NEW book! Inventing TV News Live and Local in Los Angeles

Breaking news! My new book, Inventing TV News: Live and Local in Los Angeles is out! Travel back in time to the legendary TV newscasts where live coverage of breaking news was born. Download the ebook here and read on any device . Or, order the print book here and it will be shipped to you. Readers and reviews wanted!

Inventing TV News Anzur book cover

Inventing TV News: Live and Local in Los Angeles travels back in time to the legendary newscasts that defined live, breaking news coverage on television.

Everyone’s Child, 1949: Two rival stations in Los Angeles televise the attempted rescue of a toddler from an abandoned well pipe. For the first time, TV provides live images of breaking news as it happens.

Covering Crime, 1951: An eight-year-old girl is abducted from a movie theater by a known sex offender. With live coverage of the shocking crime, TV news embraces the motto: If it bleeds, it leads.

The Atom Bomb, 1952: A local TV station brings the Cold War into America’s living rooms when the TV networks in New York said it couldn’t be done.

The Telecopter, 1958: A brave engineer risks his life to invent the world’s first TV helicopter. Will a crash on live TV prevent aerial breaking news coverage from getting off the ground?

Celebrity News Anchors, 1970s: Competing anchormen in Los Angeles define the image of local TV news presenters in popular culture, inspiring characters in movies and TV sitcoms.

Hal Fishman and Terry Anzur

Terry Anzur researched her book, “Inventing TV News, Live and Local in Los Angeles,” during the time she was co-anchoring KTLA News at Ten and teaching at USC.

Backstory of Inventing TV News

I wrote this book while I was a working mom, anchoring at KTLA and holding down a second full time job as an assistant professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. The school did not have a “professional track” at the time and I had to try to earn tenure the old fashioned way: publish or perish. KTLA management gave me permission to do research in the station’s musty archives in my “free time.”

Inventing TV News Terry Anzur

Terry Anzur with Evelyn DeWolfe, who was married to Klaus Landsberg during the formative years of Los Angeles TV News. She and her son, Cleve Landsberg, are interviewed in the book.

KTLA alumni and colleagues kindly consented to be interviewed. Obviously I’m not the first to write about the attempted rescue of Kathy Fiscus. But the KTLA-centered version of the story doesn’t take into account the wider context of competitive news coverage by other TV and radio stations and newspapers. Kathy’s mom, the first to lose a loved one in view of live TV cameras, graciously answered my questions in writing. I even spoke with some of the brave “sandhogs” who risked their lives to save a child. Click here to watch the book trailer.

Live and Local in Los Angeles: The Rest of the Story

And what came next? Los Angeles TV journalists debating whether the details of a shocking crime should be broadcast into people’s living rooms. They brought the atom bomb to the screen when the national networks declined. The intense competition between TV stations in Los Angeles led engineer John Silva to risk his life while inventing the world’s first and only TV news helicopter in 1958. He kindly shared the details of the top secret project.

Inventing TV News KTLA Telecopter

The world’s first and only TV news helicopter was invented in a top secret project and nearly crashed on its very first live shot. Photo courtesy John Silva.

The emergence of the celebrity TV news anchors ushered in a new era of local TV news. No longer a money-losing public service requirement, it transitioned into happy talk and became a huge profit center for local TV station owners. The larger-than-life anchors in Los Angeles came to define the anchorman in popular culture, from Ted Baxter to Ron Burgundy. At the same time, stations were slowly beginning to respond to mandates for more women and people of color, both in news content and staffing.

Why You Should Read “Inventing TV News”

I hope this book will bring a smile to the faces of “news geezers” everywhere. As a talent coach for today’s reporters and anchors, I hope journalism students, working journalists  and TV viewers will learn something about the history of breaking news on TV. It might even keep the history alive for a new generation that hasn’t ever heard of Klaus Landsberg or Mary Tyler Moore.

Most US cities have more than one TV news station today. They remain intensely competitive, even when there is only one surviving newspaper in the city they serve. And for coverage of local emergencies and disasters, live TV news has no equal. It’s surprising how much has remained the same through the years.

Thanks in advance for downloading the book or ordering a print copy. And for kindly leaving a review on Goodreads or Amazon or your favorite ebook platform.