Mouth of the South

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My ill-advised and poorly-executed quest for world domination got a questionable boost last week when WXIA aired the first Suspicious Package segment on Sunday’s 9am news.  It’s the video above.

Because of its double (or more) entendre qualities, Suspicious Package is the name I sometimes wish I’d used for this site instead of Live Apartment Fire.

The franchise, such as it is, is an inside-ball look at local TV news.    No matter how cynical we are, I think all of us in the TV news biz take our work seriously.  We value well-told and well-produced stories.  We value timely reporting, accuracy and fairness.  Our competitive qualities make us better and more aggressive journalists.  Our deadlines are facts-of-life.

Yet those qualities that define us — especially competitiveness and deadline timeliness — frequently drive our personnel into weird territory, and the audience sees it.  Yes, they’re glued to the tube when they’re stuck at home during Snowmageddon 2011.  They want to see what’s going on in the world outside their icy driveways.  But they are also clued into our antics, which are mostly driven by our desire to produce compelling material, and the fact that all of us in TV news are flawed human beings.

Local TV news is a source of information.  It’s also a bit of a hometown-flavored sideshow.  The audience recognizes the silly elements of our business, same as we insiders do.  Perhaps even more than we do.

I’m continually amazed that I work for a woman who not only recognizes it, but wants to shed light on it, and isn’t afraid of the audience’s reaction to it.  This on-camera bit was Ellen Crooke’s idea, not mine.  She pitched it when she first hired me.  I stalled for months, then scratched out a couple of scripts in November, and shot the demos while on paternity leave.  Except for requiring that I appear clean-shaven, she didn’t change a thing.

You are free, of course, to dispute or add to the points I’ve made.  It’s just one bloke’s opinion.

The second piece is shown below.  Here’s your insider look behind Suspicious Package: I shot them both the same day.  But for the second one, I zipped up the hoodie, hiding the t-shirt underneath, arguably giving the audience the impression I had dressed somewhat dissimilarly for the two pieces.

As if anyone really cared.

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About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

9 thoughts on “Mouth of the South

  1. Chuck

    love this. it’s a fantastic idea – one that i hope will catch on and continue. your like an aging, hipster version of a less cantankerous andy rooney.

    i kid. (sorta.)

    seriously, i hope they do pick up the segment. because this type of piece is sorely missing in the atlanta market.

    something that i was able to confirm to myself while sitting at home watching a lot of local news during the snow (you’ll be pleased to know that most of it was WXIA) is that i have a mild disdain for a few of things that are, at times, in conflict with each other:

    first, i don’t know who thought it was a good idea for anchors to stand-up from behind there desk, but i’d like to punch them in the arm. hard. sit down – behind the desk – and tell me the news. i don’t want to see your legs.

    secondly, be honest. after hour 704 of hothlanta coverage, jill becker had that look of “i can’t take another bit of forced humor”. it was fantastic. as much as i like the behind-the-desk anchor, i don’t like forced seriousness – or worse – the forced humor that is often seen in that anchor-desk dynamic.

    lastly, enough with suits already. that old adage that you can’t trust anyone wearing a suit … if the shoe fits. (yay, mixed metaphors!) leave the suits to the news channels pushing a political agenda or the times when a live remote is being broadcast from the capital rotunda. otherwise, news is best reported – in my opinion – when the one doing the reporting is in tune with the subject with which they are covering.

    it won’t hurt anyone to put those slacks in the closet and replace them with some jeans.

  2. Joey Ledford

    Very funny stuff, Doug. The fact that your employer is willing to run these segments proves you guys are trying to do new and different things. I applaud you, and I have been rewarding you with my viewership. That is hardly worth two cents, but there you go anyway.


    Never forget, it’s all about boss lady. In one week she fired paul, “retired” Jill and demoted Ted. Doug, hope you have your anchor Suit ready.

    Ellen wants those that suck up to her… Stay tuned we All know there’s at least two more to fall.

  4. Alex

    I was skeptical at first, but warmed up quickly. The 2nd installment had me laughing. Makes me want to watch WXIA now, especially now that I’ve grown very tired of Fox 5. Ooooops, can I say that here?

    Oh, tell the BossLady to keep Jill Becker from leaving.


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