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.”
(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.