Category Archives: WYFF


Mark Bullock, WSFA

Noteworthy, overlooked and undervalued observations from the 2010 Southeast Regional Emmy nominations, announced Friday:

Stephanie Maxwell, WAPT

The region’s “best” news anchor may work in Montgomery, Albany GA, Jackson Miss. or Asheville.   Mark Bullock, the Montgomery anchor (and UGA grad) who won an Emmy last year for “On-Camera Talent – Anchor – News,” is nominated again this year.  Ben Roberts of WALB, Larry Blunt of WLOS and Stephanie Maxwell of WAPT are also nominated.  Brenda Wood of WXIA is the only Atlanta anchor nominated in this category.

By the numbers: WXIA got the most news nominations, edging WSB.  WLOS of Asheville got more nominations than WGCL.   Here’s the LAF count, strictly unofficial (and, undoubtedly flawed since I ran out of fingers and toes):

  • WXIA,  24 nominations
  • WSB, 21
  • WAGA, 12
  • WLOS, 9
  • WGCL, 8
  • WYFF, 6

WGCL even somehow got excluded from the “station excellence” category.  That category included WXIA, WSB and WAGA, plus WYFF in Greenville.

Wendy Saltzman, WGCL

Investigative reporting rules. Wendy Saltzman’s name appears in five of WGCL’s eight nominations.  Dale Russell got nominated for his outstanding coverage of the fall of Glenn Richardson on WAGA.  Shawn Hoder and Ross McLaughlin got an investigative reporting nod at WXIA.

Jaye Watson, WXIA

“Interactivity” is a relatively new category.  WXIA got the only Atlanta news nomination.  Via the web, the station connected a soldier serving in Iraq with the high school graduation of his triplets.  Fox Sports South got the only other nomination in this category for an SEC football show.

Michelle Marsh, WGCL

“News Excellence” is a vague category which appears geared for head-to-head competition among news directors.  There are only two nominees:  WXIA news director Ellen Crooke, and WYFF news director Justin Antoniotti.

Jeff Dore, WSB

The General Assignment Reporter category is packed with worthy nominees:  Jaye Watson and Duffie Dixon of WXIA; Jeff Dore of WSB; and Michelle Marsh of WGCL.  Marsh is a nights-and-weekends 2009 newcomer to Atlanta.   The others are solid veterans.  It’s too bad they can’t all win this category.

Duffie Dixon, WXIA

No photographers were necessary, apparently, for WAGA’s “breaking news” nomination.  The station’s nod for flood coverage gives sole credit to two anchors and an executive producer.

Andrew Young, the former mayor / UN Ambassador turned TV documentarian, got more nominations than WSB anchor / diva Monica Pearson.  Jovita Moore, Pearson’s WSB heir-apparent, also got more nominations than Pearson.

The bloviating blogger who chews through untold bandwidth MBps bashing dimwitted “breaking news” gets a nomination at WXIA — in “spot news.”  Figures.

Election method

Election night is always a little misleading.  During the evening, the public watches and listens to broadcast media to see who is “leading” in the vote.  If a candidate is “leading,” it implies that there is an ongoing competition.  But there isn’t.

Once the polls close, no candidate is “leading.”  One of them has already won.  But the vote-count is ongoing, with results trickling out to the public through the news media.  That trickle of information yields a deceptive horse-race quality that adds drama to the evening, and keeps political geeks (as well as your garden-variety well-informed citizens) glued to the media on election night.

On November 1, WXIA delivered partial election results more quickly than the rest of the news media.  It showed the horse-race quality of the vote count more quickly.  WXIA also geographically showed which precincts were voting for Mary Norwood or Kasim Reed.   This was unique.  Nobody else did it.

This was the result of a brainstorm from the bosslady.  She figured out that the law requires precincts to post the results of the race after the polls close.  The post is supposed to be visible to the public, typically affixed to a door.  She reckoned that WXIA could find a way to send staff and / or volunteers to nearly all of the 160 or so of Atlanta’s election day / runoff precincts.

There were skeptics.  I was among those who feared that pollworkers would simply ignore the obscure law requiring the posting of results.  With fewer than a half-dozen exceptions, it turned out I was quite wrong.

It worked quite well.  It was remarkable, actually.  As the Associated Press (and as a result, every other news media in town) reported next-to-zero election returns, WXIA was gathering results from volunteers and and tabulating the vote total.

This wasn’t exit-polling.  These weren’t estimates.  They were official results, gathered at the precinct level.

It also resulted in some confusion for those who watched WXIA’s vote totals alongside those of other media.  Rodney Ho wrote about it in the AJC Wednesday.

Because our volunteers mostly fanned out from WXIA’s Midtown studios, they gathered numbers earliest from Northside precincts that favored Norwood.  Our board showed Norwood with an early lead that shrank as the evening wore on and the numbers came in.

But unlike most local election night totals — which don’t give the geographic breakdown of the incoming numbers — WXIA was able to fully disclose which precincts it had counted.  The station used a color-coded map that showed which precincts had been counted, and which ones hadn’t.  This gave viewers more information to make informed judgments about what the early numbers meant.

In his post, Rodney Ho quoted WGCL news director Steve Schwaid, who implied that WXIA’s numbers somehow weren’t “official.”  Quoth Schwaid:  “It would never cross our minds not to use the official counting source for information.”

WGCL was among the stations that had next-to-zero election totals for the first 90 minutes after the polls closed.  Schwaid apparently misunderstood;  the numbers WXIA used were official.   The next day, WXIA updated its map with numbers provided by the Board of Elections website.  Except for absentee ballots, they were the same.

Funny thing is, it’s unlikely WXIA (or anybody else in Atlanta) will be able to repeat this method anytime soon.  There are too many precincts in Congressional and state elections to staff them all.  A city election is just right for this kind of exercise.

There’s always 2013.

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The Emmy doesn’t go to….

Marriott Marquis, New YorkEmmy nominations are almost always fun.  There are a couple of exceptions.  One:  When the “academy” fails to recognize your award-worthy work.  Two:  When your work gets nominated, but lo and behold, your name somehow fails to get on the entry form.

For example, Manuel Bojorquez of WSB apparently did a pretty outstanding job of covering Tropical Storm Fay.  Bojorquez is nominated for an Emmy in the Spot News category.  But if a photographer shot Bojorquez’s story, somebody apparently decided the photog wasn’t worth including in the nomination.  Bojorquez is nominated all by himself.

Likewise, WAGA’s I-team produced a series of stories that exposed a shady Marietta mail-order company called Digicom.  Randy Travis had undercover video that showed salesmen in a call center tricking people into ordering videos like “Girls Gone Wild.”   A photographer shot a classic parking lot confrontation.  Travis got a Consumer Reporting nomination, along with a producer and an editor.  (Undercover newsgathering truly takes a team effort.)  But the photog didn’t make the list of nominees.

WAGA’s photog probably got squeezed by Emmy rules, which often restrict the number of nominees in a particular category.  Bojorquez’s photog, however, just got left by the side of the road.

Other noteworthies from this year’s Emmy list:

  • As noted elsewhere, many of Georgia Public Broadcasting’s nominees have since been laid off.
  • Smaller markets once again owned the Feature Reporting category.  Last year, John Le from Asheville won that category.  He’s nominated again.
  • Andrew Young — yeah, that Andrew Young — is nominated for two Emmys.
  • Bishop Eddie Long is nominated for an Emmy.
  • Coverage of the March 2008 tornado garnered nominations for dozens of Atlanta news folk.
  • WYFF in Greenville got at least 17 news nominations.
  • Under-watched WXIA got at least 30 nominations.  Its brainy-blonde general assignment triumverate of Jaye Watson, Duffie Dixon and Jennifer Leslie got eleven among them.
  • Under-watched WGCL got a paltry three nominations

Find the complete list here.  The award ceremony will be held in June.

2008 Emmys

Saturday was a good day for a TV reporter named John Le. He’s a feature reporter at WLOS in Asheville NC. Saturday, Le won three Southeast Regional Emmy awards. Le single-handedly captured more Emmys than the entire staff of WGCL or WXIA.

It was also a good day for Tony Thomas, a general assignment reporter for WAGA. Thomas also bagged three Emmys, two for weather coverage.

(Btw, next time you see WGCL’s Wendy Saltzman, offer her a hug. She was nominated in three categories but got skunked.)

For many, the big story at this year’s Emmys was the improbable victory of WGCL in the final category of the awards program: Best Newscast. The awards committee selects a date at random and compares the newscasts of all the stations in the Atlanta market. WGCL had a good day that day. It proves that when WGCL peels away its silliest tendencies and lets its people do their jobs, this station has the potential to find an audience.

But to us, the bigger story was about guys like John Le, and stations like WLOS and WYFF, both in the Greenville / Spartanburg / Asheville market. Those smaller market stations took home a bunch of Emmys that the Atlanta stations should have been able to get:

  • News photographer, WYFF
  • News editor, WLOS
  • News writer, WLOS (John Le)
  • Sports story, WLOS (John Le)
  • Breaking news, WSPA
  • Investigative reporting, WYFF
  • Health / Science news, WLOS (John Le)
  • News Feature, WLOS
  • On camera reporter, WLOS
  • Weather anchor, WYFF
  • Weather, WLOS (tied with WAGA)

Download the entire 34 page document of Emmy nominees and winners here.

It’s worth noting that WYFF won the investigative reporting Emmy over two entries from WAGA’s vaunted I-Team. (But the I-team made up for it with Emmys in two other categories.)

It’s also worth noting that zero Atlanta stations had an entry in the Feature reporting category. It speaks volumes about the market’s disinterest in telling stories that lack a hard news edge. Quoting from John Le’s bio on WLOS’s web site: “John Le‘s mission is pretty simple: to find the most memorable story of the day.”

Not the middling breaking news. Not the “get.” Not the “can it be a lead?” exclusive. Those are the stories that drive the competitive fires of news directors and consultants, and drive audiences away from local TV news.

The “memorable” stories? Tune in to WLOS. We found this John Le piece on Youtube: