Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dave Madsen of WGGB Gives Fascinating Lecture on Disaster News Coverage at the Isenberg School of Management

We have amazing professionals in our community, several of whom have delivered guest lectures in the Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare course that I am teaching this semester at the Isenberg School. For this I am extremely grateful as are my students.

Since I believe in disseminating information - yes, Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times, there are quite a few of us academics who interact with the public, through our blogs, public forums and venues, OpEds, etc., (and  this, I promise,  will be a topic of a future blogpost) -  I present some of the highlights of another brilliant lecture today with photos.

Today, we hosted Mr. Dave Madsen, who is the Anchor and Managing Editor at WGGB - abc40 and he went to UMass Amherst! He has over 40 years of news broadcasting experience - imagine! Today, he shared with us his coverage of such major news events as 9/11 and the June 1, 2011 tornado that struck Springfield and covered 35 miles. He was also on the job in 1979 when a tornado hit Windsor Locks in neighboring Connecticut and the power in their newsroom went off. He spoke of newsreels, the advent of video, and the Internet, and the impacts on news.

Mr. Madsen grew up in western MA, and had a great story of being paid $3 per hour while doing data processing at Whitmore (this is the UMass Administration building) as a student with big IBM computers but the lure of broadcasting at $2 per hour, even after a counteroffer of $4 per hour, was a wise decision that he made, although his mother was not pleased at the time.

He told of how, as a young boy, he recalled (and this led him, in part, to pursue a career in news), when Ted Kennedy, then a young senator, at age 32, was in a plane that crashed in Southhampton, Madsen's hometown, in 1964, only months after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He showed us a news video from that event and followed up with some of his dramatic reports.

He emphasized the impact of technology on news coverage including that of social media.

He also noted how many of his interns come from UMass Amherst and what a great work ethic our students have - I agree!

He left the Isenberg School at about 11AM and then we just had to see him do the noon news broadcast -- the consummate professional.

We thank Dave Madsen  for his mesmerizing lecture complete with a video of the 2011 tornado and his reporting of the shutdown of the US airspace after 9/11, the controlled evacuation of our Bradley airport, and the important role that a news broadcaster plays in giving information out to the public and also in calming them in times of disasters.He even spoke of the "controlled chaos" in the newsroom during such times. He also noted that journalists and broadcasters used to check 3 sources - and now with the 24/7 news cycle and even news streaming on the Internet this may not occur.

Also, we are glad that he stayed in western Massachusetts, where he was born and raised,  since he serves the viewers so well and is truly the face of news in the Pioneer Valley!