WXIA’s Kevin Rowson is an uncommonly sensible local TV reporter. He’s level-headed, even-handed and can smell baloney from a mile away. When the whiff emanates from his own newsroom, and that of his Atlanta competitors, he recognizes it instantly.
Recently, WXIA sent Rowson to a Cobb County home where firefighters, police and animal control officers had gathered with unusual gusto. TV news producers often salivate at such stuff, more so if weapons are drawn or if animals have been abused. (TV producers love animals and humans as much as anybody. But if it’s going down, they want it on their station first.)
Rowson arrived to find an unusual situation: A man living in filth, apparently unable to care for himself nor the five cats whose carcasses had been removed by animal control. From Rowson’s blog:
What they found inside was horrifying and disgusting… There were feces and fleas all over the home and they removed five dead cats. They also found the homeowner lying on a couch, in obvious need of medical attention. He was taken to Kennestone Hospital for treatment. The next day, he was released from the hospital and returned to the same disgusting home.
Police filed no charges. Rowson and his supervisors at WXIA made the right decision and killed the story. A few folks commenting on Rowson’s blog disagreed. But most agreed.
Rowson told readers that a state agency called Adult Protective Services (kinda like DFCS for adults) began an investigation, as did the Cobb Co. building inspector’s office.
WXIA has greater discretion than other Atlanta stations in such cases. The station produces only an hour of news in the early evening, half the size of the “beasts” that WSB and WAGA feed at 5 and 6pm. It can afford to let a guy like Kevin Rowson make the right decision on a personal tragedy that, at first, smells like news.