The commentariat

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The best and worst thing about blogs is the “comments” section.  This blog has had 3967 comments (not including a couple dozen I’ve deleted), and I’ve read every word of each of them.  Blog commentary can be illuminating.  Because the comment-makers can stay anonymous, they can also be horrifying, ugly, personal and hateful.   The AJC’s blogs — which appear to lack moderators, who would have the discretion to delete over-the-top, pointless commentary — are outstanding examples of the latter.

Unfortunately, blog commentary is the closest thing Atlanta has to news media analysis nowadays.

Without any judgmental prose, Jim Galloway posted the above video of Monica Pearson’s lamentable encounter with Beverly Hall.  The commentary, critical of Pearson and Hall, drove the storyline.  Yet most of it missed the salient point:  WSB spent a bunch of money to send Pearson to Hawaii to find and interview Hall, only to get an on-camera apology from Pearson for “invading your privacy.”

No apologies! Rod Gelatt, University of Missouri professor emeritus guy

(Back in the ’70s, J-school professors named Gelatt, Gafke, Dugan, Utsler, Morris and others pounded a point to we callow students at Mizzou:  Never apologize for doing your job as a reporter — especially when pursuing an evasive public figure implicated in a big-time scandal.)

Elsewhere at the AJC, Rodney Ho’s Radio and TV column lacked any mention of this remarkable gaffe by Atlanta TV’s highest-profile personality.

The absence of coverage is almost certainly a function of the newfound integration of the Cox-owned WSB and AJC properties.  AJC reporters, booted from their longtime Marietta St. HQ, now occupy space in the WSB building at 1601 Peachtree St.  The pages of the AJC now promote WSB material as a matter of course.  The newspaper’s long-running disclaimer — WSB-TV is owned by Cox Enterprises, which also owns the Atlanta Journal-Constitution — is no longer used when mentioning WSB.  The merger of the two news organizations is all-but complete.

(Quaintly, WABE-FM still uses a disclaimer whenever reporting on the Atlanta Board of Education, which owns the NPR affiliate.)

In the 1980s and 90s, the AJC expended some noteworthy energy and talent covering the local TV news biz.  A writer named Gerry Yandel frequently mentioned talent moves and sweeps pieces produced by the various TV stations.  Another writer named Drew Jubera once wrote a lengthy piece wherein he watched local news for an entire month and analyzed what he saw, a clever and amusing snapshot of a significant element of local life in Atlanta.  Both wrote critically of WSB, treating it no differently than WXIA, WAGA or WGCL / WGNX.  And their pieces always used the disclaimer.

Ho writes irregularly about hires and departures in Atlanta TV news during gaps in his coverage of commercial radio and American Idol.  Apart from that, his last substantial piece about local news was a profile of Dagmar Midcap.  That was three years ago.

So who’s going to write thoughtful analysis of local news — print, radio or TV?  Not me.  I don’t have time.  Nor do any other bloggers, apparently.

So it’ll stay unruly, occasionally enlightening and frequently ugly as the commentariat fills the void.

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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.

23 thoughts on “The commentariat

  1. Element

    That was as embarrassing an encounter, passed off as journalism, as I can recall. And frankly the second worst was when 11 Alive went and tried to do the exact same thing. Then trumpeted that it was the first exclusive interview? First, exclusive and interview are the words I’m having the most difficulty accepting as fact. Yet not even a mention of said copycat-smackdown in this post?

    Maybe I’m getting off topic. Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of what you guys are trying to do over there. But I think its only fair that we keep all the kettles and the pots in the arena.

    Reply
  2. Gato del Valle

    On my list of The Worst of All Media 2011 Monica’s Hawaiian vacation is solidly second, right behind UK’s phone hacking scandal. I don’t know much about these two women but they seem remarkably similar not only physically but mentally too, with their overwhelming sense of self importance.
    And, by the way, what’s with the 1950s-style headroom? The odd framing was just as inept as Monica’s “interview”.

    Reply
  3. Bonz

    What do expect from Ms. Monica, junk yard dog?

    That’s why they sent HER, to say Pleeeaasseee can I talk with you..

    Reply
  4. arky

    The most embarassing AJC pimp of WSB: Whenever they run a story on the AM station, they always call it “AM 750 and NOW 95.5FM News/Talk WSB,” highlighting the word “NOW.” At first I thought Rodney Ho was just doing it as a joke, but then it showed up in all their stories… even in a Cynthia Tucker column.

    Reply
  5. Anne

    Finally! Someone wrote about this laughable ‘work’ trip to Hawaii! I thought nothing could be worse than the promos…until I saw Monica’s huge grin while delivering her story in her sundress with the wind blowing in her hair. Come on!

    Reply
  6. Patti

    Poor Doug, 11alive makes you stand outside in lightning storms, and Monica gets paid vacation in Hawaii

    Reply
  7. GuyBelcherSharpeKauffman

    All hairstyle lady needed to do was say this to Hall “You should be in jail” and the trip would have been worth it.

    The AJC no longer a news organ. Just a cage liner.

    Reply
  8. CB Hackworth

    I’m looking for the disclaimer, “Doug Richards is employed by WXIA TV.” Just can’t find it. Which seems odd, given the condemnation of Monica Pearson and comparative praise of Karyn Greer.

    This column was great before you took a job at 11Alive, but now it’s a conflict of interest far more egregious than anything you possibly can report, and certainly worse than whether some poor, overworked schlep at the AJC remembered to include a disclaimer about Cox also owning WSB. The “newspaper” is so short staffed it has interns writing major stories, so my guess is that most of its shortcomings are a result not of incest and coverup, but of being stretched too thin.

    Also, a question about this sentence: “Unfortunately, blog commentary is the closest thing Atlanta has to news media analysis nowadays.”

    What’s so unfortunate?

    Bloggers (with the exception of those who have a vested interest in trashing the competition and ignoring anything critical of their own station) certainly do as good or better a job as Gerry Yandel or Drew Jubera, whose observations were mediocre at best and, as often as not, belied the fact they’d never stepped foot in a TV newsroom and basically had no idea whatsoever of what it took to run or work in one. Phil Kloer was better, and there have been a few others over the years. However, by and large, bloggers seem to provide better, more incisive checks and balances than the newspaper ever did.

    Reply
    1. live apt fire Post author

      Though it’s perhaps not as prominent as it should be, you’ll find the ‘doug richards is employed by WXIA’ disclaimer in the “about live apt fire” page, which is the first link in the column to the right. Since 2009 it has mentioned my employment at WXIA-TV. Not to mention, my countless tedious posts about my job at WXIA.

      I wasn’t accusing anybody of a conflict of interest. I was just longing for the days when Cox properties feigned independence from one another.

      Reply
      1. Joshua Miller

        Ironic “Live Apartment Fire” is not cross-promoted on TV as a feature report. Two independent forms of media merge as one.

        Reply
      2. Mr. Bear

        The same problem shows up all over town. Consider Jeff Dickerson on Sunday morning’s Georgia Gang. During the week he is P/R person; some of his clients have been the public school systems in two different counties, if not more. Yet, not a peep when he expresses his “opinion” about school matters. It makes it harder to evaluate his comments.

        Reply
  9. English Major

    Cross-promotion sure makes economic sense for commonly-owned properties, but, as you point out, Doug, it goes straight to the credibility factor of both, and pretty much deep-sixes any claim they have to objectivity. That’s especially true when they don’t bother to post a disclaimer.

    I remain convinced that actual delivery of papers to subscribers (like me) will help Cox’s economic model more than any cross-promotion, though. Such a simple thing to do…so evidently hard to accomplish. I have to have it for work but don’t recommend subscriptions to anyone else.

    Reply
  10. Russj

    Totally laughable… I cringed at Monica’s “performance”.. commenting on the beauty and the beaches. She was sent there ’cause supposedly she is a journalist… evidently she also is very familiar with Hall: but still no excuse to give Hall that kind of gentle treatment. Lost her voice?? Seemed fine to me… and to Karyn Greer. Totally bogus. Chase her down like any other two-bit ‘hood…. should have sent Belcher..

    Reply
  11. Og Ogglby

    And the major media companies continue to lobby the FCC for more of the AJC/WSB/Cox Media cross ownership that has led us to this sorry mess. They are actually arguing that (now, don’t break a rib laughing) more cross ownership and higher per-market ownership limits will improve service to their communities. The only thing that increased was the number of unemployed radio reporters and air talent, as voice tracking became the norm for all shifts except for morning drive. The promised “synergy” has only led to more cynicism about the state of broadcasting.

    Reply
  12. steve schwaid

    As a former member of the Atlanta media I wanted to post my comments. While I commend WSB and WXIA for spending the money and the initiative, as a journalist I was highly disappointed with the reporting. There was little or no reporting – just an expensive promo opportunity.

    This is a huge issue and a story that needs some heavy duty reporting. Both reporters failed to truly confront the superintendent and report.

    She is a public official/public figure. No apologies are needed. And neither reporter asked what I would call the Tough Questions. Answers are needed and we failed to hear any.

    This story required an investigative reporter. One who is willing to ask the very direct questions and not be afraid of having the door slammed in their faces.

    But then, part of this is the dynamics of the Atlanta market where some of the media are afraid of holding people accountable.

    To WSB and WXIA A+++ for making the commitment and spending the money.

    The execution F-

    Reply
  13. English Major

    Ohmigod, are you kidding? “One who is willing to ask the very direct questions and not be afraid of having the door slammed in their faces”…how does that relate to getting answers??? Oh, I forgot, it’s all about asking the “tough questions.” You probably won’t get an answer, but it sure entertains the viewers when you get a door slammed in your face. Sounds like a promo opportunity to me…

    Reply
  14. News junkie

    Hey Steve Schwaid…lets give you a grade as news director at WGCL….F!!!!
    Take your tough questions and go Philly where they like that crap!

    Reply
  15. Joshua Miller

    Wow – just watch the 11alive report. REALLY? You felt the need to show a live interview of how you’re sending back cell phone video? Most people know it’s not that hard to skype. Neither station’s report offered any reason info or answers. At least WSB showed a few shots of what Hall is doing in ATL. 11Alive came across as amateurs down to the rambling ad lib of Greer’s intro from the beach.

    Reply

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