Tenacious T

Those who find nothing but foolishness and despair in local TV news may find a bit of redemption now. When Randy Travis of WAGA’s I-Team is on his game, there’s nothing better. He’s at his best now. Travis is doing a two-night investigation of Atlanta sushi restaurants. While the topic may seem dangerously close to WGCL’s silly restaurant ratings franchise, Travis executes solidly. He’s not claiming that the restaurants are dangerous or dirty– but convincingly makes a case that five out of seven tested are just plain dishonest.

In his buildup, Travis hints that this is not an original idea– but rather, one lifted from another investigative unit elsewhere in the country. This is pretty common. TV stations trade / steal ideas all the time. Whatever the origin, it led Travis to send pieces of Red Snapper sushi to a lab for DNA testing. The results showed that reputable sushi restaurants were serving much-cheaper Talapia for menu items listed as Red Snapper.

Travis shows up at these restaurants with a camera afterward. In one case, he gets the classic hand-over-the-lens treatment from a caught-in-the-act restauranteur. But two others are much more fun to watch. In one instance, Travis asks the restaurant manager to show him the original box in which the “red snapper” was shipped. The apparently English-challenged manager produces a box with the word “talapia” on it. This results in a hilarious exchange:

Travis: See, this word here is “talapia.” (He carefully enunciates each syllable.)

Restauranteur: Talapia?

T: Talapia. You see?

R: Uh huh.

T: This is not snapper.

R: Not snapper?

T: No.

In the second instance, the deer-in-the-headlights look on the face of the confronted restaurant manager at Ru San’s is priceless.

Travis’s demeanor is that of a tenacious college professor rather than an attack-dog journalist. It gives this investigative piece an appropriate tone. Travis leaves open the possibility that some of these restaurants “overlooked” the truth about their sushi, while firmly making the case that this is highly unlikely.

And it doesn’t hurt that Travis is one of the best writers and storytellers in town. This is worthwhile viewing, produced by one of local TV’s best.

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Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

7 thoughts on “Tenacious T

  1. RonBurgundy

    Doug…you’ve GOT to be kidding.
    I watched this piece last night. Randy Travis is one of the best reporters in Atlanta, but this one was a waste of time. DNA tests on shushi????? It’s Talapia, not Snapper??? Oh, my. Call out the National Guard. This piece was drenched with “who cares?” What’s next? My four ply toilet paper is actually only TWO ply???
    Give me a break. Randy did a great job on the story, but I couldn’t help but think he felt embarrassed by “revealing” this horrible act of wrongdoing.

  2. Kit Baty

    I thought the piece was right on the money. I think this story needed to be uncovered. For many many people, fish isn’t as readily identifiable as cuts of beef. So, someone who is paying a premium for grouper and is instead getting catfish – I’d like to know about this and where it’s happening.

    We are all paying premiums at every restaurant we go to – this is more like “double-dipping” (the way banks do, not the Seinfeld variety).

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  4. LBJ

    Aside from the fraud angle, some of us avoid certain kinds of fish due to allergy or contamination concerns. It’s a BFD to me and my family.

  5. Pingback: Right story, wrong question « live apartment fire

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