Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Veteran newsman Doug Richards rips into WSB-TV over overindulgent 'chest-beating'

Posted By on Wed, Sep 4, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Doug Richards
One veteran Atlanta journalist is taking rival reporters to task over the way they self-promote their news reporting.

Doug Richards yesterday aired his grievances in a personal blog post about Cox Enterprises, the media company that owns the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB-TV. In his full post, which is worth a read, the WAGA alum and current 11 Alive reporter calls out the company for its overindulgent reminders that they, yes, are doing their jobs.

So why the nausea?

Very simply, it's the chest-beating. Every single time the newspaper produces a story about the Atlanta Public Schools scandal, it includes a box that informs the reader that the AJC broke the story and has followed the story at every step. Every word is true. The AJC did great work sizing up the test scores and bringing the scandal to light.

And I'm OK with some chest-beating. All news organizations do it. But the AJC never passes up an opportunity to do it on countless stories. Its putrid feedback loop of endless self-congratulation and self-promotion makes me want to hurl. Lord knows how bad it would be if the AJC had won the Pulitzer it undoubtedly craved for APS story.

This is in stark comparison to the pre-2008 AJC that carefully and almost painfully separated its marketing from its editorial content. We'll let local TV sully itself with that, you could almost hear them saying on Marietta St. How things have changed. Even its Sunday editorial page column by Kevin Riley or whomever, wherein the boss purports to bring transparency to the newsgathering process, ends up being a predictable exercise in chest-beating. Barf.

Maybe WSB-TV is as self-congratulatory as its "partner" in Cox crime, the AJC. However, self-promotion has been part of the TV news game since forever. TV is competitive. The AJC is the only game in town, newspaper-wise. So TV chest-beating is more defensible than the AJC's.

Richards then goes to pick apart a few Cox employees. That includes: WSB-TV reporter Mark Winne, who describes himself on as Twitter: "TV reporter at #1 major market station in America. Priorities: God, Family, Truth for our viewers." Winne didn't take too kindly to his remarks, but unsurprisingly reaffirmed the reputation Richards was highlighting.

There was also a "heavily made-up blonde" intern who drove a baby-blue Hummer to assignments and an arrogant station manager who snubbed all other major Atlanta news stations by saying WSB is more focused on competing with other metros' outlets.

He's definitely got a point. For instance, anchor Jovita Moore recently claimed that the alleged McNair Elementary gunman wanted to exclusively talk to WSB-TV. But bookkeeper Antoinette Huff, who phoned the TV station that day, said that the suspect didn't actually have a preference for which station should be called.

Richards admits he goes over the top - he used the word "barf" seven times during his critique - but there's plenty of truth in what he's saying. It's nevertheless amusing and worth a tip o' the hat.

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