More Messages: Countdown

Last night's 10 p.m. newscasts in Denver contained more tension than usual because of an intriguing confluence of events. Under ordinary circumstances, like it or not, channels 4, 7 and 9 probably would have led with the Denver Broncos' humiliating loss to the St. Louis Rams. But since this defeat took place on the eve of 9/11's fifth anniversary, these weren't ordinary circumstances. Clearly, the outlets had to open with 9/11 reports, as channels 2 and 31 did for their 9 p.m. programs. But the question remained: When would the network affiliates dump out of 9/11 coverage and get to the game?

The answer: earlier than they should have.

Channels 7 and 9 devoted a grand total of four minutes to 9/11, mainly focusing on the unveiling of a memorial in Broomfield. Channel 7 then jumped to the day's inclement weather, while Channel 9 reported about a missing Castle Rock family and the arrest of a Denver man who forced kids to sell candles in the rain. By 10:06 p.m., Channel 9 had cut live to Rod Mackey in St. Louis; one minute later, Channel 7's Lionel Bienvenu picked up the ball for his outlet.

And Channel 4? As the official Broncos station, the execs may have been more sensitive to the possibility of criticism for placing more attention on a sports contest than an American generation's greatest tragedy. Whatever the case, the folks there heroically held off until... 10:08 p.m. And yes, all three stations offered more about the game during their regular sports segments, not to mention the extended post-newscast NFL breakdowns that they air during the football season.

Clearly, the Broncos remain a top TV-news priority in these parts. Thank goodness the 9/11 anniversary only comes once a year. -- Michael Roberts

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