Here’s what the DVR turned up while watching WAGA’s 10pm news Saturday.
Embattled sergeant. Chris Shaw produced a story about the homecoming of a soldier who lost three limbs in a roadside bomb explosion in Iraq. Interesting enough. But Shaw’s purpose was to tell a detailed story about a controversy surrounding two homes, funded by charitable outfits, to accommodate Sgt. David Battle. One home was in Maryland, another in Fayetteville. Turns out, one charity accused Battle’s wife of fraudulently applying for and receiving one of the homes.
The story became a bit convoluted. It would have been easier to understand with clearer material about the accusation. Shaw used the best video at the top of the piece — but it only muddled the story about the charity controversy. At the end of the piece, the anchors completely overlooked the controversy, and talked about how swell it was that Battle got such a nice homecoming.
Producing the story on the day Battle returned home also seemed a bit — rude? Ahh, what do we know? Grade: B (grade changed upon further review– see comments).
Shootings and a killin’. Back-to-back anchor v/o’s of crime scenes involving garden variety shootings. Great crime scene tape footage. The cliche never gets old.
Traffic jam / no traffic jam. This was a v/o about traffic stacked up on I-85 due to an accident. Yet a close examination of the live DOT camera showed traffic moving normally. They either got the story wrong or showed the wrong camera. No explanation was offered.
Georgia Theatre fire. Darrell Carver produced a serviceable piece about the aftermath of the landmark Athens fire. Can’t say we learned much we didn’t already know. It included the puzzling line that the “fire gutted the theater for most of Friday.” The photographer inexplicably decided to keep Carver’s face out of focus during a standup. Grade: C
Iran Protests. WAGA decided to wait until 10:07pm to show the story that was the talk of the world Saturday. The technique was good enough: Get Julia Harding to fold the crazy internet video from Tehran into a local package showing protests at CNN center. Although the local protests were lame, the Iran story should have been the lead. Grade: D for misjudging the importance of the Iran story.
Fugitive Cop. Portia Bruner’s piece on the whereabouts of a wanted-for-murder DeKalb cop was the most interesting local story in the show. She showed surveillance video that appeared to show Derrick Yancey boarding a Greyhound bus after skipping bond in DeKalb. She also talked with Yancey’s attorney. The story was well-enough told but poorly edited, probably because it was very last-minute. Grade: B
Peachtree Road Race. Sports anchor Karen Graham delivered a fun-to-watch piece on folks training for the July 4 race. It was light, breezy and well-done. Grade: B
America’s Most Wanted offered its star correspondent, ex-WAGA reporter Angeline Hartmann, for a live shot from AMW’s phone bank. AMW had done a piece on Yancey. We’ll forgive Hartmann for saying “phones were ringing off the hook, literally” just because she’s a) so adorable and b) because she appeared to instantly realize she’d committed the gaffe (unlike most of her audience). One can imagine phones falling from their hooks as Hartmann vigorously smacked herself in the forehead after the shot ended.
DUI Checkpoint. Julia Harding pulled the unenviable double-duty of producing the Iran protest story, then running out to Union City to do a by-the-numbers DUI checkpoint piece. The highlight was her live shot tag, when she reported the arrest of a woman who had displaced her child from a car seat in order to make room for the product of a beer run. Grade: B-
Overall: The local crime-scene stuff was minimal but played too highly. The Iran miscue was very, very puzzling. The station should have kept Harding on the day’s most important story and skipped the empty and predictable police / media crackdown in Union City.
The show was well paced and easy enough to watch, as local newscasts go. Graham and meteorologist Joanne Feldman are two significant reasons for that. Grade: B-