Saturday night WAGA

Chris Shaw, WAGA

Chris Shaw, WAGA

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.

Darrell Carver, WAGA

Darrell Carver, WAGA

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

Portia Bruner, WAGA

Portia Bruner, WAGA

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-

10 thoughts on “Saturday night WAGA

  1. Jim

    Can’t swear to it, but I think I saw the same DOT footage. I went back and looked, and it seemed like traffic in the foreground (left to right) was moving normally, but the far lanes (right to left) only had one or two cars, which would go with their statement that one lane was open. If that’s the one I saw, then it seems the wreck was actually so far back you couldn’t see it.

    Given that you also couldn’t see any traffic issues, I have to wonder why the used the shot. Again, that’s assuming we saw the same shot.

  2. Jay

    I watched both WSB, WAGA and WXIA Saturday night. I know, I know, I’m a wild and crazy guy who really parties hard on the weekend.

    WSB also covered the car wreck on 85. I believe there was one death. They had footage from earlier (it was still daylight when the accidents occurred) which showed the traffic backup. There have been numerous occasions in which I’ve seen anchors talk about accidents and/or backups before going to a live shot of traffic moving smoothly. Some anchors do a good job and play it off, while others sound confused or what’s even funnier they ignore the reality that there is no current traffic problem. Someone really ought to check on that before the story comes up in the newscast. Anyone who drives on Atlanta area interstates knows that DOT information (especially those message boards) can be infuriatingly wrong.

    I can’t say I was the least bit confused by the story on Sgt. Battle. I give kudos to WAGA for airing the story because I think it takes balls to “Question The Troops” in a state like Georgia in which so many people reflexively “Support The Troops.” I also saw a story on WXIA about Sgt. Battle which made no mention of the house controversy.

    I don’t think Portia Bruner’s story on Yancey being “last-minute” is a good excuse. There was no new information in her story. The surveillance footage was first aired a couple of weeks ago, and Keith Adams still says no one knows where Yancey is. I’d rather have heard more about why Judge Workman allowed a double homicide suspect to be released on bail, or what DeKalb has or has not done to correct the clusterf*ck that is/was there ankle monitoring programming, or especially why it took a couple of months for Sheriff Brown (or whoever is in charge of tracking down Yancey) to get the Greyhound footage and release it to the media.

    1. live apt fire Post author

      Your point about Shaw’s story is a good one. It was a ballsy story to do on the day Sgt. Battle returned home. This was the first I’d known about this issue surrounding his houses, which led me to the “rude” observation. I also viewed Shaw’s story a second time and had no trouble understanding the issue. If there had been some more support material from Maryland — an on-camera accuser would have helped a lot, or a text statement, or something to bolster the point of the alleged wrongdoing — that would have added some punch. Upon review, I think I’ll change Shaw’s grade from C to B. Not that it matters.

      You watched three late newscasts on a Saturday? You ought to be writing this blog.

      1. juanita driggs

        Better to have teased Sgt. Battle’s story on the eve of the weekend for longer more thoughtful treatment the following Monday. You might could still retain some bragging rights about being among the first to make the audience aware of the story. But if not, who cares? Just do justice to a particularly sensitive story. This is a good example of something that should be taken slow and easy instead of dumping it on some hapless, underpaid weekend writer who’s probably already multi-tasking him/her self into a nervous breakdown.

  3. formernewsaddict

    Chris Shaw is neither hapless nor on the edge of a nervous breakdown (that I know of), nor can I speak to his salary scale.
    He is, however, a skilled reporter adept at getting his own stories and presenting them in a clear, informative and interesting manner. He usually does justice to the material he gathers and writes himself. This is not meant to be a knee-jerk defense of Chris, whose work speaks for itself, but a clarification of what his position is and who writes his reports.
    As for waiting for Monday to air the report, it was a strong story with a “today” hook for Saturday (the sergeant returned home that day), which also has a monster to feed.

    1. Russ

      Chris Shaw is consistently excellent. This is a good example, Juanita, of someone who should have thought twice (or even once) before hitting submit.

      1. juanita driggs

        I don’t doubt Chris is a consistently excellent reporter/writer as are many of his colleagues. Chris’ work speaks for itself… when he’s given enough time. Too often reporters like Chris aren’t afforded the luxury to fully develop their own stories because they’re chasing so many others. The disconnect occurs when their work is passed off to a writer who is also overwhelmed trying to assemble too many stories at once.

  4. formernewsaddict

    While your broad observations are too often true, in this case that did not happen. It warrants being careful about what you observe and when to apply it. At WAGA, reporters in the field usually write their own package scripts.

  5. juanita driggs

    Your clarification is much appreciated. I never intended my comments to be construed as an ad hominem attack against Chris. He hit the ground running the minute he came to town and is obviously a quick learner in a very competitive market.


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