What world does WXIA occupy, exactly? Is it the same one as the rest of us? A look at its news begs that question night after night. It promotes itself as telling “the stories that matter,” if we’re not mistaken. Translated: If it comes from a crime scene or from something scheduled, like a meeting, we’re on it. Time to rag on WXIA’s 7pm news Tuesday:
- Meeting: Angry laid off workers at city hall, sounding off at the city council. Keith Whitney reports they are “hurt, some of them emotionally, some of them quite literally.”
- News Conference: Gov. Perdue talks about the gun bill he hasn’t signed yet. Give Denis O’Hayer a bit of credit for fleshing this story out and making it into something decent. It’s the best piece in the show.
- Meeting: Jennifer Leslie covers the DNR board, talking about the drought.
- Crime Scene: Kevin Rowson at the scene of a non-fatal shooting at a DeKalb Health center.
Even Marc Pickard’s Earthwatch story featured a high school class that scheduled a meeting at a creek to clean up and plant stuff. “First, they will save Allen Park. Then, they will save the world!” he concludes. We like Pickard’s wry touch. It adds a buttery coat to an all-things-green franchise that still tastes like brussel sprouts.
Meantime, in the real world: WSB’s A-block has an exclusive about alleged steroid abuse at Henry Co. PD. WAGA has an exclusive piece on “the ZZ Top Bandit,” who looks as you might expect and is super-aggressively robbing banks in west Georgia. Both stations have killer investigative stories by Jim Strickland (at WSB) and Dana Fowle (at WAGA). Even WAGA’s head-scratching lead, about wedding rings missing from a corpse, still shows more enterprise in two minutes than WXIA can muster all day.
The weird thing is this: WXIA presents fewer minutes of news each evening than any other station. Its staff, all smart folk, can barely wedge its way into its two half-hour shows (compared with two hours each for WAGA and WSB). WXIA has the resources to come up with cool, one-of-a-kind stories every night. So, why doesn’t it?