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Enough Attention For Thailand's Coup?

News of a bloodless coup in Thailand interrupted a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly yesterday, and coverage of the story has been prominent on the front pages of several major newspapers today. It's one of the top stories on Wrote the New York Times this morning, "The events on Tuesday returned Thailand to a time that most experts here thought was finally past, raising questions about the future of Thai democracy and the stability of a country that is a prime tourist destination with strong economic links to the West." On the evening newscasts last night, ABC's "World News Tonight," ran a brief segment on the coup – which it teased at the top of the program -- with correspondent Mark Litke in Hong Kong. NBC's "Nightly News," featured a segment with correspondent Ian Williams reporting by phone from Bangkok. However, on the CBS "Evening News," only a brief mention of the coup came within White House correspondent Jim Axelrod's story about the U.N. meeting. From that piece:
Axelrod: For the last time as UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, welcomed world leaders and then quickly painted a dire picture.

Kofi Annan (United Nations Secretary-General): People in all parts of the world are threatened though some are more aware of it than others by the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

Axelrod: And then, as if on cue, reality reminded everyone of the threat of instability. This time in Thailand where the military launched a coup. This is the week where the world's most powerful rivals, enemies and allies, all share the same halls in New York.

You can watch the whole segment here. As it seemed that newspapers and the other broadcast networks highlighted the news more prominently, it seemed worth asking why the "Evening News" presented the information as it did. "Evening News" Senior Broadcast Producer Bill Owens said that originally, news of the coup was being "seriously considered" as a "tell" – a 20-30 second mention in the broadcast's news briefing, during which various stories are rounded up. "Then we decided that it should be paid more attention to and placed higher in the show," said Owens, so the information was going to be included in Axelrod's story, high up in the second paragraph of the piece.

In the end, however, "It frankly got pared down too much," said Owens. "And that's our fault here in the fishbowl [where the show's executive producer and senior producers work] because of time constraint issues. It got pared down more than it should have."

Tonight, said Owens, news about the coup is currently slated to be included as a 20-30 second tell in the news briefing during the first block of the show. As far as any future coverage of the story, correspondent Barry Petersen has been monitoring the events in Thailand from Beijing and, according to foreign editor Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews, there are currently no plans to send him to Thailand.

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