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Officials convince station to sit on terror threat story

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NEWS MEDIA UPDATE   ·   NEW YORK   ·   Newsgathering   ·   Oct. 7, 2005

NEWS MEDIA UPDATE   ·   NEW YORK   ·   Newsgathering   ·   Oct. 7, 2005


Officials convince station to sit on terror threat story

  • New York City’s NBC news affiliate heeded a request from high-ranking government officials that it hold off on airing a story about a threat of terrorism on the subway.

Oct. 7, 2005  ·   After television reporter Jonathan Dienst learned of a terrorist threat to New York City’s subway on Tuesday, he withheld the information from viewers for two days at the behest of New York and Washington officials, according to news reports.

“We had a lot of discussion and conversation about this in the station and it was not an easy decision, but we felt it was the right decision to make,” Dienst said.

The request came from high-ranking federal officials and one local official, Dienst told Newsday.

The New York Daily News reported that Dienst, ready to report the threat Tuesday on WNBC, held the story because authorities claimed informing the public would jeopardize their ability to capture three suspects. Local police and city officials also were asked to hold the information from the public.

Once two of the suspects were caught, Washington officials gave the green light for city and police to alert the public, The New York Times reported. This allowed Dienst to air his report minutes before the city held a press conference about the terrorist threats, the Daily News reported.

“Overall it was a tough decision,” Dienst said. “I’m in the information business not in the information withholding business.”

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