Category Archives: wood brenda

Legacy

earl-paulkWXIA successfully walked an uneasy line Friday with a story about Earl Paulk, the megachurch Bishop / Lothario who died last weekend.  Paulk careened from respectability to disgrace during the last fifteen years of his life.  Much of that transition was painfully chronicled by WAGA and the AJC.  WAGA had been particularly aggressive on the Paulk story, culminating with a hidden-camera sendoff last year, showing the octogenarian pitifully trying to reconcile with a a woman he’d sexually abused for more than a decade.

Brenda Wood, WXIA

Brenda Wood, WXIA

So it made sense that the Paulk family would choose a station other than WAGA to do a “legacy” interview in advance of Saturday’s funeral.  Thankfully, Brenda Wood’s interview with Paulk’s brother, sister-in-law (with whom Paulk fathered a son on the sly), and that son struck just the right tone.  During the four-minute piece, Wood covered some of the material that the family might have hoped to see during the piece, especially Paulk’s history with the civil rights movement.

But the piece started and concluded with Wood maintaining a just-right air of tough questioning about Paulk’s flaws.   To their credit, the family made little effort to dismiss the ugly part of Paulk’s legacy.  Wood skillfully tied it together in a well-produced package that showed Paulk as a high-profile guy whose failures clearly exceeded his successes.  Grade:  A-

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Wood and China

The game of covering the Olympics for TV is rigged to the gills. If you work for an NBC station, you’re among the anointed, thanks to the gazillions paid by the network for the rights to the games. If you toil for, say, an ABC station– well, good luck. You’re on the outside. It ain’t right, but the game was rigged that way many moons ago.

So when WXIA sends Brenda Wood to Beijing for the Summer Games, it knows she and her photog will have access to venues and access to athletes. And it knows that promoting Wood’s presence may entice its prime-time Olympics viewers to stay in the WXIA tent for the late news and/or drive traffic to the station’s web site. Likewise, it gives WXIA good reason to use its half-hour at 7:30pm— normally a local newscast— as an all-Olympics special leading into NBC’s prime time coverage.

Wood and photog David Brooks have earned their keep. On opening day, they did it by staying away from the Opening Ceremonies, oddly enough. They found a venue full of ordinary Chinese, who stood agog in front of massive TVs and watched the spectacle. The piece Wood and Brooks produced was moving, funny and well-done.

Even better was a piece previewing the Opening Ceremonies. Wood took an idea and ran with it: Examine the number eight, a lucky number in China. It seems the Olympic organizers opted out of a cooler-weather start later in August or September, and deliberately chose to start the games on 8.08.08. Wood’s piece, again, was funny and enlightening. She also showed a nice touch in a rapidly-disappearing subgenre of feature reporting.

Feature reporting often focuses on personalities, or events, or visual oddities, or how-to. Wood took an idea fragment– a story about the number eight– and developed it into a fun-to-watch TV story. It calls for cleverness on the part of the reporter and photographer. It demands writing that makes the point without beating it to death. It’s an approach that can easily embarrass a reporter lacking a deft touch. Wood and Brooks pulled it off nicely.

And give the suits at WXIA credit for spending some coin hiring a translator for Wood and Brooks.

Wood is also doing a lot of sports reporting. She’s interviewing local athletes after they’ve won medals. There’s been a bunch. Wood’s an engaging presence in what are essentially “how do you feel” situations.

It’s worth noting that Brooks and Wood are blogging extensively about their experiences at 11alive.com. If you’re an Olympics nerd– or a Sinophile– they’re worth checking out.

Good, bad, ugly

The Good: Jon Shirek’s 6pm piece on WXIA on gas-crunch changes in auto sales. Shirek spoke with a dealer who no longer takes SUVs on trade-ins. He also revealed that hybrids may be less cost-effective than an old fashioned four-cyclinder buggy. As always, Shirek’s piece was thoughtful and well-written.

The Bad: WXIA’s new and unclever slogan: “Your gas station station.”

The Ugly: On WXIA / WATL’s 10pm news, management ordered the station to play an extended promotion for a new entertainment web site in the middle of the newscast. The promo was fronted by a chatty radio DJ, and seemed to go on forever. When the camera finally cut back to Brenda Wood and Ted Hall, they couldn’t conceal their embarrassment.