Monthly Archives: February 2009

It’s all about me, vol. 1

Couldn’t help but notice that WAGA anchor Tom Haynes produced a story Monday about the burglary of his own home.  The on-camera premise, uttered during a tease,  seemed honorable enough:  We ask you to tell your stories of woe on TV, Haynes told viewers.  Now, I’m gonna tell you mine.

And then Haynes told his story, with improv’d standups / self-interviews as he gloomily looked at the damage.  Aside from an interview with a neighbor who’d suffered the same fate the same day, there wasn’t much else.  From a storytelling standpoint, that was unfortunate.  Haynes would probably agree that, while jarring to his family, his was a routine burglary.   If it hadn’t happened to a WAGA talent, it never would have gotten on TV.

Haynes’s supervisors probably strongly urged him to do the story.  The pattern would be familiar; they strongly urged self-coverage of another burglary at the home of a WAGA reporter in December 2005.  In that instance, however, the burglary-spree story had been ongoing.  The burglary of the reporter’s house yielded some arrests a few hours later.  And there was the madcap tale of the priest who called 911.

This story delivered another unexpected surprise:  A follow-up two days later, on Christmas. That fact alone indicates how hard-up TV is for news on Christmas Day. I actually like Mark Hyman’s “poor Richards” version better, mostly because he gave me a rare opportunity to make fun of WAGA’s management:

All this leads to the title of this post:  This blog will mark the one-year anniversary of its first post this week.  I’ve tried to avoid too many self-referencing comparisons, the “back in my day, we got screwed over by management this waytype of stuff that would get awfully tiresome awfully fast.  This week, we may self-indulge.  Feel free to return for more later in the week, or wait for less self-absorbed posts next week.

Water, water everywhere

Adam Murphy, WGCL

Callling BS on the commish: Adam Murphy, WGCL

We’re overdue to deliver a slow but sincere one-man round of applause for Adam Murphy.  The WGCL reporter has taken more than his share of abuse on this site for the still-unfortunate Restaurant Report Card.  But maybe that franchise, and Murphy’s tough-guy role in it, has steeled him for the worthy work he’s done in the last few weeks on the Atlanta Water Department follies.

Investigative reporter Wendy Saltzman has been equally tenacious.  Saltzman and Murphy tag-teamed a Water Department news conference last week, wherein commissioner Rob Hunter tried to explain that the city’s bizarre overbilling of residential customers raises “complicated issues.”  Maybe for him, yeah.  WGCL has documented extraordinarily large water bills that have suddenly and inexplicably arrived in the mailboxes of Atlanta residents.

“Let me make it clear.  Commissioner Hunter called that news conference because of our persistence on this story,” Murphy began a live shot.  “In fact, Commissioner Rob Hunter said I was rude when I tried to ask him a tough question.”

Murphy’s package began with Hunter triumphantly telling the news conference about flaws in a list of complaining water customers delivered the previous day by WGCL.  Hunter said the list didn’t include street addresses and phone numbers.  WGCL sent a second photog to the newser.   When Murphy pounced, it was on-camera.

“You mentioned six people were unreachable.  You realize… they all have e-mail addresses.  They are reachable, first of all.  Second of all, are you saying that every one of the people who has contacted us is making this up and lying?” Score a bulls-eye for Murphy.

“Absolutely not saying that.  And I don’t know how you would reach that conclusion,” Hunter stammered.  We’d like to know if that’s the exchange the brought the allegation that Murphy was “rude.”  Murphy never gives the details, unfortunately.

Murphy has been following the story almost daily in his role as WGCL’s consumer reporter.  It’s a story that’s rife with ongoing trouble, made worse by Rob Hunter’s efforts to dodge WGCL’s questions and failure to fix the problem.  WGCL has found and stayed after an absurd and inexplicable story that deserves exposure and affects real people.  If the trade-off is that we must tolerate the Restaurant Report Card, we’re OK with that.

Stuff journalists like

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Reporters who are serious about following their industry, technology and how it all meshes in a shrinking business climate will want to follow a blog called Advancing the Story. It’s written by ex-CBS and CNN reporter Deborah Potter.  It’s serious-minded, broad based and worth checking regularly.

A blog called “Stuff Journalists Like” will mostly evoke knowing grunts from its readers in the news biz.  Its posts may make some journalists squirm a bit.  That’s OK, given the fact that journalists wake up every morning knowing they’ll make other people squirm.  Some samples:

Press Passes:  “…journalists really like displaying their passes on lanyards. It allows journalists to show they belong where they are and allows them to be snobby without digging in their wallets for their press pass. Some even like keeping a collection of current and expired press passes on these lanyards.

Coffee:  “It’s the Gatorade of journalists.”

Awards:  “The quench for awards is so much at times that journalists find themselves putting off potential award-winning work to focus on submitting awards entries.”

Cluttered desks:  “Journalists have a lot of reputations. Watchdogs. Seekers of the truth. Defenders of the fourth estate. And completely disgusting slobs.”

Dating other journalists.

And yet, ain’t none of it as amusing as a post in Viewfinder Blues last week called “As Seen on TV.”   This is but an excerpt.  Read the whole post here:

YOU THERE, lounging in that office chair, how’d you like to work off those winter pounds without ever stepping foot in a smelly health club? Care to crisscross the globe – or at least the six closest counties? Wanna be a first responder, but not really help anybody? Have I got a job for you! TV News – that fleeting discipline known to millions and loved by dozens could be your ticket out of that comfortable cubicle farm! Who needs coffee breaks when you could dine daily on fresh tragedy, an endless buffet of broadcast clichés and enough live truck generator fumes to fool you into thinking you’re making a difference in the community. Not only that, you’ll fatten your closet with garish logowear, build up those apathy callouses and slim down that pesky wallet! But wait – THERE’S MORE!

Yeah, we’re unduly obsessive about this guy’s blog.  There’s none more entertaining, nor pointed.  Viewfinder Blues, Stuff Journalists Like and Advancing the Story are all in our blogroll to the right.

H/T to Mostly Media.