In the TV news biz, the words “beloved” and “manager” rarely appear adjacent to each other. The exception is Bud Veazey, the WAGA assistant news director who is retiring today. Veazey was the old-school journalistic guidestone, against which the stiff winds of audience pandering often blew. At his best, he could cool the scalding-hot sensibilities of his frenzied fellow managers. He lost many arguments, but was rarely wrong. It’s a wonder he lasted as long as he did, some twenty years at WAGA.
Once, I failed to double-check a fact and got it wrong on-air. In his office, Veazey quietly dressed me down for a “rookie mistake.” It was the calmest and yet the worst ass-chewing I’d ever gotten, because it came from a guy who had earned, rather than demanded, my respect.
Veazey’s memos were always the best. It’s amazing how many news pros are confounded by the English language. Veazey wrote the “please stop using ‘literally,’ especially when you don’t mean it” memo. Veazey despised “at this hour,” a phrase I reluctantly eliminated (I thought it sounded Murrowesque and gave a fuzzy-headed local news guy gravitas) after reading his memo. To the end, reporters ignored his repeated railings against “for now,” as in “for now, I’m Jane Jones in Butts County…” Watch TV and see how many reporters say “for now,” and know that an old retired news manager is cringing.
The folks behind the scenes– as well as the folks who tune into local news each night– deserve a lot of blame for the dumbing-down of TV news. Bud Veazey’s career represented a Quixotic quest to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. WAGA was fortunate to have him.
WAGA’s Dale Russell’s blog about Veazey is worthwhile reading.