When a phone rings in a TV newsroom, there’s a pretty fair chance it’s a tenant calling to pitch an expose on his landlord. These calls are so common that news personnel keep their guards up about stories describing “nasty” conditions at apartment complexes. Such stories rarely appear on TV as a result.
Thankfully, the situation at Maple Creek apartments made it through the filter. WSB (and the other stations) probably got calls about this place for months. When Amanda Rosseter visited the site Wednesday, she found a complex that had been essentially abandoned by its owners and turned into a trash dump. Except, Rosseter found, some forty people “including babies” still lived there. A WSB photog captured images of a looter driving off with “hot water heaters.” And Rosseter watched an Atlanta code enforcement officer turn tail and drive off when she tried to ask questions.
Used to be, TV cared about stuff like poverty and society’s inequities. Nowadays, when TV does stories about homelessness, the stories tend to focus on the nuisance factor and not the condition itself. Judging from the video, the Maple Creek story has been ongoing for months. Had the phone calls come from a suburb (where, say, the managers of the newsoom live), the story might have gotten legs quicker. But Maple Creek is in a fierce section of NW Atlanta. It was easy for TV to find something else to do instead.
Of greater interest, perhaps, to WSB’s audience was the story Jeff Dore produced about Atlanta Fire Station 27. Located in ritzy Buckhead, Dore ably described a building that had become “a slum”– broken showers, decaying wood, daylight visible through the roof, and “an exposed air duct (that) is a rat raceway every night over (the firefighters’) heads.” His video was eye-opening, and Dore’s storytelling is always a treat.
Dore’s conclusion: The community will raise money to fix up the fire station. There was no such ending for the Maple Creek story.