attempted armed robbery.

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."

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Comments » 40

midnite__VOL writes:

As the old saying goes, the early bird catches the worm.

tomatosoup writes:

Awesome job guys!!!! Keep up the great reporting.

tomatosoup writes:

2nd...I forgot to mention that in my post above!

VolFaninTriCities writes:

Well Crabtree sounds awful proud of himself. Go have a cookie to celebrate your little success.

P.S. - WBIR is still better.

mahabrando writes:

in response to VolFaninTriCities:

Well Crabtree sounds awful proud of himself. Go have a cookie to celebrate your little success.

P.S. - WBIR is still better.

hahahah!

tomatosoup writes:

I couldn't believe it when someone texted me this information this morning. I am in DC and it has rained all day. In fact, it rained up here last night too!!!!! GoVols

newtonrail writes:

Jack, it's "err on side of caution instead of air."

TommyJack writes:

in response to Ellison_Vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Russo and Packer rock.

pms151 writes:

GLOATING. Maybe someone can enlighten us with an appropriate Aesop fable. Even Chaucer might do. 'Parasite' is the more accurate term. Google that.

lail#204076 (staff) writes:

in response to newtonrail:

Jack, it's "err on side of caution instead of air."

You are so right. Fixed.

Foreveravol writes:

No one outside of "the media" gives a rats ### who breaks a story first. Just report it right!

ermsports#220184 writes:

Man, Edwards looks scared to death. Richardson looks like he's been down that road before.

rockban62 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

rockban62 writes:

I would like to know who was with the trailer park queen.Yet another case of bad judgement.

OTPVol writes:

in response to long_vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Premature articulation...

FWBVol writes:

in response to Ellison_Vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

These guys are news reporters, not Vol fans. I'm a UT grad in the media in another state, and if I was in Knoxville, I'd break the story too.

Don't blame the TV station for the stupidity of those committing the crime.

Futurecoach16 writes:

in response to Ellison_Vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sheesh, journalists/reporters can't ever win, can they? They write their opinion, they get bashed for having a different opinion. They write a news story stating the facts, however unpleasant they may be, while keeping their personal opinions out of it, and they get called worthless. At least they did it right by getting the story and waiting for confirmation.

atlvolunteer writes:

F---- IDIOTS!! THE CRIME WAS DUMB ENOUGH BUT IN THAT PICTURE HE IS WEARING A UT FOOTBALL SHIRT!!!

ncvol17 writes:

Robbery at our biggest contributors gas stations?..Isn't Armed robbery a given for required jail time like drunk driving is?? Those 2 probably thought it would be a fun thing to do with an air gun to get 50 bucks or so, how much did they expect 2 guys to have? Stupid is stupid...time for jail boys,, the girl will get off w/ a drug misdemeanor I bet.

bjjbhardy#656118 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

ncvol17 writes:

in response to Ellison_Vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Gee, I wonder why some in society forgive all if it for the team. Maybe we could just house them in prison and let them play ball on Saturdays..Sound good to you? What if it was your kid robbed at gunpoint? Did they know what kind of gun was in their faces? Do you live in the wild west of Cocke county?

Liberal_Vol writes:

in response to hiresanders:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Laydbakvol writes:

Jackson's attorney says Jackson "vehemently" maintains his innocence. He's been released on his own recognizance. Also, the victims don't think they should be kicked off of the team. Don't think they're going to get their wish.

whatcanbrowndoforyou writes:

Has the University planned a public announcement of any sort yet? I haven't heard of anything yet. Richardson and edwards are obviously gone but don't know about Jackson.

senracjr writes:

in response to hiresanders:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And hiresanders = Dumba__!

jet writes:

Does anybody but me find this all very odd? I mean the guys may be totally guilty of this. Kids do stupid things, but it is very odd. The kids in the car didn't have one dollar in their bill-folds so no money was actually taken? They were caught 1 mile down the road? The TV station just happened to be fast enough to get there and catch it on camera?
Given that there are lots of people who would love to see something like this happen, for various reasons, is it possible that it is not what it appears? I mean how hard would it be to set this thing up? Wait at a convenience store close to the campus. When some football players pull up and go in, throw some stuff in the back seat, call the cops, give a clear description, call the TV station. Probably not, but stranger things have happened. I'm just saying.

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to deerbedar1717:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

...lol dude

SmokeyHound writes:

3 down 30 to go.. we are gonana catch up to you florida!

VolOak writes:

I seem to remember they were listening to a "rapper" recently during practice who advocates smoking pot. I may be wrong in my memory...but IF TRUE...it sends a wrong message to some of the young thugs who were birthed in that kind of environment and have strong leanings toward the drug culture.

Maybe we need to give no hint of approval of the drug culture to kids who natrually lean in that direction.

rusty_shackleford writes:

The KNS basically said they were scooped by a news organization working harder than they are! hahaha

Keep it up, guys. You'll be a memory in no time.

memphis_vol_fan writes:

in response to whatcanbrowndoforyou:

Has the University planned a public announcement of any sort yet? I haven't heard of anything yet. Richardson and edwards are obviously gone but don't know about Jackson.

Honestly don't know. Don't be surprised if Kiffin doesn't address this fully until after the game Saturday.

VolinLexington writes:

in response to listentothemusic:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

There is NO reason to mention race in your post! Please do not perpetuate the sterotype of East Tennesseans.

TNPilgrim writes:

Amusing - all the posters that want to shoot the messenger. Is it still the concept at UT that all these felonies are to be forgiven if they're committed by UT Football players? If these punks were out smoking dope at 1:30AM in the middle of the week, that's bad enough. If they were trying to stick up a couple of good old boys at someplace as visible as the Pilot on Cumberland it just proves they're stupid criminals.

Regarding Kiffin's silence: he's probably following orders from Hamilton and the UT administrators while they huddle up and try to figure out damage control. UT never has been very adept at this - they should just bite the bullet and jettison these clowns immediately rather than drag the ordeal out and ruin what was starting to be a pretty good season. Also, perhaps Kiffin should rethink the idea of playing drug culture rap in practice and embracing the gangsta mentality.

mmhartz writes:

in response to midnite__VOL:

As the old saying goes, the early bird catches the worm.

But the second mouse gets the cheese.

FWBVol writes:

in response to jet:

Does anybody but me find this all very odd? I mean the guys may be totally guilty of this. Kids do stupid things, but it is very odd. The kids in the car didn't have one dollar in their bill-folds so no money was actually taken? They were caught 1 mile down the road? The TV station just happened to be fast enough to get there and catch it on camera?
Given that there are lots of people who would love to see something like this happen, for various reasons, is it possible that it is not what it appears? I mean how hard would it be to set this thing up? Wait at a convenience store close to the campus. When some football players pull up and go in, throw some stuff in the back seat, call the cops, give a clear description, call the TV station. Probably not, but stranger things have happened. I'm just saying.

I understand the story to say the TV crew got the the Pilot by the time the accused were brought back to be indentified by the victims. If that's the case, I don't find it strange at all that the TV crew was on hand.

For those of you not familiar with Knoxville, WVLT is on Papermill Road, which is just off I-40. It wouldn't be hard to get from the station to campus in less than 10 minutes at 2 a.m. when there is very little traffic.

The call comes across the scanner as soon as the accused leave the scene. It probably took the cops about five minutes to locate the get away car and another 15 minutes plus after the stop to search the car and get the IDs of the driver and passengers. And then there was the time it took to transport them back to the Pilot so the victims could verify if it was them or not.

So my guess is it took close to 30 minutes from the time the call came across the scanner about the armed robbery until the cops actually got the players back to the Pilot, which would have been more than enough time for the TV crew to get to the scene of the crime.

As for the other things, you yourself stated it best when you pointed out kids do stupid things.

MikeTheTiger writes:

Now, can you work on getting your weather forecast right?

mytrifecta writes:

in response to Ellison_Vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

not sure i get your point chief. What exactly did Russo and Packer do? They are news reporters...who reported the news. That news happened to be that these 3 morons committed a ridiculously stupid crime that will end their football career and ruin their life.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to rockban62:

I would like to know who was with the trailer park queen.Yet another case of bad judgement.

LOL

Any port in a storm.

Woof_Man_Jack writes:

AxeMan's quote: "Running on police scanner traffic is right up there with "rip and read" from the AP wire as one of the laziest forms of newsgathering."

So, you're suggesting tv stations avoid "running on scanner traffic?" WVLT apparently heard the call over scanner, then went and got the story. If you consider that lazy, how do you label what the other stations did...they didn't have the story at all until the middle of the morning ya know, and only after seeing it on 8. Do you work at channel 6 or 10?

Digger writes:

WVLT is by far the best news in East Tennessee. They have the best reporting, best-looking people (okay, I'm shallow) and don't fill their news with all the fluff that WBIR does.

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