Daily Archives: January 6, 2009

Money shot

WGCL's money shot

WGCL's money shot

If you’re going to spend all night at a hostage standoff, you want one thing:  You want the picture of it ending.  The four Atlanta TV stations spent the wee hours of Monday in Madison, where an ex-cop named David Deitz was holding his baby hostage in a motel room for some twelve hours.  But when Deitz walked out of the hotel room holding the baby, WSB and WAGA missed the shot.

WGCL got the video.  And it wasn’t the best picture in the world– but it clearly showed Deitz emerging from the room, baby in arms.  An accomplice emerged through the same doorway seconds later.  An AJC photographer also got the photo, which WSB used and credited.

How could you spend all night waiting for this very picture, then miss it?  It’s easier than you’d think.

Photographers can’t roll continually on the doorway.  The sheer volume of video would be unmanageable, and they’d drain their batteries.  Likewise, photographers have to shoot other action, like when SWAT team guys position themselves.  They have to shoot spokespersons when they hold news conferences.  They have to shoot their on-camera talent during live shots.  They have to abandon their cameras periodically to edit packages for newscasts.  If the TV station sends no more than one photographer, then the station risks losing the money shot.

Sometimes law enforcement agencies will intentionally divert news media away from the money shot, by holding a news conference as the climactic moment is taking place.  It’s unclear what happened Monday in Madison.

By the time most people saw this story, it was long finished and of rapidly diminishing interest.  But the managers at the TV stations keep score on this kind of stuff.  Score one for WGCL.