News Nets Deploy for Katrina


The all-news networks kicked into high gear Sunday and Monday with nonstop coverage of Hurricane Katrina -- one of the worst storms to hit the Gulf Coast in decades.

Coverage proved both informative and entertaining, with the networks running live and taped shots of reporters keeping an eye out for flying debris and struggling to remain standing while Katrina pounded Louisiana and Mississippi.

New Orleans was they key focus of coverage Monday morning. Brian Williams reported for NBC and MSNBC from inside the Louisiana Superdome, which housed stranded city residents, while Fox News Channel’s Shepard Smith and his crew, provided live shots of the storm hitting the French Quarter, where they set up at the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street.

Some correspondents that previously covered the war in Iraq were called into action, with Cable News Network’s John Zarella reporting from the French Quarter while Fox News’s Steve Harrigan reported from Gulfport, Miss.

Storm coverage will likely provide a big ratings boost for the all-news networks, although national ratings from Sunday and Monday won’t be available until Tuesday morning.

The Weather Channel released a small amount of ratings data Monday afternoon from some unnamed meter markets, boasting that it posted a 1.29 household rating from 5 a.m. to noon on Sunday, in addition to a 1.7 rating from 5 a.m. Sunday until 2 a.m. on Monday. Metered market ratings typically don’t reflect final national ratings from Nielsen Media Research.

CBS, NBC and ABC relied on their morning-show anchors to provide coverage Monday morning, with Matt Lauer anchoring NBC, while Charlie Gibson led ABC’s coverage. Harry Smith led the coverage on CBS, which returned to regularly scheduled programming, The Price is Right, at 11:30 a.m. ET.