NBC reporter David Bloom dies in Iraq of apparent blood clot

Weekend Today host, 39, made name as go-to guy

War in Iraq

April 07, 2003|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,SUN TELEVISION CRITIC

David Bloom, a 39-year-old NBC News correspondent whose boyish enthusiasm and energetic style of presentation made him a rising star in network news, died yesterday in Iraq while covering the war.

Mr. Bloom, whose war coverage was showcased on NBC and cable channel MSNBC, died of an apparent blood clot in his lungs early yesterday morning, according to NBC. He was in camp outside of Baghdad with the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry, the division with which he was an embedded reporter, and was airlifted to a field hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

He had no known health problems, said NBC. He is survived by his wife, Melanie, and three daughters - Ava, 3, and 9-year-old twins Nicole and Christine.

"In times like these, a journalist's contribution to his country is measured in terms of illustrious commitment and sacrifice. ... There was no one more devoted to his calling than David Bloom," Bob Wright, NBC's chairman and chief executive officer, said yesterday.

"He was an extraordinary man," said NBC News President Neal Shapiro. "Over the past few weeks, we marveled as he demonstrated a tireless devotion to this story."

Mr. Bloom did seem to be constantly on screen for NBC and MSNBC, especially during the first week of the Iraqi war, as he raced through the desert in a modified armored vehicle. NBC anchors regularly referred to him as being at the "tip of the spear" while accompanying U.S. military forces making their way to Baghdad. Indeed, the Army's 3rd Infantry was the first into Baghdad on Saturday.

Mr. Bloom's high visibility during the war was partially the result of new video technology that he helped design. It included a camera specifically designed to produce jiggle-free video while mounted on the armored vehicle in which the reporter rode. The camera sent its pictures by microwave to a converted Ford F-450 truck traveling farther back in the convoy. The truck, in turn, transmitted the pictures to a satellite, which sent them to NBC.

The unit, dubbed the "Bloom-mobile" by NBC, was highly publicized by the network. In truth, it did not score any great news coups for NBC and MSNBC, but it did lend a sense of immediacy to Mr. Bloom's reports.

Not that he needed much help from technology for that. From the time the Minnesota native joined WTVJ-TV, the NBC-owned station in Miami, Mr. Bloom made a name for himself as a reporter who thrived on big stories. In Miami, he covered hurricanes Andrew and Emily as well as American military intervention in Haiti.

"If there was a hurricane, a flood, a coup in Haiti, wherever there was something breaking, he wanted to be there," said Tim Russert, an NBC colleague.

Mr. Bloom shared a George Foster Peabody Award in 1992 for his work at WTVJ and was hired by NBC News a year later. In 1995, he became a Los Angeles correspondent for the network, covering such stories as the O.J. Simpson trials.

Mr. Bloom's rise was swift, if not downright meteoric. He appeared frequently on MSNBC, the cable channel started by Microsoft and NBC in 1996. He became a White House correspondent for NBC in 1997. Three years later, he added weekend anchor duties for the Today show.

But even with that workload, he continued to be the correspondent regularly called upon to cover important stories that had the potential to be told live, such as the Washington-area sniper saga and the war in Iraq.

In the 1990s, technology transformed television news into a world of real-time reports, quickening news cycles and proliferating 24-hour cable channels. Mr. Bloom's breathless style and ability to communicate stories as they unfolded made him a perfect fit for the emerging television landscape. But it is a demanding place.

"David Bloom was as gentle a man and as brave a reporter as I ever knew," said Bob Schieffer, a veteran CBS correspondent. "He died from a blood clot in his lungs after pushing himself to the limit and past it, traveling with American troops as they made their way to Baghdad."

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