The holidays can be desperate times for the news biz. With vacations, staffs are pared to a bare minimum. Offices are closed. Newsmakers disappear. Friday’s late news on WAGA was a fine example of such desperation.
A pickup truck crossed a center line in rural Douglas County, struck an oncoming vehicle and killed a woman. It’s a terrible personal tragedy. The victim’s family has our sympathy. So does WAGA’s news audience, which endured a Tony Thomas live shot on a darkened highway three and a half hours after the accident happened.
Despite anchor Tom Haynes’s effort to dress it up as a “developing story,” there was little to say. One could almost hear the remotes clicking as local TV foisted this bit of Breaking News on its audience.
Oddly, Thomas had just completed another story in Carrollton on a murder investigation, which he presented on WAGA’s 10pm news. The 10 also showed the accident scene, with a quick anchor reader. It was the right way to cover a story with no on-scene drama and few details.
There are a couple of levels of desperation at play here. One is the desire to cover anything that has the appearance of “breaking news” or a “developing story”– even when the scene has long been cleared.
There’s also WAGA’s earnest effort to give its 11pm news a different look from its 10pm news — even if it means taking an hours-old traffic accident and making it into a lead story.
That said, WAGA has 90 minutes of news to fill between 10 and 11:30pm — even during holidays, when there’s not much happening. This is the result.