One of the most interesting aspects of a local news collection is that the coverage provides a regional perspective for national news events. On December 2, 1999 the Mars Polar Lander was quickly approaching the Martian atmosphere in preparation for a landing which would send significant scientific information back to Earth. Scientists hoped that data gathered from the lander would tell us more about the red planet, and maybe even help us to understand if Mars could one day support human life.
This news event was covered nationally and internationally, however, local coverage in the KXAS collection makes a connection between this far away news event to something much closer to home. On December 2, KXAS reporters went to Fort Worth’s Noble Planetarium and talked with Assistant Director Linda Krause. Krause explained that the Mars Lander, much like the planetarium itself, led to many people’s interest in space. First opened in 1955 as a part of the Fort Worth Children’s Museum, the Noble Planetarium was the first public planetarium in the DFW region.
Unfortunately contact with the Lander was lost shortly after it touched down on Mars. As a follow up story, KXAS broadcast a short package featuring animations from NASA as well as short sound bites from NASA administrative officials and the White House. In contrast to the local coverage provided four days earlier, this package featured voice over and stand-up from a NBC Washington correspondent Steve Handelsman, and no specific local coverage was provided.