Daily Archives: January 22, 2009

Background noise

images1Lord help anybody watching WGCL’s news in the last two weeks.  Nothing wrong with the content, as local TV news products go.  You see decent stories.  You see some enterprising reporting and some pretty solid investigations.  You endure the Restaurant Report Card only once a week, thankfully.  You’ve accepted Dagmar as a pleasant part of the landscape, and learned to tolerate her occasional winks and her kindergarten-teacher voice (a characterization first astutely made by an LAF commenter).  You’ve also learned that, like Kanye, Dagmar no longer needs a last name.

But the perennial also-ran has morphed again.  It’s producing HD video.  It’s changed its handle to “CBS Atlanta,” partly a result, we suspect, of audience research that gave low points to the “46” part of its previous brand.  And it has ramped up its newscast stylistically.  This bothers us, but much about local TV news bothers us.

Leapfrogging the Fox 5 News Edge formula, a CBS Atlanta newscast on WGCL is an audio tech’s nightmare.  Every video transition requires a low “kwommm” sound effect.  Every super requires a “swoosssh.”  We suspect even the untrained masses have noticed.  We suspect they find it jarring, especially when the anchors are reading a succession of quick v/o’s.  And there are no exceptions, apparently, except during weather.  Don’t want to drown out the whispery voice of Dagmar, one reckons.

Fox Sports broke the mold when it introduced gratuitous sound effects into its baseball broadcasts. Skip Caray made fun of it.  But after a few years, the sound effects became part of the background.  It’s no longer a big deal.  Perhaps one day, we’ll grow accustomed to all the noise in local newscasts.  But right now, it’s an unwelcome cacaphony.

Meantime, WGCL had a viewer contest to name its helicopter.  The name, one presumes, should be consistent with its new brand.  The winner:  CBS Atlanta Sky Eye.  Too bad.  Here’s our suggestion:  SkyThumper.  That name would salute the racket helicopters create while their news crews on the ground are trying to record audio.  And it’s consistent with CBS Atlanta’s new brand, which is all about the background noise.

Conservative wanted

The AJC is holding a contest to find a conservative columnist.  It’s an odd way to hire a staffer.  But maybe this makes sense.

– Once Jim Wooten starts to fade away, there will be no more skilled conservative writers left on the staff of the AJC.  The purges of the last few years have eliminated any likely candidates.  Not a single qualified conservative writer left?  Yow.

– The new columnist will actually be on the staff of the AJC, according to its online criteria form.  One often saw Jim Wooten and Jay Bookman stalking the legislature for material.  The new guy / gal will do the same thing, and will have a seat on the AJC editorial board.

– Desperate for a hint of excitement surrounding a newspaper that has largely become a day-late reprint of the New York Times, the AJC sees its contest as a way to engage its increasingly skeptical readership.  Can an American Idol -style contest produce the next George F. Will?  Why not, right?

It’s worth noting that the online criteria form says that it’s “preferred” that the winning candidate have a bachelor degree eg. a college education.  Perhaps this is the wave of the future, and a nod to the past:  Walter Cronkite never graduated from college.  Neither did Ralph McGill.  The online criteria also says nothing about having a background in journalism.  Opinionmongers like Limbaugh and Boortz, we’re sure, would say:  Who needs that?