If WXIA news director Ellen Crooke critiqued its 6 and 7pm newscasts Wednesday, it may have read like this:
Denis O’Hayer led the 6 with a piece from the Capitol about early voting. O’Hayer’s task was to ask about extending early voting hours. He got a lot of rhetorical finger-pointing. The story was smart and well-told. Grade: A-
Catherine Kim’s piece from the Fulton Co. jail was the show’s most memorable. She chronicled the brutal beating of an inmate who testified against / “snitched” on Brian Nichols the previous day. WSB had crude photocopied pictures of the beaten inmate, which Kim’s story lacked. Kim also should have used interior file video of the jail, but didn’t. Grade: B-
Paul Crawley produced a live vo/sot on the Nichols trial. We aren’t fans of the live vo/sot. Pre-taped packages are much more effective, and don’t take much longer to produce or to show on TV. Knock that stuff off, please, Ms. Crooke. Grade: C+ for Crawley, D- for the producer who demanded a live vo/sot.
Bill Liss’s live v/o on the Delta / Northwest merger should have played higher in the show. Liss also had time to produce a file tape package. At least he wasn’t live at the airport interviewing passengers, as the other stations were wont to do. Talk about a cliche… Grade: C+
Ted Hall read a tease that said: “So many job seekers, so little openings.” Did he really say that? Yes. Some writer punk’d Hall. C’mon guys, there are children watching. Grade: F
Bill Liss returned with a piece on a job fair at the airport. The good news was that Liss produced a package. The bad news is that it was hideous. The shooting and editing were amateurish, leading us to believe that Liss may have been forced to shoot and edit this himself. Say it ain’t so. Grade: D+
Fred Kalil‘s sportscast was short, with vo/sots on the Hawks and Falcons. Done. Grade: C+
At 7pm, Denis O’Hayer returned with another edition of his 6pm story. Rather than producing a package or a live vo/sot, O’Hayer gave the audience four soundbites, back-to-back, lightly covered with b-roll. He gave it context with the intro, and the four bites essentially told the story. Understated and well done, but the lead story needs more meat. Grade: B+
Jon Shirek produced a piece narrated entirely via a colorful interview Shirek conducted (and apparently shot himself) with a Gwinnett pollworker. The piece was shot OK enough, but was (for the most part) nicely edited. Our favorite bit: The nat sound of a baby crying while his Mom waited in line. Grade: A-
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Paul Crawley delivered a lean, lucid piece on the testimony at the Nichols trial. Too bad he wasn’t allowed to do the same at 6. We’re glad to see Crawley back out in the daylight. Grade: B+
Brenda Wood spent almost four minutes interviewing Elizabeth Olimani about the upcoming Hosea Feed the Hungry event. It wasn’t great TV, but we’d rather see this than a newscast clogged with bogus breaking news. Grade: B
Valerie Hoff is now apparently WXIA’s coupon reporter. Wednesday, she did a piece about internet coupons and the potential for fraud. We learned something, which is never a bad thing. We liked the prominent can of hair spray on Hoff’s desk during her standup close. Grade: B-
Overall: We’re accustomed to seeing WXIA showing off its better-than-average photography and storytelling. Tonight, both were oddly missing. Yet the pieces at 7 by Shirek and O’Hayer showed some innovative touches you don’t often see. The live vo/sot, however, ain’t innovative. It’s lousy TV. Grade: B-