Ablaze: WAGA’s news judgment

Sweet apartment fire.  “You’re like candy to me.  But candy’s no good.” On Friday

  • the Wall St. bailout talks lost and regained traction
  • more local gas stations went dry
  • the presidential candidates met for their first debate
  • an aide to Rowland Barnes testified at the Nichols murder trial;

… and WAGA devoted seven minutes of its evening news to an apartment fire.

The Calibre Springs apartments in Sandy Springs had the peculiar timing to go up in flames in the middle of the 5pm newscast.

WSB appeared to arrive on-scene first.  Its helicopter had the better angle.  WSB also used better judgment, taking two quick sixty-second hits from its chopper guy Jason Durden at 5.  WAGA got on the air about a minute after WSB did, and overcompensated for its so-slight tardiness:

  • WAGA did three live hits of coverage during the 5pm news, lasting three minutes, 2:45 and forty seconds.  There was one more :40 taped anchor v/o at six.
  • We heard the word “flames” thirteen times.
  • We heard the word “smoke” ten times.
  • We heard the word “water” nine times.
  • We heard the phrase “as you can see” or variations thereof fifteen times.

WAGA, and to a lesser extent WSB, couldn’t resist the candy.  Neither could we:

There were no injuries reported.  It appeared neither station deigned the story important enough for nightside coverage.

Is it news when an apartment bursts into flames?  Yes, but not seven-plus minutes worth.  Truth is, it’s kinda fun to watch a building burn to the ground.  Those running the newsroom know that eyeballs are not likely  to stray to the kitchen (or another station) when it’s showing flames and a “live” super.  It plays to the cheap seats, occupied by precious viewers of local TV news.

Our favorite part is the exasperation in Russ Spencer’s voice during the final 6pm hit.  We’d like to believe it’s rooted in Spencer himself wondering:  “Shouldn’t we use this time for a different story?”

Sweet irresistible confection, “and your oh so nutty chocolate covering…”

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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.

2 thoughts on “Ablaze: WAGA’s news judgment

  1. live apt fire Post author

    I posted this video on Youtube Saturday. Sunday, this comment appeared on Youtube:

    Who the hell made this? Yes, I kind of laughed in astonishment. You know, that was exactly the theme music that was running through my head as I was getting the extinguisher out and running around fearing for everyone’s safety. Since you had time to make this come help us carry out our soggy burnt up shit tomorrow. 😉

    Of course, I sympathize with the personal tragedy of the folks who lost their belongings. My point was that the coverage was disproportionate to its newsworthiness. This resulted in the repetition seen in the video.


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