A Glimpse at the Edge

With one-third of its programming day– eight hours out of 24– devoted to original local news content, WAGA made a remarkable decision last year: Do more. So it added a half-hour at 11pm, and decided to call it “Fox 5 News Edge.” It competes against the 11pm broadcasts of the other three Atlanta stations. It also competes against its own 10pm news, and not always favorably.

Consider Wednesday. WAGA’s desk sent Julia Harding to cover an incident billed as a home invasion in Marietta. When Harding got on scene, she learned that police didn’t know if a) anything had been taken or b) anyone had been hurt. There were no victims around; only a neighbor who spoke on-camera about how distressing it was to have– whatever it was– happen in her neighborhood. In all likelihood, Harding told her betters that it wasn’t much of a story. In all likelihood, Harding was told to make it a lead.

As a result, Fox 5 News Edge led Wednesday’s newscast with the thinnest of gruel. The Edge looked more like a precipice.

WAGA certainly employs some predictable tricks to give this show an edgy taste that one might compare to a “woo-hoo!” shot of Jager in a crowded college bar. There’s a whoosh sound effect that’s employed liberally between anchor copy and sound bites. There seems to be a dizzying emphasis on crime and disaster stories. And there’s the syrupy flavor of some snappy-sounding yet cliche-laden writing, led Wednesday by an anchor package on Scott McClellan’s book that’s “sending shock waves through Washington” and has “Democrats… foaming at the mouth.” The Edge has the loopy, lowered inhibitions of a tabloid newscast.

And then there’s Tom Haynes, the broadcast’s anchor. Haynes stays on his feet through the half-hour, tossing to live shots, erupting in a “boy, look at that!” when he sees some tornado damage, adding a solemn “terrifying stuff” after a victim describes her experience. Haynes may be Atlanta’s slickest male anchor, with made-to-order telegeneity and quickness. He may also be the most heavily powdered, the hue of which sometimes seems to too-closely match the faux wood veneer of the news set behind him.

The same night, WAGA’s 10pm news led with a somewhat-compelling a-block story on a police crackdown in a crime-ridden neighborhood. The a-block rounded out with stories on a sheriff’s candidate forum; and a piece of surveillance tape that may show the image of a still-at-large killer. If there was an internal tug-of-war between the producers of WAGA’s 10 and the 11 o’clock shows for the best material, the Edge lost on this particular night.

Best moment: Sports guy Ken Rodriguez’s tease about the Braves loss. “Sports on the edge is really cranky tonight!” he growled, employing no sound effects.

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About live apt fire

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.

9 thoughts on “A Glimpse at the Edge

  1. rptrcub

    I think the “predictable tricks” are right in line with WAGA’s parent company, as it’s a Fox O&O. Gotta have flashy graphics, whooshes and vapid reports to make it fit with the parent company and the Fox News Channel.

    Reply
  2. Amani Channel

    I wasn’t surprised to see WAGA get the Foxified look or add the News Edge. I believe my former employer WTVT in Tampa was one of the first Fox O&Os to start the edge. It’s the same old news with a flashy look.

    Reply
  3. JasonC

    I haven’t watched it too often, but based on my limited viewing, it’s everything that I can’t stand about news. It’s like localized Headline News with all the smarminess of Hardball, Glenn Beck, O’Reilly, etc.
    I don’t know Tom Haynes and he could be a great guy, but every time I see the tease for the Edge during the 10pm news, I am sure I don’t want to watch. He and the teases make my skin crawl. To his credit, I think he is doing exactly what the producers, management and consultants want him to do.

    Reply
  4. Edward

    It saddens me to think that this is what, most likely, will be copied by all the other newscasts in town (and elsewhere if this is a Fox affiliate practice). As if our local news wasn’t already “Entertainment Tonight”-ified enough.

    Reply
  5. Newsguy

    Mark my words: News Edge (which is appearing on Fox stations all over the country) is laying the groundwork for a Shep Smith anchored national evening news broadcast on FOX. Get used to the swooshes and vapid stories – it’s coming…

    Reply
  6. Richard Calhoun

    Hey Doug:
    Why don’t you take a swing at “objective” station managers like the guy that sent you and the news chopper out a while back to do a story on the helicopter menacing an east Cobb neighborhood.

    Very clever of your former boss to wait until after the interview to disclose that he had a bit of skin in the game himself.

    Lord knows what some of those veracity- challenged citizens over there told him in order to get him involved.
    (I haven’t heard much out of them since I got a libel judgment against one of them last year, though).

    Reply
  7. live apt fire Post author

    Hey Richard-

    In the story to which you refer, the GM never claimed to be objective. When he submitted the story idea, he told the news staff he was a resident of a neighborhood that was upset about a noisy helicopter based nearby. Turned out the GM had plenty of company. We talked to several of his neighbors as part of the story.

    The GM simply brought the story idea to the table– as anybody might do at a TV station– then walked away. Plenty of other media picked up that story. The story was legit. The GM had zero involvement in it after submitting the idea to the newsroom.

    This sort of thing happens all the time. Somebody who feels aggrieved by what they consider wrongdoing gripes about it to the media. The only difference here was this guy was the GM of a TV station. There was no funny business in WAGA’s coverage of this story, or the GM’s initial involvement.

    Thanks for visiting the site. Please weigh in anytime.

    Reply
  8. Richard Calhoun

    Now Doug…

    Come on. Tv news stations don’t scramble one of those thousand dollar an hour copters in the middle of the day to do a story about another helicopter landing in the middle of 12 acres in the burbs! (that was a bit much…. hovering a helo over a neighborhood in connection with a story about people complaining about a helicopter!?)

    While I do appreciate your candor in revealing that your station manager didn’t pretend to be unbiased, I’m not yet convinced that the source of the tip didn’t have just a wee bit of influence on the “enthusiasm” with which the story was pursued.
    I don’t doubt for a minute that you heard complaints from your manager’s neighbors. They complain about everything under the sun over there. But nobody ever talked to my other neighbors to the south, east, or west, who had no complaints at all.

    Nope, it wasn’t the noise, ( or “safety”) and never was. That subdivision’s been as noisy as a factory since the day it was built. The only thing wrong with the helicopter was that I had one, and they didn’t.
    They even managed to shut down another helo that was landing half a mile away in another subdivision, not bothering anybody, and then they crowed about that too in one of their HOA nesletters.
    What a blessing to have such fine neighbors…..

    You know, if the media would ever jump on one of these crazy HOAs and call them out for some of the ridiculous busybodying they routinely do, there would be a standing ovation from the substantial majority of property owners who prefer to mind their own business instead of everybody else’s.

    See you later.

    Reply

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