Like metro newspapers, local TV stations are suffering from significant resource shortages these days -- and as a result, the sort of investigative reporting that was once a staple of the medium is becoming rarer and rarer. And yet somehow, Channel 7 managed to assemble one of the most sweeping and compelling pieces of this type in recent memory: 33 Minutes to 3-4 Right, a half-hour broadcast helmed by correspondent Tony Kovaleski that's aired numerous times over the past three days or so.
The topic of the program -- slow emergency response times by Denver Health -- isn't new. Indeed, Westword's Jared Jacang Maher published "Delayed Emergency Response," a feature article on the subject, back in June 2008. But the 7News salvo is hardly a rehash. The investigation is framed around the December 2008 crash of Continental Flight 1404, which could have resulted in catastrophic, life-threatening injuries for dozens of people instead of only the two passengers who wound up in critical condition -- and thank goodness it didn't, because it took more than half an hour for the first ambulance to reach the scene.
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Last night, Channel 7 revealed that Denver Health has instituted new policies in response to the work assembled by Kovaleski and producers Arthur Kane and Tom Burke, and that's wholly appropriate. Now if only other stations would follow 7News' lead when it comes to investigations like this one, which proves that local television can still make a difference even in economically challenging times like these.