Daily Archives: March 25, 2008

Barbie Bandits

Everybody covered the sentencing of the “barbie bandits” yesterday. All four stations have the stories on their web sites. The story sells. Every station had the same video– mug shots, courtroom, file tape. The difference was in the style of the storytellers.

The best was Ross Cavitt on WSB. Cavitt grasped what made the story different and ran with it: The fact that the suspects were former “exotic dancers,” as he put it. The fact that it was an inside job. The fact that various co-defendants ratted each other out. He laid it out efficiently and with just enough snark in his delivery to signal the audience that he was letting them in on a story that was ridiculous from beginning to end.

On WGCL, Rebekka Schramm was almost as good as Cavitt. She had the same tone as Cavitt and covered the same highlights. She overreached a bit, though, by opening her package with an awkward line about the defendants “looking more like Barbie dolls.” A subtler touch would have been better. But Schramm and Cavitt both had the right idea: Show the viewers why this garden-variety bank robbery sentencing was worth your time, and theirs.

WXIA’s Jennifer Leslie and WAGA’s Darryl Carver had solid facts and pictures, but both told the story without much style. At 10pm, Carver never mentioned that the defendants were former strippers. Maybe the fact seemed sensational. But hey– that’s the whole reason TV covered this story to begin with. Might as well have fun with it.

Chasing the AJC

Give the AJC credit for a nice scoop Sunday. After Gary Hilton pleaded guilty to the murder of hiker Meredith Emerson, it was inevitable that the court records of the case would become public. Most news organizations would have kept abreast of that release on a daily basis. But the AJC somehow got it first, and put it on the front of its Metro section Sunday. TV had to wait until Monday to chase the story– which included details of Hilton’s confession, and the extent to which the victim fought her killer before finally succumbing.