Fifteen to twenty people are abducted, tied up, robbed and abandoned in a vacant house. The robbers gain control of the victims by claiming to be federal agents. Sounds like news, no?
If the victims are Hispanic, the answer is “yes, but….” No denying that it’s news. The question is whether it’ll get on TV or in the newspaper.
Local TV news craves the “get.” Get the victim. Get the next-of-kin. Get them to talk on camera about how horrified / sorrowful they are. News managers all but carry a scorecard, recording which station has the better “get.” (The pursuit of the “get” is also one of the many factors that drive audiences away from local TV news.)
But when the victims are Hispanic, the “get” is less likely. There’s the language barrier. There’s the distrust of English-speaking TV, and whether its presence is a precursor to a raid by immigration agents.
So give WGCL credit for pursuing the above story Friday night. Sarah Parker gave the story as much life as she could. Since it happened in Doraville, it benefited from the on-camera presence of John King, arguably metro Atlanta’s most engaging police chief. And it benefited from Parker’s knowledge of Spanish. She translated the remarks of a Spanish-speaking woman who admitted on-camera that Hispanics are less inclined to seek law enforcement help when they’re victims of crime.
Parker’s story also proved why TV doesn’t rush to embrace such stories. The 15 to 20 victims were nowhere to be found.
Monday night, WAGA’s George Franco somewhat successfully told another story that benefited from Franco’s Spanish-speaking skills. Franco’s story raised questions about the killing of a day laborer by a DeKalb sheriff’s deputy. (The story mimicked a similar story by WSB’s Tom Jones Friday.) But unlike Jones, Franco’s story leaned on Spanish speaking folk to tell it, with Franco skillfully translating on the fly.
Both stories—Parker’s and Franco’s—were worthwhile pursuits. There are many more that we never hear about.