Channel 31's Eli Stokols rides the Najibullah Zazi express

Channel 4's Rick Sallinger isn't the only local TV type in New York City tracing the tracks of terror-suspect Najibullah Zazi. Eli Stokols, the go-to-guy for the two-headed Channel 31/The Deuce monster, is there as well. But the package above demonstrates why so few affiliates are willing to open their wallets for pricey travel these days. It's not just because an on-screen graphic briefly identifies Stokols as "Hank Cary," whoever the hell that is. Stokols is only on camera in a studio setting. Whereas Sallinger could be seen in a package from last Monday interviewing the man now living in Zazi's old apartment, Stokols doesn't even appear in the segment above that features the same guy. Moreover, other man-on-the-street clips could be file footage. In at least a couple of shots, the microphone label in view lists "PIX," not either of the Denver outlets. Of course, Stokols could be working with New York City crew members -- but since they're obviously on site, NYC-based correspondents could have done the job just as well (and it's not as if no one in the Apple is covering Zazi). These days, TV stations can't justify expensive junkets unless the presence of their own guy adds significant value. In the case of the story above, anyway, it doesn't.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts