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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Stand Off

"The Hollywood Reporter" recently ran an interesting story on the movie "Argo."  It deals with Americans hiding out at the home of the Canadian ambassador during the Iran hostage crisis.

Ted Koppel of ABC News knew about the hiding Americans.  Koppel received a call from the secretary of state, asking him to be careful with the story.  If the Iranians knew Americans were hiding at the home of the Canadian ambassador, the embassy would be stormed and people would die.  Koppel decided, rightly, not to run with it.  He said it was the only time in fifty years that he spiked a story.

Clearly, I've never experienced anything close to that during my 30 + years in the business, but I do recall a story on a summer morning in Peckville.

It was a stand off.  A man with some mental issues was inside his apartment.  Police were outside.  The man wouldn't come out.  There was the possibility he was armed, and would harm himself and others.  We were outside with a live truck, when I was approached by the police chief.  He asked us to hold off on the story, and he gave his reasons.

In the old days, police would simply cut the power and phone lines to the home involved, essentially ending contact with the outside world.  The person inside would have no idea what was going on outside.  Times have changed.  Thanks to cell phones and other wireless technology, there is no such thing as a total blackout.

I dialed the office, got our acting news director at the time, and put him on the phone with the chief.  They talked it over.  Reason won out, and we sat on the story until it was over.  The man surrendered peacefully.  We got out story and all's well that ends well.

You just have to wonder what would have happened if Facebook, Twitter, texts, etc were around in 1979 and 1980.

I'm not sure how it would have ended, but I am sure things would have been a lot more complicated.