Daily Archives: October 16, 2008


As promised, we present the worst TV story ever. Produced in 1979 for a station in Columbia Missouri called KOMU, the subject matter is fairly self-evident.  The TV station dispatched the reporter, a University of Missouri student, along with another student (Kevin Sullivan, now a tireless CMO with a big Atlanta law firm), to the Lake of the Ozarks.  They toted a CP-16 magstripe film camera, and 200 ft. of film.  The students would make the 75-mile one way trip, shoot each other’s stories, then return with “team coverage” before that term was coined.

It ain’t pretty.  This story stayed in a 3/4″ tape box for nearly thirty years before getting dubbed to DVD this week.  If you have old stories on tape, get ’em dubbed now before this happens to you.

Here goes:

Let’s examine this.

  • The photography is lame.  Did you kids bring a tripod?  If so, use it.  Too many telephoto shots off the shoulder.
  • The writing is middling at best.  Did you really say there are “thousands” of conference centers in the Midwest that could accommodate such a meeting?  Next time, leave the weed behind.
  • This was a flavor piece without flavor.  Did your professors teach you about “nat sound”?
  • is it really news that Big Jim Thompson shopped for antiques?
  • Surely there was an additional governor to interview.
  • And then there’s the standup.  You look mighty smug, kid– way too smug to spout a line like “governors are people too.”  You did not just say that, did you?  Tell me you didn’t.  That line alone makes this the most wretched piece of TV news ever.

The only upside is the reporter’s plaid jacket and hairstyle.    It may redeem you stylistically, but not journalistically.

Occasionally, this space gently chides TV news professionals currently in the business.   In that event, know this:  Whatever they’ve done cannot be worse than this bit of curdled, stinking drek.

Neonatal newsgatherers

This week the University of Georgia’s Grady school of journalism took over a real-life on-air TV station.   Used to be that UGA’s J-school kids had committed acts of television for a cable-only station in Athens.  Now they have an actual FCC-licensed TV station.  This means TV viewers in northeast Georgia will be subject to an ongoing TV news experiment.  It should be horrifying, amusing and potentially exhilarating.

WNEG’s transmitter is in Toccoa.  Occasionally, Channel 32’s news crews would overlap into territory covered by the Atlanta media.  The Toccoa station was staffed by youngsters fresh out of places like UGA.  Its owner, Media General, sold the station to UGA.  Technically, this appears to make WNEG an outlet of state government.  This will be an interesting circumstance for the liberal-media-conspiracy set, given the state’s Republican bent.

UGA says the station’s news division will continue its focus on northeast Georgia, basing its operations in Athens and Toccoa.

This has precedent.  The Board of Curators of the University of Missouri owns the license to KOMU, a network affiliate that is the training ground for wannabe TV reporters at MU’s J-School.  That station is managed by professionals.  Its news managers also double as college professors.  With the exception of some on-air talent —  Paul Pepper is still there? — the news product is produced and reported by students.  It’ll likely be much the same for WNEG.

The Red and Black has more details. The move is a good one for UGA’s J-school, which is now churning out legions of youngsters who want to forge careers in the news biz (most of whom appear to be women who aspire to become CNN anchors).  By having a commercial station at their disposal, it raises the stakes and throws the students into a professional environment.  Once they graduate, that makes them more attractive to station managers in cities like Savannah and Albany, whose low-salary starter shops receive truckloads of resumes from kids straight out of colleges across America.

In honor of this development, tomorrow we may post the worst TV story ever. Yeah, a college student did it.