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How we covered it: Kansas City's Super Bowl parade and shooting

Outdoor photo in bright sunlight of a metal barrier that is lined with red and yellow balloons. There are flowers gathered on the pavement in front of it along with small stuff animals. A sign attached to the metal barrier reads "Kansas city Strong, United."
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
The memorial for victims of the Jan. 14 attack is slowly growing in front of Union Station where one person died and 22 people were injured in a shooting on Jan. 14 after the Chiefs Super Bowl celebration rally.

Even before the Chiefs won the Super Bowl, KCUR was thinking about parade coverage. And then the newsroom had to pivot when the story went from triumphant to chaotic.

As with any big news story, KCUR’s coverage of the Kansas City Super Bowl Parade on Feb. 14 had many moving components involving several parts of the station.

Even before the Chiefs won the Super Bowl, KCUR was thinking about parade coverage. After all, we’d done this before (twice)! We reported a story ahead of time on the emerging details for a parade, which published immediately after the game ended, and then solidified the rest of our newsroom’s coverage plans.

Seven beat reporters were along the parade route and inside the rally crowd, taking photos, and talking with fans and businesses. Up To Date’s Steve Kraske, along with four producers, an intern and our director of technology and broadcast operations Chris Prewitt, produced a live broadcast from the route.

Up to Date broadcasted from recordBar, and reporters covering the action filed stories and rested at Casual Animal Brewing in a space the business set aside for KCUR.

Back at KCUR, audience editor Gabe Rosenberg fed the live blog – assembling information, photographs and interviews from the reporters on the parade route – and coordinated social media posts.

Six editors took on editing and filing stories. Typically, KCUR airs six newscasts per day, but for the parade day, that expanded to eight.

Originally, the Kansas City Today podcast team planned to condense the news into an episode to run the following morning.

All aspects were running smoothly and working as planned when, just before the 2 p.m. newscast, reports of a disturbance rippled through the crowd at Union Station and through the KCUR newsroom – coming from social media, other news outlets on the scene, police scanners and individual reports.

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl celebration in Kansas City, Mo., Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024.
Reed Hoffmann
Associated Press
Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl celebration in Kansas City, Mo., Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024.

At that time, authorities had not confirmed that shots were fired, so the 2 p.m. newscast on KCUR 89.3 and the website’s live blog reported only what was known: the rally area at Union Station was being evacuated (including KCUR’s Julie Denesha, who was on site taking photos but was a safe distance from the scene).

This is an important note: KCUR will never report on speculation, which could cause panic and confusion. After confirming that all staff on the scene were safe, the newsroom worked to get confirmation from the Kansas City Police Department, parade officials and City Hall.

General assignment reporter Sam Zeff went back to Union Station to capture reactions, while investigative reporter Peggy Lowe rerouted from a trip to Topeka to attend the KCPD press conference. Back at the newsroom, reporters hopped on the phones with area hospitals for injury number updates and monitored hospital and first responder press conferences.

Covering live press conferences involves more than a single reporter on-site. One reporter listens and takes notes, while another records the full audio file for later use. Another producer or newscaster pulls relevant tape snippets to be used in on-air content immediately.

All of the information gathered was provided back to the newsroom for newscasts, the live blog and social media. KCUR published its first standalone news story on the shooting at 2:38 p.m. and sent out a Breaking News email to subscribers of that product and our Early Bird newsletter.

Shortly thereafter, national and international outlets began reaching out to KCUR, including NPR, the BBC, the Times of London and others. KCUR’s national correspondent Frank Morris appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered at 4:17 p.m.

The live blog, digital posts and social media continued throughout the night and into the next day, and follow-up stories put the shooting in context with Kansas City’s record-high homicides, Missouri’s gun preemption laws, the trauma and impact on area children, and much more.

The Up To Date team also devoted show segments to the shooting, efforts to make gun laws tougher or remove existing laws, remembrances of shooting victim Lisa Lopez-Galvan, perspectives from first responders and reporters who witnessed the event and more.

A month later, veteran reporters Peggy Lowe and Frank Morris continue to follow the ongoing investigations and related charges, injured victims, and the frequency of gun violence in both Kansas City and across the country.

Many in the newsroom will continue to report on related issues in the weeks and months ahead.

KCUR served as a resource for community members who sought breaking news, context, analysis and – most importantly – facts about what happened. More than 1.3 million visited kcur.org for this information, and at least eight KCUR stories were picked up and shared by NPR, reaching a potential audience of more than 10 million across the country.

“While this was an extraordinary day, every single day the entire newsroom puts its resources and person-power into telling the stories that matter to the Kansas City metro,” says interim news director Madeline Fox. “We hope this ‘peek behind the curtain’ gives readers a chance to see all that goes into creating the content we provide on air and online 365 days a year. We are grateful to our members, listeners and supporters who make all of this possible.”

Karen Campbell is the Director of Institutional Giving & Communications for KCUR 89.3. You can reach her at karen@kcur.org.
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