Media critic

Skim today’s coverage of the shooting rampage in Aurora, Colo., and you’ll find a lot of big news operations scrambling to piece together a story. Not a lot of outlets field full-time reporting teams in Denver, which is just west of Aurora, so gathering an account of the mayhem becomes an exercise in aggregation.

One of the common aggretatees is the Denver TV station KUSA-TV, which is branded as 9News and is an affiliate of both NBC and CNN — go figure. Among the big-time news players that are peddling information from 9News are The Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. There are undoubtedly many others.

Why such reliance on this station? Because its people roared out of the gate on the middle-of-the-night tragedy. According to Patti Dennis, 9News’s vice president/news director, here’s the tick-tock:

12:40 a.m. local time (2:40 a.m. Eastern time): 9News overnight crew hears chatter on the station’s scanner about the incident.

1:05 a.m.: Dennis, having gone to sleep at 11 p.m., gets a call from a colleague. She gets out of bed and tells her husband, “I think we have another Columbine.”

1:20 a.m.:9News reporter Brandon Rittiman is on the scene at the Aurora mall adjacent to the movie theater and is sending texts back to the station. “Definitely the first live reporter from the scene,” says Dennis.

1:40 a.m.: The station has confirmed the basic story line and puts a crawler on the lower third of the screen as it airs NBC’s late-night programming.

2:24 a.m.: Having assembled what Dennis calls a “boost crew,” the station goes on air with special coverage of the shootings, and it hasn’t stopped since.

3:18 a.m.: 9News covers a news conference of the Aurora police department via iPhone audio feed. As Dennis explains it, the station had a camera crew on one side of the mall, covering all the activity outside of the crime scene. Meanwhile, one of its investigative reporters went to cover the news conference but didn’t have a crew, so he fed the audio back to the station through his phone. 9News beamed out the video of the crime scene and the audio of the news conference at the same time.

Undetermined: Dennis goes back to bed.