Daily Archives: August 3, 2009

Same story, different day

Some jaws undoubtedly dropped at WGCL late last month when WAGA’s I-Team produced an investigation on a used car dealership that sold cars with histories of accidents.  Dana Fowle’s two-parter showed that the dealership failed to disclose to customers the fact that its used cars had sustained significant damage in accidents.

The jaws dropped because WGCL’s Wendy Saltzman had done the same story three months earlier.

The dealerships weren’t the same, but the storylines were almost identical:

  • Dealership buys the used car at auction;
  • auction house discloses to the dealer that the car has damage;
  • yet Carfax fails to note the damage;
  • dealer sees Carfax report and purchases the car at auction, despite warning of damage;
  • dealer shows the Carfax report to potential customers and falsely claims the vehicle has no damage;
  • Customer purchases car, then later has nightmarish auto issues relating to earlier damage.

Ahead of her time:  Wendy Saltzman WGCL (with Roswell's finest)

Ahead of her time: Wendy Saltzman WGCL (with Roswell’s finest)

Saltzman presented her piece in an April prime-time special on WGCL.  Fowle delivered hers on the 6pm news.  Both pieces were hard-hitting.  Saltzman’s piece was excellent, though Fowle’s breezier storytelling style is refreshing and lacks Saltzman’s emphatic “we’re on a crusade here!” sensibility.

Saltzman was tougher on Carfax, an entity that inexplicably fails to get vital info from auction houses about accident histories, yet sells itself as the authority on such stuff.  Saltzman also managed to make herself enough of a pain in the ass at a Roswell dealership that the dealer called the cops.  Fowle, whose mobility is limited these days due to her pregnancy, skipped the crowd-pleasing theatrics.

Give WAGA credit for declining to promote the story as an exclusive.  Some stations might have done that anyway.

“Well this was a real eye opener for me,” Russ Spencer told Fowle following her set tag.  Spencer is among the legions of TV viewers who might overlook the groundbreaking work going on in WGCL’s investigative unit.