NYC terror attack: Journalists covering a crime right in their backyard

NEW YORK — The initial reports of an “active shooter” in lower Manhattan were wrong. So were the reports a few minutes later of a “road rage” incident. But unfortunately the reports of multiple fatalities were right.

The 3 p.m. hour on Tuesday was consumed by confusing reports of injures along the West Side Highway in New York City. The first eyewitness accounts on Twitter were of shots fired, which turned out to be the end of the incident, not the beginning. Police fired at the suspect after he crashed a rented pickup truck into a school bus, then stepped outside with an imitation firearm.

Then came eyewitness video from more than a half mile away, showing mangled bikes and injured bicyclists along a bike path.

Some local TV stations cited anonymous sources who said a dispute between two drivers led to the crash.

But during the 4 p.m. hour, it became clear that the injuries were from a truck attack — and that it was being investigated as terrorism. In the 5 p.m. hour, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said eight people were dead in an “act of terror.”

Journalists were on the scene within minutes. Some of them worked in office towers nearby, others lived in nearby neighborhoods.

The New Yorker, which is based at One World Trade Center a couple blocks from the crash site, described how “the news media descended on one eyewitness to the attack.”

News anchors like CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Fox’s Shep Smith, who live in the city, anchored news coverage from lower Manhattan on Tuesday night.

Cooper said the attack happened on a “bike path along the Hudson River that so many people, myself included, consider one of the best things about living here.”

The local connections added a personal dimension to the coverage. “Today” show co-host Savannah Guthrie walked to work on Wednesday morning — because she anchored from her TriBeCa neighborhood near the crime scene.

“I live about three blocks from where I’m standing right now,” Guthrie said on “Today.” “I was about to take my kids out trick or treating” when the attack happened. “So many people were just about to take their kids out.”

On MSNBC, reporter Louis Burgdorf described walking around the neighborhood in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

“People were out on the streets. They took cues I think from the governor and mayor saying ‘we can’t be frightened by this and change the way we live by this,'” he said. “As a New Yorker, it made me really proud to see people on Greenwich Street still trick or treating, still out with their kids, pushing their strollers and living their lives. That was amazing to see last night.”