During its 5pm news Monday, WAGA ran no fewer than four teases showing the “controversial” bare-backed photo of 15-year old Miley Cyrus. The kid pop star herself had denounced the photo, shot in a session with Annie Liebowitz. Each time WAGA teased its coverage, it showed the photo. The story itself ran fifty minutes into its newscast.
The teases felt icky to watch. Surely it felt just as icky to write and produce them. Surely.
Back in the day, legendary Georgia defense attorney Bobby Lee Cook used to cross examine GBI special agents by asking them about their title: What’s the difference between an agent and a “special” agent? The dumbfounded witnesses would typically answer: None. Cook would conclude by saying: So, there’s really nothing “special” about you, is there?
Cook might ask the same question about some of the “special” reports that air on local TV during the May sweeps. Today we’ll pick on WGCL.
Monday, Wendy Salzman delivered a story called “Who’s googling you?” Salzman’s story is well produced and interesting enough. And it’s nicely shot and edited. This is important, given that the subject matter is computers and the internet– not exactly killer visual material. But the story isn’t particularly in-depth. And it’s deceptively introduced by anchor Bill Gaines, who tells the audience Salzman will reveal “how to track who’s searching for you.”
Salzman reports that there are a couple of sites in cyberspace (a painfully overused word with too few synonyms, unfortunately) that will tell you how often certain phrases are googled. The sites will even e-mail you immediately, revealing the geographic location and search engine used. But then, Salzman delivers a key fact: The sites won’t tell you “who’s googling you,” leaving the central question in the story unanswered. The fact that the story runs only 1:37 is further evidence of its lack of “special” heft.
Nothing wrong with Salzman’s reporting. But WGCL couldn’t manage to honestly promote and introduce it. Typically, TV stations that value honesty will promote such stuff as an open-ended question eg. “Can you tell who’s googling you?” But WGCL’s undelivered promise misled the audience. Maybe that’s what makes this report “special.”
With “special” thanks to Paul Crawley, who told that story about Bobby Lee Cook in the media room every time a GBI agent testified at a trial.
Three of ’em turned up in Monday’s 6pm piece produced by WSB’s Tom Jones. Jones reported that Clayton Co. “corrective superintendent” John Thompson is
- “fired up” about his new job;
- that Thompson “hit the ground running”;
- and proclaimed that it’s time for the community to “stop pointing the finger.”
For good measure, WAGA’s Chris Shaw threw in one during his coverage of the same story at 5pm, saying Thompson
- “knows he has a long road ahead of him.”