When the wife woke me at the end of the Oscars broadcast, we got a taste of WSB’s weekend news, airing at 12:30 or so. This resulted in a lead story by an attractive rookie reporter about a family in Gwinnett which is losing its goat herd to repeated dog attacks. The report was done well enough (except for an ignorant slap at the Gwinnett Sheriff, whose office has no jurisdiction over animal attacks– a rookie mistake). But the report highlights the brutality of the news biz, particularly at WSB.
Doubtless, this young reporter (whose name escapes me — Ashley Hayes, maybe?– and whose report doesn’t appear on WSB’s web site for some reason) got into the news business for all the right reasons. Doubtless she figured she’d hit the big time when she’d gotten hired in a top-ten market. And sure, part of the deal is: you pay your dues by covering animal attacks on Sunday nights. But this woman delivered her report live in front of the Gwinnett Police Dept. Headquarters in Lawrenceville–some 25 miles from the station– at 12:30 am. She hadn’t even interviewed anybody at Gwinnett PD. She was there because a news manager, looking over his shoulder at the February book and a squirrelly VP in charge of news, didn’t have the guts to do the humane thing and tell her to “bring it back” to the station, produce the piece, then chill out at home with the cell phone in the event of breaking news.
Channels two and eleven are rife with this sort of behavior. View their newscasts at 6:30 (WSB) or 7pm (WXIA). Watch their reporters delivering legit stories in front of stale scenes or buildings ten or eleven hours after their workdays begin. And see how the glory of the TV news biz, and the prestige of a top ten market, drain away every so slowly from their souls. So many good young reporters have fled the business because of this kind of foolishness. The youngster at WSB will get a bellyful before long, if she hasn’t already.