Australian networks interrupted broadcasting schedule for rolling coverage all day and into the evening, stretching news crews to the limit as Australians turned to their television screens.
The Lindt cafe opposite Seven’s Martin Place base saw The Morning Show with Larry Emdur and Kylie Gillies covering the unfolding event Live for 40 minutes before police evacuated Seven’s building.
The proximity to Seven’s studio, as well as bank and government buildings, was frequently mentioned as a likely factor in the choice of site.
But as the home of Seven News, the crisis threw into disarray their normal ability to cover major breaking news. But while Seven’s crews hit the street as the city began to grasp what was taking place, a makeshift news centre was set up in the board room at Seven’s Jones Bay headquarters.
Seven juggled their coverage by leaning upon its Melbourne newsroom with Nick Etchells anchoring much of the day’s coverage. Across the day reporters included Ann Sanders, Melissa Doyle, Chris Reason and Mark Riley. As the drama wore on deep into the night Seven’s Perth crew took charge of presentation, anchored by Susannah Carr.
Seven was matched in their coverage by Nine, TEN, ABC and SKY News -all of which stayed on air across the day with rolling coverage.
Studio 10 remained on air for a marathon 8.5 hours led by Sarah Harris, Joe Hildebrand, Ita Buttrose, with Hugh Riminton, Sandra Sully and former NSW premier Kristina Keneally. Following an extended TEN News was a Project special and more rolling coverage with Riminton and Sully thereafter.
Nine’s coverage stretched across the day and into the night including an extended edition of A Current Affair, with Tracy Grimshaw breaking into her holidays, and Nine abandoning its evening schedule with Wendy Kingston as anchor.
Many journos and crews put in marathon hours yesterday under challenging conditions where teamwork was the key.
International coverage came via Al Jazeera, BBC and CNN.
But providing wall to wall coverage with no clear finish line in sight also meant having to fill hours of broadcast time with speculation, recapping, press conferences, opinion and interviews with experts in hostage situations, psychology and the Muslim community.
Sometimes the language was quick to imply conclusions other than those still being avoided by Police.
As some hostages even contacted media, some chose to report the details while others observed police requests to keep the details undisclosed.
After 2am the crisis reached a fatal crescendo, ending a marathon day of Live broadcasting. This morning Sunrise was reporting on location, outside the exclusion zone.
Networks will now need to amend upcoming schedules as a result of rolling coverage. Today’s ratings results will not resemble any of the programming that went out yesterday. Coincidentally, some of the programmes scheduled included Nabbed, Person of Interest and Homeland.
Sadly there was nothing fictional about what unfolded in the real world.