Category Archives: monica pearson

Icons

"Get this creepy blogger away from me!"  Monica Pearson, WSB

"You're a blogger now? Awesome!" Monica Pearson, WSB

When Tom Houck jumped up to ask the first question at last week’s Atlanta Press Club TV news director’s forum, he referred to local news anchors as “icons.”  He asked a very good question:  Given the contraction of the news business, how long will local TV stations be able to justify paying large salaries to TV personalities like Monica Pearson at WSB, and Brenda Wood at WXIA?

Marian Pittman, news VP at WSB interrupted the question to say Pearson was “worth every penny.  Plus some!”

Unfortunately, only Pittman and Budd McEntee at WAGA answered the question.  McEntee’s answer consisted of a lengthy justification of the presence of iconic anchors.  He also artlessly dodged moderator Denis O’Hayer’s follow-up question about whether anchors would continue to pull in “the kinds of money” they do as newsrooms tighten budgets.

Pittman, employer of Pearson (who is Atlanta’s most iconic anchor and undoubtedly brings home the largest paycheck in local TV news) had a more interesting answer.  After saying that Pearson was “worth every penny,” Pittman referred to a Radio and Television News Directors Association survey that pointed to a likely decline of anchor salaries.  She also noted that across America, iconic anchors are losing their jobs because of tightening budgets.

Hear their answers to Houck’s “will anchors keep making big money” question below.

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“Hybrid”

Original hybrid:  Julie Wolfe, WXIA

Original hybrid: Julie Wolfe, WXIA

WXIA was the first.  WGCL jumped in a few months ago.  WSB did it last week.  All of those Atlanta TV stations now employ “backpack journalists” a/k/a one-man-bands a/k/a “hybrids.”

The position seems to be a natural part of the evolution of 21st century newsgathering, where budgets have contracted alongside viewership and advertising dollars.  It’s regrettable in a big market, where both the reporter and photographer have challenging jobs.  It’s also inevitable, as the four Atlanta TV news directors seemed to agree during an Atlanta Press Club forum last week.

(It’s also very retro.  As WSB anchor Monica Pearson loudly proclaimed during the forum, “everything old is new again.”  Pearson told the gathering that in her first TV job in the 1960s, she reported, shot film, processed and edited film, then anchored the broadcast.)

Here’s what the Big Four had to say about one-man-bands.

Oh, wait– did we say Monica Pearson started her career in the 1960s?  We need to double check that….

Fireplug

Blogging “has not gotten there yet,” according the WGCL news director Steve Schwaid.  Can’t really disagree.  Some blogs are there– Huffington Post, Gawker, Politico.  But locally, the only must-read (aside from the AJC, arguably) — and the one other bloggers go to most days — seems to be Peach Pundit.  You may disagree, of course.

But if your name is Monica Pearson, you don’t read Peach Pundit.  Apparently, you read this one.  And a few others.

I-priestess  / blogging / twitter guru Grayson Daughters sampled some opinions about blogs and such following Tuesday’s Atlanta Press Club forum.

(In honor of Pearson, maybe we should just change the name of this blog to “doug.”  Or “fireplug,” which is Tom Houck‘s nickname for this site…)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Atlanta Media Folk on Social Media 6-…“, posted with vodpod

Denver nuggets

The good news: WSB is staffing the Democratic convention in Denver. The station sent anchor Monica Pearson and political reporter Lori Geary. More good news: Pearson apparently team-covered a meeting of the Georgia delegation with Geary in what appeared to be a hotel ballroom. It’s always refreshing to see Atlanta’s premier anchor/diva in the trenches slinging a stick mic.

Pearson’s soundbite with Rep. David Scott appeared in Geary’s piece about the delegation’s desire for unity surrounding nominee-to-be Barack Obama. Unfortunately, Geary’s piece was predictable and leaned heavily on video of a hotel ballroom meeting. She redeemed it somewhat by disclosing that Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond and House Minority Leader Dubose Porter are considering runs for Governor.

Meantime, Pearson delivered a piece on Rev. Cynthia Hale, the Decatur pastor who gave the invocation Tuesday. Shot in Decatur prior to the convention, Pearson’s piece was also predictable. Hale, like Pearson, is a smartly-coiffed middle-aged African American woman. Their dueling hairstyles gave the piece a “whoa!” factor otherwise lacking.

Give WSB’s management credit for recognizing that this year’s DNC is a high-interest story and a welcome respite from the drumbeat of weather coverage. Give its staff in Denver a little encouragement to actually come up with some high-interest material.

Sonic blast

It won’t win him any awards, but give WSB’s Tom Regan credit for a fun and interesting special report Thursday. Regan showed off a device called “the Mosquito,” a sonic system that emits a pulse designed to irritate the ears of the young. The idea is to use the gizmo to drive off unwanted groups of “chillin'” teens.

Regan deployed it to an unsuspecting crowd near a school, which dispersed. He played it to a classroom full of teens, most of whom expressed annoyance by it. He also played it for anchors John Pruitt and Monica Pearson. Pearson, 60, told Regan the device irritated her. Pruitt, age unknown, couldn’t hear it at all. Regan suggested that classical music might have the same effect on teens. We suggest these guys.

The rest of WSB at 6

Do normal people actually watch an entire hour of local TV news? After the shock of watching 2’s lead story, we were too stunned to leave our seat. Maybe that’s what they intended. Observations:

Rachel Kim had a forgettable story about a killing that won’t be news for much longer. The family declined to talk on TV. Neighbors were somewhat helpful. Kim is good at developing stories, but not on this particular evening.

Ross Cavitt had a nice enterprise story about WhiteWater’s plan to dig wells to supplement its water supply. The story gained nuance when Cavitt revealed that it ain’t likely the wells will help much.

Jovita Moore– substituting for the thankfully absent Monica Pearson– had the best scoop of the show: An exclusive interview with the new, and much-criticized CEO of Grady, Pam Stephenson. It was a nice lick for Moore, who frequently spends her days in the trenches covering news prior to her nightly anchor appearances at 5.

Lori Geary had a rare emotional story from the Capitol about school bullying. She deftly removed her earpiece during her live lead-in because a technical glitch created a distracting echo. Geary didn’t miss a beat.

Ashley Hayes had what could have been the show’s most interesting story: Cops in Hilton Head talked at length about the disappearance of an Atlanta couple, and the suicide of the main suspect. But the story lacked immediacy because it was obvious Hayes was relying on material fed from other TV stations based in SC.

WSB ran an anchor reader on a captured fugitive. They must have grit their teeth as they gave a photo courtesy to America’s Most Wanted, a show on their arch-competitor WAGA.

And then there was weather with Glenn Burns:


Afterward– live in the dreaded 6:30 slot– Tom Regan produced possibly the most watchable story of the day: A trade show that opened at the storm-battered World Congress Center. Apparently, the GWCC is in better shape than most expected.

Ryan Young had the gratuitous live shot of the night: “Live in midtown” with a story about a robbery in DeKalb Co. “Live in midtown?” That’s WSB telling the world that they’re making one of their reporters stand on the lawn of the TV station on Peachtree. Why? Who knows.

Sports had the best surprise: Bill Hartman reported on new seats at Turner Field, built in front of the previous front row. The story showed rows of seats that drift absurdly close to home plate– the closest spectator view in all of MLB, according to Hartman. Local TV sports no longer exists in many markets– yielding to the hegemony of ESPN. Atlanta retains a lively and competitive local sports presence. It’s often worth watching.

Perhaps we’ll slog through the 6 o’clock show of another station next time.

“she’s filing her nails while they’re dragging the lake…”

  • It’s soooo last week’s news.  But WSB-TV has posted an explanation of how it got the John Lewis “exclusive.”  After viewing it, one wonders why the station bothered.  Turns out that the anchorwoman known as Monica Pearson was in the newsroom when her phone rang.  The caller ID apparently showed the well-known 202.224.xxxx of the US  Capitol.  Monica deigned to answer. The caller was from Lewis’s office, offering an interview the following day.
  • This was a story that the AJC and presumably, all four Atlanta stations pursued pretty aggressively.  Monica was apparently not among those losing sleep over Lewis’s will-he, won’t-he decision to bolt from Clinton in favor of Obama.  But as she gigglingly explains, the call led to what WSB touted for days as an exclusive. 
  • True, any Atlanta TV station would have gone apeshit upon receiving the same call.  True too, that no Atlanta TV station would have been able to resist a little breast-beating and self-congratulation over being selected to get the interview.  But it’s always a little fishy when a news organization / personality gets selected by a newsmaker as a favorite— especially when that personality e.g. Pearson, has shown no apparent interest in the ongoing story previously.  I would have been a little embarrassed to tell the world that I got a scoop because I got an unexpected phone call out of the blue. 
  • Lastly– is it really an exclusive when the AJC and NBC news got the exact same interview at the same time?  Next time, save the chest-beating for something that is a) really exclusive and b) something you actually worked at to put on TV.