Daily Archives: April 22, 2008

Eleven Lifeless

Every time we set out to write a post about WXIA’s news, we always seem to find something more interesting on another station. The other stations certainly offer more comic fodder. The other stations more readily travel down the familiar roads that make local TV news so targetable. But the other stations (even WGCL) are more interesting too. WXIA a/k/a 11 Alive is dull, night in and night out.

WXIA breaks few stories and has few worthwhile exclusives. WXIA has virtually no investigative presence. Instead, WXIA covers meetings, news conferences, crime scenes and court trials quite well. Its enterprise stories are often poignant and worthwhile, but rarely groundbreaking. The other TV stations don’t chase WXIA’s stories. The other stations probably barely watch WXIA’s news.

The A-block of WXIA’s 7pm news Monday went like this:

  • Denis O’Hayer, covering the DOT board meeting and Gena Abraham news conference
  • Jon Shirek, covering a Shirley Franklin newser on Atlanta’s fiscal woes
  • Jennifer Leslie, previewing Lithonia’s city council meeting
  • Jaye Watson, interviewing Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory about the Pope.

Later in the broadcast, Jerry Carnes produced a one-man-band piece on how gas prices are hurting charities. Earthwatch reporter Marc Pickard had a nice-looking piece on a guy who rides his bike to work.

WXIA’s reporters are smart. Some are very gifted storytellers. WXIA’s photography is probably the best in town. Brenda Wood is Atlanta’s most appealing news anchor. WXIA does the back of the book quite well. Its backpack journalists, like Carnes, are often allowed to stretch out and explore the human condition. Pickard has a whimsical style and a worthwhile but too-easy niche.

“Too easy” also describes WXIA’s problem. The station doesn’t devote resources to breaking exclusive stories, or producing investigative pieces. Its newscasts look great. But every night, its competitors are doing something more interesting.

Only time will tell

Our slog through some recent WXIA newscasts yielded one remarkable piece by Valerie Hoff, who produced a story Friday about revenue shortfalls in local governments. The piece stood out for its head-spinning use of cliches. In a standup, Hoff managed to utter three of them in just two sentences: “Woodstock is far from the only city feeling the pinch. Cities across metro Atlanta are crunching the numbers and tightening the belt.”  Wow.

For good measure, she added two more as the story concluded: “The solutions (are) hard to swallow,” spectacularly capped with “from some points of view, the glass is still half-full.”