Category Archives: harding julia

Emmy notes

emmy-statuetteScanning the list of winners from Saturday’s Southeastern Emmy awards, a few things stand out.

A TV station in Columbia SC beat WSB and WAGA in the Investigative Reporting category.  WLTX produced a report in May 2008 about South Carolina prison inmates stealing the identities of Citibank card holders.  The inmates sold the information from inside the prison to co-conspirators, who used the info to charge purchases to the unsuspecting card holders.  WLTX’s best material came from an inmate who was part of the ring, who said of the victims:  “They’re well off. They won’t miss it, after all they don’t even have to pay for it, because once they contest the purchase, they won’t be penalized for it.”

WAGA general assignment reporter Julia Harding won two Emmys.  With insufficient seniority to kick her nights-and-weekends schedule, Harding won for a special report on the inability of Atlanta police to curb the smash-n-grab “blue jean bandit” crimes.  Harding also won for her coverage of the March 2008 tornado in Cabbagetown.

Dagmar Midcap won WGCL’s only Emmy, for a piece called Hurricane Hunters.  Midcap’s win helps cement her spot as WGCL’s franchise face.  Who says your main weathercaster has to be a meteorologist?

It’s better to win an Emmy than not.  But ultimately, the Emmys don’t mean much.  Ask Tony Thomas, the WAGA reporter who won three of them last year, then was asked to take a pay cut (he quit instead).  Thomas won another Emmy this year for his coverage of the downtown tornado.

Meanwhile — in a perfect world, Saturday’s Emmy banquet would have included several acceptance speeches like this one from Seattle.

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-

“And the number one threat to America…”

The graphic leading into Ross Cavitt’s live shot on WSB Thursday at six said “Bear on the Loose.” The story was about a black bear, documented with a cell phone camera, trotting through an East Cobb parking lot. Cavitt ended his live shot by advising viewers: “If you see this bear… go the other way.” Cavitt’s photog apparently declined to take the advice, however. The photog got close-up pictures of the bear “lounging behind an office park,” as Cavitt said. Thankfully, a chain link fence separated the bear from the photog.

It was a pretty good “get” for WSB. The DNR tried all afternoon to get as close to the bear as WSB’s photog got. Even after shooting the bear with a tranquilizer dart, the animal eluded its pursuers.

By 10pm, WAGA’s Julia Harding was on the same story. She got the same cell phone video, but her photog didn’t get the prized bear video. “Julia– what’s that behind you?” Russ Spencer playfully asked Harding at the end of her live shot, implying that the bear was in the background. Harding deadpanned that a strip mall was behind her, the joke eluding her (and perhaps much of the audience).

Interestingly, the graphic leading into Harding’s piece said “Bear on the Run.” One hour later, WSB’s 11pm follow-up also led with a graphic that said “Bear on the Run,” rather than “Bear on the Loose.” Coincidence?  Was “bear on the run” so doggone clever that WSB copied WAGA’s graphic?  Conspiracy theorists need not look on the web. Neither station has posted its bear coverage.

The Colbert nation would have been proud.