Some cliches will never die. “If it bleeds, it leads” is one of them, a cute catch-phrase grasped by smirking detractors of TV news. Like many cliches, it’s an oversimplification. It’s a stereotype. It’s tiresome. But it also hints at a larger truth. TV chases breaking news. It doesn’t have to “bleed,” though. It can be stuff as mundane as a gas leak, a water-main break, a traffic tie-up. What’s more insidious is TV’s obsession with breaking “news” that is barely news at all. A “suspicious package” at a post office? A bomb threat at the Capitol? Get it on TV before the other station does.
Monday was significant for this reason: On WSB’s 6pm news, nothing bled in the A-block. There was no “breaking news,” real or imagined. Every story was worthy of the front page of the metro section of any respectable newspaper.
- An exclusive on a judge jailing a motorist for violating the HOV lane (see below).
- Coverage of a sheriff candidate’s last-minute qualification to get on the ballot.
- News about lousy test scores in public schools
- A cop arrested for DUI whose supervisor apparently requested special treatment for him.
- The Atlanta city council’s override of three mayoral vetoes.
There was some traditional death-and-destruction in some of the other stations’ newscasts– anchor v/o’s on a trench collapse, a smash & grab, a school bus accident. But WAGA led with an exclusive on some squirrelly unauthorized spending at city hall. WXIA led with the mayoral overrides.
No doubt, there were newsroom personnel complaining that Monday was a “slow” news day. But TV is at its best when the “breaking news” goes on hiatus, and its reasonably-well-paid news staffs develop newspaper-worthy stories.