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"Evening News" Revisits Pakistan

The press has taken some flack recently for its coverage (or lack thereof) of the Pakistan earthquake -- some of it from Public Eye. And weeks later, as the death toll continues to rise and many are still left without relief, criticism continues to mount.

So we were pleased to hear that the new president of CBS News, Sean McManus, expressed an interest in the story when he sat in on an editorial meeting the week before last. We were also pleased to see that last night's "Evening News" had broached the topic, following up on the aftermath of the earthquake one month later with a piece by Mark Phillips, who followed a mule train through the mountains of Sat Bani as Pakistani relief workers attempted to reach those who are otherwise inaccessible.

You can watch the piece below: also posted a reporter's notebook feature from Phillips, in which he discusses the experience.

When he last spoke with us about the subject, CBS News Foreign Editor Chris Hulme mentioned that he would be keeping an eye on the story, and might revisit it later. He did.

"It's been a month since the first earthquake and we wanted to go back to see what progress had been made. A month seemed like a good anniversary," said Hulme. He added that there were two major relevant factors that offered an appropriate time to revisit it: winter is soon approaching in the region, which will surely complicate relief efforts (as Phillips' piece noted.) Further, said Hulme, the earthquake continues to have a substantial impact. "The death toll keeps rising and there are still 3 million people without homes," he said. "It's a huge story."

Hulme said that Phillips and his crew would be "filing a number of stories, all quake-related" and would remain in the region until at least the end of the week. Tonight's "Evening News" broadcast is scheduled to include another piece from Phillips about Navy Seabees from Gulfport, Mississippi – many of whom had their homes destroyed by Katrina – helping with relief efforts in Pakistan. When I asked if stories from Pakistan would be filed on the "Evening News" throughout the week, Hulme said that "It's up to [the "Evening News"] to decide whether they air them, but we'll be there and filing stories."

The logistical difficulties in covering the earthquake that Hulme mentioned in our previous post, such as a lack of infrastructure and a lack of access to damaged areas, still exist. "Infrastructure hasn't gotten any better," said Hulme. He said that last night's story was completed in advance so there would be enough time to gain access and mark the anniversary, but he emphasized that the logistics "are still horrendous."

Hulme said that the decision to revisit the story was not a response to criticism from those who felt the event was not adequately covered by the media. "I thought we covered it well last time," said Hulme, adding that the anniversary, the approach of winter and the disaster's ongoing impact offered "the next natural time to do the story."

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