Live Apartment Fire is managed and written by WXIA reporter Doug Richards, a 30-plus year veteran of the TV news biz, 25 of it in Atlanta.
“Live Apartment Fire” refers to the brightest, most incendiary cliche in Atlanta TV news. When an apartment building catches fire– especially close to news time– it doesn’t matter what good work a reporter has developed during the day. Nor does it matter if nobody is injured by the fire. The apartment fire will get top priority, especially if the flames can be broadcast live during a newscast.
At its best, the news business is a remarkable institution, a pillar of our free society. Sadly, the folks who manage it have to chase an audience and ultimately, sell advertising. When the news business panders to an audience, and loses sight of its status as a beacon of enlightenment, then it starts covering Live Apartment Fires, and treating each of them as Armageddon. (Same thing with snowflakes).
Once, at the end of a TV news workday, my teenage son asked me: So, dad– cover any apartment fires today?
The writer left the news biz voluntarily, with no bitterness or animosity, in July 2007, and began writing this blog in March 2008. The writer retained affection and reverence for the good work that TV news can do, and horror at how often that opportunity is squandered. The blog began as a constructive critique, often stating publicly sentiments that are routinely expressed behind-the-scenes within the news biz.
After the writer began work at WXIA in 2009, the blog stepped away from critiquing Atlanta news and evolved into a more introspective backstage look at the news media.
The writer promises to stop referring to himself in the third person, starting now.
- “Content without context is pretext.” – Jesse Jackson