Daily Archives: June 9, 2009

News Directors at 11

press club

Scroll to the bottom of the post for an update.

Eleven snapshots from the Atlanta Press Club forum, featuring Atlanta’s four local TV news directors:

TV news stinks. WXIA’s Ellen Crooke, commenting the state of TV news:  “It doesn’t have to be a list of all the terrible things that happen every day.  That’s why TV news sometimes stinks.”

Mystery solved. WSB’s Marian Pittman, explaining why her TV station inexhaustibly covers traffic accidents:  “You never know when the Mayor is going to be in that car.”

View from below. From WGCL’s Steve Schwaid:  “We had a good May book.  We’re up.  Life is good.”

Blazing, sleuthing. WAGA’s Budd McEntee, talking about the relevance of local TV news to the community:  “And sometimes it is the live apartment fire… and sometimes, it’s great investigative reporting.”

Easy on gas: “I prefer ‘hybrid.'”  –Schwaid, on his preferred term for one-man-band (or backpack journalist).  WGCL has just hired its first “hybrid,” as has WSB.

Watch out, Monica. “The icons are going away.  They are.”  Pittman, in response to a question about highly-paid news anchors.  WSB anchor / diva Monica Pearson was in the audience, as was her less-flashy on-air partner, John Pruitt.  Pittman said she was especially talking about local TV stations rated third or fourth in the market.  WSB is numero uno in Atlanta, ratings-wise.

Who says the news has to be “new?” When asked to describe recent innovations at his station, McEntee listed WAGA’s aces-in-the-hole:

  • The I-Team, which has been around for thirty years;
  • Good Day Atlanta, which debuted in the early 1990s, and;
  • WAGA’s 10pm / prime time newscast, which debuted in 1995.

That wasn’t a trick question! Crooke answered the same question by citing these 2009 innovations:

  • WXIA’s webcasting of editorial meetings;
  • Re-formating the 11pm news to occasionally focus largely on one topic;
  • Leading a newscast with a story about triplets graduating from high school, and attaining video of their father in Iraq participating in the ceremony.  “There was no crime scene tape involved,” said Crooke.

Pittman told the crowd she “wasn’t invited” to a meeting that set up the local news service, a camera-sharing arrangement among WAGA, WXIA and WGCL.  Now, she says “I don’t know if they’ll invite” WSB.  (Pittman also said she still would have declined to sign up.)

McEntee responded by inviting her on the spot.

“Chicken!” – A good-natured audience heckler to McEntee, when he said he wouldn’t discuss anchor salaries.

Update: Click here for another perspective on the APC forum.  The blogger has written more extensively about the event.  He has also linked to this piece of video, showing Ellen Crooke discussing innovations at WXIA (in an “arrogant” and “narcissistic” manner, if you believe some of this blog’s commenteriat.  Did you folks actually attend?  Just wondering…).

Rodney Ho also writes about it here in his AJC blog.