Gasoline shortage / price stories often have a tediously one-note quality to them. Over and over, the video and storylines repeat. And it’s somewhat unavoidable.
So give Ross Cavitt credit for pumping some life into his story on WSB at 6 Wednesday. Cavitt’s coverage from a Cobb Co. gas station had some surprising elements.
- An actual on-camera shouting match between a customer and a station manager. The customer accused the manager of hoarding gas for his friends.
- A motorist who admitted he’d stalked a tanker truck to see which gas station was getting a fresh supply.
- A picture of Cavitt and two other men pushing an out-of-gas car. Cavitt didn’t call attention to it, to his credit. But it was unmistakably him– his stick mic was clipped to his belt as he pushed. It was a nice bit of hands-on “reporter involvement.” It also helped him show the desperate straits of some of the motorists he encountered.
- An interesting closing anecdote about a tanker truck driver. Cavitt told viewers he asked the tanker truck driver if motorists “flash you the thumbs up or do they give you another digit…?” Cavitt said the driver responded that it was “about fifty fifty.”
Atlanta’s TV stations seem to want desperately to engage viewers over gasoline shortages. The problem is that the situation changes rapidly from gas station to gas station. They all tout their web sites as sources of up to date information. But good luck trying to actually use the sites, as the writer at Mostly Media did. Here’s part of what she writes about WXIA’s site:
Besides, when you do click on a green arrow for a particular station, you see that it/the info was, in some cases, last updated 20 hours ago! Or was presented/updated to show NO gas about 2-hours ago, yet the arrow remains green in color. (For “Go” presumably.) But hey, bad information is better than NO information? In this particular case, I think not.
We suspect that it’s simply impossible to maintain comprehensive, updated, accurate information on a gazillion metro Atlanta gas stations. She asks the right question. But the answer appears to be “take our information with a grain of salt. And don’t burn all your gas driving to that station with the green arrow.”