For one day at least, it seemed the whole world had found Waco on its map.
In the aftermath of the Sunday gun battle at Mount Carmel that killed four Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents and two followers of Branch Davidian leader Vernon Howell, news organizations, film producers and news tabloids from around the world manned their phones for more information.
Tribune-Herald staff members were swamped Monday morning with requests for background information, interviews with lead reporters and editors, and inquiries into purchasing story and photo rights.
Newsroom receptionist Kathey Wigfall arrived before 8 a.m. to find the phones already active. Within hours, she fielded approximately 50 calls from places as far-flung as Singapore, New Zealand, France, Canada and, closer to home, Los Angeles and New York City, she said.
Tribune-Herald staff members also fielded calls from several irate readers who claimed a multipart investigative series on Vernon Howell had sparked the violence that broke out Sunday or who were angry at the attention paid to Howell.
National morning talk shows “The Today Show,” and “Good Morning America” called to try to set up interviews, as did “The MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour,” CNN, “The Larry King Show,” “Dateline NBC” and news tabloids “A Current Affair” and “Inside Edition.”
Print publications asking for background included Texas Monthly, People, Toronto Globe and Mail and the Singapore Times, Newsday, Sun, the London Sun-Mirror and the Washington Post.
Among the broadcast media phoning for information on the story were National Public Radio, the Canadian Broadcasting Company, the British Broadcasting Corporation, Germany’s “Spiegel TV” and 7 Network Australia.
Newsroom librarian Colleen Curran spent much of Monday handling fax requests for news organizations wanting copies of the Tribune-Herald’s investigative series.
Even the office of Vice President Al Gore called, Curran said, asking for a copy of the Tribune-Herald’s editorial in Saturday’s edition. The Australian consulate in Houston requested information, too. Some of the residents of the Branch Davidian complex in Mount Carmel are Australian nationals.
City editor Brian Blansett fielded numerous interview requests from radio talk shows.