Monday, July 31, 2006

Rare Charles Whitman tower shooting video

In honor (?) of the 40th anniversary of Charles Whitman's shooting spree atop the clocktower at the University of Texas (August 1, 1966), I have decided to post this rare video footage and TV coverage of the crime. These videos were found in the trash at a TV station I used to work at.

Please read the extensive Wikipedia article on the man and the shootings... no use in me reposting the same stuff.

What I realized after watching this footage years ago is that I think this the first time such a "breaking news" type of event was carried live on television. Remote TV broadcasts in 1966 were certainly possible, but required a huge truck full of equipment, not to mention a lot of time and manpower to set the thing up. Remotes were dome for sporting events and other planned activities, but not for "breaking news" as is so common now.

The KLRN footage (below) was broadcast live throughout Austin.. the reason being the station was right next door to the tower. They apparently just pointed a studio camera out the window. I believe this would be the same studio used by the now-KLRU for the Austin City Limits program.

Although the live footage is actually rather dull by today's standards, the pieces from the local reporters are great examples of television journalism.

KLRN footage part 1 - first cut-in

KLRN footage part 2

KLRN footage part 3

NBC News - Huntley/Brinkley Report

KTBC - first part of News Special with Neal Spelce