A 52-year-old New Jersey man is responsible for much of the breaking news that winds up on the New York City area television stations and in the newspapers, according to a profile in the New York Times. His name is James Crockman and he mans the overnight shift for a news service called Breaking News Network, which sends bulletins and updates to the news outlets alerting them of newsworthy stories that are breaking.
Crockman started as a hobbyist who listened to police scanners for fun. He would send tips to the Breaking News Network for free, until BNN execs realized they had a natural on their hands and hired him six years ago to work the weekend overnight shifts—the sweet spot for crime in the New York area. Now Crockman works four long 14-hour shifts, somehow managing to fit in a life and some sleep when he’s not working—though he’s not married, so how much of a life he has is debatable. Clearly, Crockman finds most of his life in his job.
He has a gift for being able to hear 20 scanners squeaking and chattering at the same time and be able to discern where the real stories are occurring. And because of his intimate knowledge of the voices of the police and fire captains and their neighborhoods, he can usually tell where the action is going down without having to waste time consulting lists and directories.
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“He can sit there listening to 20 sources of sound, and he can discern from all that noise the newsworthy items,” one of his bosses, Rob Gessman, told the Times. “Not everything you hear on the scanner makes the news, but James has a good nose for what will.”