First, a pet peeve: “Action News” is almost the stupidest handle ever applied to a local TV news brand. It dates back to (probably) before your birthday, when TV stations quaintly told their stories by way of 100-foot spools of mag-stripe news film. As Electronic News Gathering busted through the technological gate, some genius in Philadelphia birthed the moniker. “Action News” was deemed to have an actual meaning: Shorter stories, a higher story count, younger anchors and livelier content. Hey — look it up in Wikipedia! There’s an entry under “Action News.”
This 1970s-era relic is still used by a certain TV station in Atlanta, along with the same gold-and-blue color scheme, fronted by the oldest most veteran anchor team in town. In the early 90s, WSB anchors still occasionally tossed to “this channel two action-cam report.” One expected to see Jessica Savitch‘s image materialize into the chromakey.
This backs us into the point of this post: WGCL has changed handles. Again. Our cranial capacity is too limited to remember them all: News at 10, Clear News, CBS-46 news. Now it’s CBS Atlanta News.
(We were among the only folks on the planet who thought “Clear News” was kinda cool, a forward thinking and somewhat descriptive brand for what the station strove to deliver. But in most quarters, it became a local punchline, and helped keep viewers away from the station’s newscasts in droves. Shows what we know.)
Anyway. We know that WAGA’s “Fox 5 News” and “CBS 46 News” were so named for the cold purpose of delivering ratings. When Nielsen had diarists who manually recorded their viewing habits, they had to write down either the network or the channel in order for the show to get a Nielsen credit. “Fox 5” and “CBS 46” gave them two chances to get it right.
Now, it’s done electronically. WGCL is acknowledging this by pulling back its alpha-numeric brand, and giving Atlanta its only TV news station with “Atlanta” as part of its name. Isn’t CBS “America’s most watched network” or something like that? Could be genius. But what do we know, right?
By the way, ever notice how WAGA won’t completely dislodge “Eyewitness News,” its pre-Fox outcue, from its promotion? “If you see news, call Eyewitness News,” they say in newscasts. It’s because WAGA doesn’t want another station to grab it. As if “Eyewitness News” was a hot property worth protecting.
Oh yeah — “11 Alive”? The alliteration is cool up to a point. But it’s even stupider than “Action News.”