Daily Archives: April 6, 2008

History Lost

As part of the station’s coverage of the 40th anniversary of the murder of Martin Luther King Jr., WAGA’s Chris Shaw interviewed Dan Keever, a longtime WAGA newsman turned journalism prof at UGA. During the piece, Keever described shooting film footage of retired Morehouse College president Benjamin Mays singlehandedly stopping a riot in the hours after King’s murder.

But we never saw the footage in the piece. No doubt, Shaw inquired about it. Shaw would have been told, simply, “it’s gone.” And nobody at WAGA can explain what happened to a gazillion feet of news footage shot in the film era. Speculation is that it was simply discarded one day. Its disappearance from the station is a true mystery and an unfortunate loss.

Thankfully, WSB-TV not only preserved its film archive– the station also turned it over to the University of Georgia. UGA makes the footage generally available for news and historical use– even to WSB’s competitors. Ironically, WAGA has used the WSB film stock via UGA on numerous occasions. We don’t know if WSB’s film guys were with Keever when Mays calmed the riot in April 1968. But if so– and if Shaw had made an advance request for the footage from UGA– WAGA would have had to rely on WSB’s archive to illustrate that bit of WAGA history.  And an on-air graphic would have credited “University of Georgia Archive,” and not WSB.