Two fire-related stories yielded two fire-related live shots on WGCL Tuesday night. On paper, it all kinda makes sense. On TV, it didn’t in the least. Tony McNary did a story about city of Atlanta budget cuts, and the loss of 88 firefighting jobs. McNary’s punishment: Drive to NW Atlanta, and stand in front of a fire scene that had taken place four days earlier, delivering a live tag to a package shot in its entirety downtown.
But it gets better. Joanna Massee’s fire story was about a family holding vigil at Grady for a badly-burned toddler. Massee interviewed three women outside Grady’s emergency room. Assuming this bit of enterprise reporting wasn’t copied from another station, it was a decent lick for Massee. Her punishment: Go to Lithonia, and deliver a live tag in front of the long-cold fire scene.
Live shots are supposed to lend immediacy to TV reporting. Sometimes the immediacy is genuine. In these cases, these scenes of cold fire lent an almost laughable lack of immediacy to otherwise worthy pieces of reporting. Would live shots at City Hall and Grady have been more compelling? Probably not. But at least they would have made sense.