Grading WXIA Wednesday

Valerie Hoff, WXIA

No fraud, no frizz: Valerie Hoff, WXIA

If WXIA news director Ellen Crooke critiqued its 6 and 7pm newscasts Wednesday, it may have read like this:

Denis O’Hayer led the 6 with a piece from the Capitol about early voting.  O’Hayer’s task was to ask about extending early voting hours.  He got a lot of rhetorical finger-pointing.  The story was smart and well-told.  Grade:  A-

Catherine Kim’s piece from the Fulton Co. jail was the show’s most memorable.  She chronicled the brutal beating of an inmate who testified against / “snitched” on Brian Nichols the previous day.  WSB had crude photocopied pictures of the beaten inmate, which Kim’s story lacked.  Kim also should have used interior file video of the jail, but didn’t.  Grade:  B-

Paul Crawley produced a live vo/sot on the Nichols trial.  We aren’t fans of the live vo/sot.  Pre-taped packages are much more effective, and don’t take much longer to produce or to show on TV.  Knock that stuff off, please, Ms. Crooke.  Grade:  C+ for Crawley, D- for the producer who demanded a live vo/sot.

Bill Liss’s live v/o on the Delta / Northwest merger should have played higher in the show.  Liss also had time to produce a file tape package.  At least he wasn’t live at the airport interviewing passengers, as the other stations were wont to do.  Talk about a cliche…  Grade:  C+

Ted Hall read a tease that said:  “So many job seekers, so little openings.”  Did he really say that?  Yes.  Some writer punk’d Hall.  C’mon guys, there are children watching.  Grade:  F

Bill Liss returned with a piece on a job fair at the airport.  The good news was that Liss produced a package.  The bad news is that it was hideous.  The shooting and editing were amateurish, leading us to believe that Liss may have been forced to shoot and edit this himself.  Say it ain’t so.  Grade:  D+

Fred Kalil‘s sportscast was short, with vo/sots on the Hawks and Falcons.  Done.  Grade:  C+

At 7pm, Denis O’Hayer returned with another edition of his 6pm story.  Rather than producing a package or a live vo/sot, O’Hayer gave the audience four soundbites, back-to-back, lightly covered with b-roll.  He gave it context with the intro, and the four bites essentially told the story.  Understated and well done, but the lead story needs more meat.  Grade:  B+

Jon Shirek produced a piece narrated entirely via a colorful interview Shirek conducted (and apparently shot himself) with a Gwinnett pollworker.  The piece was shot OK enough, but was (for the most part) nicely edited.  Our favorite bit:  The nat sound of a baby crying while his Mom waited in line.  Grade:  A-

Paul Crawley delivered a lean, lucid piece on the testimony at the Nichols trial.  Too bad he wasn’t allowed to do the same at 6.  We’re glad to see Crawley back out in the daylight.  Grade:  B+

Brenda Wood spent almost four minutes interviewing Elizabeth Olimani about the upcoming Hosea Feed the Hungry event.  It wasn’t great TV, but we’d rather see this than a newscast clogged with bogus breaking news.  Grade:  B

Valerie Hoff is now apparently WXIA’s coupon reporter.  Wednesday, she did a piece about internet coupons and the potential for fraud.  We learned something, which is never a bad thing.  We liked the prominent can of hair spray on Hoff’s desk during her standup close.  Grade:  B-

Overall: We’re accustomed to seeing WXIA showing off its better-than-average photography and storytelling.   Tonight, both were oddly missing.  Yet the pieces at 7 by Shirek and O’Hayer showed some innovative touches you don’t often see.  The live vo/sot, however, ain’t innovative.  It’s lousy TV.  Grade:   B-

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Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form, zero, zilch, nada. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

7 thoughts on “Grading WXIA Wednesday

  1. Justin

    I enjoy your story-by-story critiques of newscasts. I pasively watched local TV news in Atlanta for over 20 years but with inspiration and knowledge from this blog, I try to look at newscasts with more of a critic’s eye. It keeps me interested and amused with what’s on the screen, even when I shouldn’t be.

    As for my critique…one big oops I caught last Saturday night was when Valerie Hoff described the latest poll results from Insider Advantage. The actual poll showed Obama up by a point in Georgia (I know because I read about it online earlier), but WXIA’s graphic and Hoff’s narration was wrong and indicated McCain was up by one point. The race in Georgia is much closer than almost everyone thought it would be, and polls are polls, but WXIA blew their chance to report this kind of big story. Grade: F

    Reply
  2. atlbigear

    That is a fair assessment by both LAF and Justin. Although, LAF, I think you are going a little too easy on us!

    Reply
  3. scott hedeen

    I think Valerie Hoff’s new coupon cutter franchise is one of the better things lately on XIA. Shot and edited well… there’s actually some things that can be learned from it as well. From a place with alot of “connect the dots” style franchises…seems the new ND has upped the stakes in the shop. No grade yet… i’m just happy to see some action out of my old school.

    Reply
  4. scott hedeen

    PS… nice to see paul crawley in the light of day… he’s an atlanta tv news top shelf-er. His contacts and knowledge of the city is unmatched.

    Reply
  5. atlbigear

    Scott, little Gary “Junior” Stilwell is one of the major photographic forces behind Val’s segment.

    You should expect to see some more really good things like this come out of the 11Alive kitchen soon. Oh, and don’t miss the 11Alive Decision 2008 coverage on WATL. It will be a sight to see!

    Reply

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