LocalNewser standupkid's dispatches from the frontlines of local news


Atlanta News Boss Resigns: “It’s Been a Great Ride”

There are those stations in local news where a news director seems attached to the foundation of the place, and in Atlanta, "longtime WAGA news director Budd McEntee" is one of those people.  He's been the news boss at the station since 1991, which is a helluva long run for anybody in this biz.  But by the end of the week, he'll be "former WAGA news director Budd McEntee."

"It's been a fascinating opportunity and a great ride," McEntee told the AJC's Rodney Ho, hinting the departure--coming weeks after WAGA GM Gene McHugh's--may signal behind the scenes shifts at a station that's been "remarkably stable."

Ho talks to WAGA vet Angeline Hartmann, who describes a conversation she had with McEntee about Channel 5, and how it's more than just another TV station:

“He was passionate about being first, getting it right and getting it on the air,” said Angeline Hartmann, who worked at WAGA-TV from 1996 to 2005 and is now a correspondent at “America’s Most Wanted” in Washington D.C.

She said for people he knew were loyal to WAGA, he treated well. And even when she left, he would joke to her, “You’ll always work for me.” Years later, he would still call her for tips and would ask her when she was returning. (”When you leave WAGA, you have a little 5 carved in your heart,” McEntee added. “It’s a special place where people take care of each other and turn out some of the best storytelling and reporting I’ve ever seen.”)

“The longer you’re there, the more you can appreciate him,” Hartmann said. “I’ve had my share of him calling me into his office letting me know he wasn’t happy about this or that. But he made me a better reporter and helped me develop a thick skin.”

She said she was shocked he was stepping down: “We always thought he’d die there!”

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Death and Destruction! Awesome!

Here's the thing about Twitter--you've got to get the tone just right.  And if you aren't sure how to do that, I'll give you a quick example:  exclamation points do not always convey URGENCY.  Sometimes they can signal FUN!


Or, take this tweet tonight from LA's KCAL:  "Fire burning in Thousand Oaks!  Live on KCAL 9 right now!"  I know what they were going for there, but to me, it sounds like YAY!  FIRE in THOUSAND OAKS, everybody!

Just saying.

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White Live Trucks in Tampa and Lovebug Season. Ah, the Joys of Local News

Lovebugs! How could I ever have forgotten lovebugs?

But of course, once you move away from Central Florida, you do.  You never again worry about scrubbing their sticky bodies off the front of your car before they eat the paint off.  Gotta live wildlife, right?  And Florida--why so much damn wildlife, anyway?

Then this morning I saw a video shot by a crew at my old station in Tampa, WFTS.  The crew comes under attack by a massive cloud of the linked-up love machines, which are apparently drawn to light colors, like the bright white live truck: (hey, 28ers--who's the photog who seems so unaffected by the reporter's narration?)

It's a pretty good video if you've ever had the pleasure of finding yourself in Florida at the start of Spring or end of Summer and these copulating critters start swarming.

Every market has its own little quirks, right?  Those Savannah sand gnats? Holy crap, how annoying.

What's your favorite local news pest (not including the ubiquitous lens lice, of course)?

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Faux Outrage Alert: CBS Stations “Prostitute” Themselves to Push “Hawaii Five-0″

TV critics love the mock outrage, don't they? In his writeup today about the hype-fest at CBS O&Os around the debut of the new "Hawaii Five-0," Chicago's Robert Feder takes down the weather guy of all people: "When Steve Baskerville cheerfully delivered the weather forecast for Honolulu during WBBM-Channel 2’s 5 p.m. newscast Monday, he wasn’t just shilling for the premiere of “Hawaii Five-O” that night. He was taking part in a well-coordinated plan to prostitute the newscasts of CBS-owned stations nationwide."

Oh, spare me.


Bold Idea for Local News: Put Something on the Menu for Smart People

Chris Anderson, TED Curator

Maybe you've heard that across the country, in a desperate search for any signs of eyeballs that might watch local news, stations are moving the start of their early morning newscasts to the are you sure that's not still considered night time of 4:30 a.m. This is all about doing whatever it takes to grow audiences, wherever and whenever they may be.

Let me give stations another idea, though admittedly a bold one--and one that you don't have to go into work at 11 p.m. to get ready for--why not target some smart people?


Applegate Ankles Burbs for NY’s PIX

Jodi Applegate Credit: Fabrizio Ferri for More Magazine

Long rumored, now nearly done-deal status, Jodi Applegate has reportedly been released from her contract at News 12 Long Island so she can land an anchor gig at NYC's WPIX.

Richard Huff has the details in today's New York Daily News, saying Applegate, who was co-anchor of WNYW/NY's Good Day NY when I toiled the early morning hours on that show, will depart LIRR-ville October 1st.

As Huff describes the next steps, "Applegate's departure from News 12 and arrival at Ch. 11 is expected to start a series of changes, specifically for current 10 p.m. anchors Jim Watkins and Kaity Tong.

As previously reported, Applegate is expected to be hired by Ch. 11 to anchor the 10 p.m. newscasts solo."

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Air Wars Latest: There Are No More Air Wars

Great Memories: South Florida's Legendary Sky 10 (WPLG)

In this morning's Boston Globe, a local newser who remembers the good old days, Andrew Dubrovsky, a WHDH vet, recalls the days when news choppers ruled the skies: "It was a zoo up there. Everybody would be in each other's way."

Sadly, cutbacks and a few horrific accidents have all but grounded the air fleets that once alerted lost ground crews to the location of a breaking news story: uh, looks like it's probably directly underneath those six hovering choppers, I'm guessing.

As the Globe reports, in Boston, WBZ and WFXT have shared a chopper for a year now, and WCVB and WHDH are talking about a similar agreement. The costs of keeping a chopper and crew on standby for breaking news has--with notable exceptions--led to some bad decision-making in newsrooms, desperate to keep the bird in the budget. What? A schoolbus disabled on the interstate? Holy crap get the chopper up and get Bob on the flashcam.

And yet, as I've lamented here before, I miss those days.

I love the above pic of Sky 10, one of the choppers I have a lot of memories flying, catching tapes dropped from the bird as it hovered over the roof of the station in Miami--and perhaps most important of all--when the chopper made a relief run into the Florida Keys after a hurricane, delivering suddenly delicious Publix supermarket sandwiches to a starving and tired crew.  Have you got a fave chopper?  A vote for the baddest, toughest, most take-no-prisoners news bird to ever fly?  I'm collecting votes--and, if you've got 'em--pics over on the LocalNewser Facebook page.

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Five Top Ways to Think Like a Reporter and Get Your Story Covered

Feed Us News! We're Always Hungry (But First, Make It Taste Like News)

Okay, so a few weeks ago, I took Ye Olde Blogmobile out for a high-speed spin along the winding road of the Rant-o-bahn--In 5 Reasons Why Reporters Hated Your News Release, I dished on all the pet peeves reporters have when it comes to PRs and their news releases (which, oddly enough, Advertising Age has decided to kill off, yet again indicating they are out of touch with how an emerging digital world doesn’t kill things, it changes them).

So now, all (well, some) snark aside, I want to use my reporter’s insights to offer something back: the 5 Top Ways to Think Like a Reporter and Get Your Story Covered.


New York’s Fox 5: Making Its Own Reporters and Photographers Sick

Probably Safer Outside the Truck

When I worked at WNYW, I got a quick lesson in how things worked:  the flash and wizbang was all on the screen, and definitely not out in the field.  The live trucks were patched together, given new paint, and driven constantly.  The result was a fleet of rigs that leaked, creaked, and occasionally, filled with gas fumes.

I remember writing emails to management, expressing concern that a few of the trucks might not be safe--having spent a morning shift sitting for hours on end inside a truck and feeling the need to get out and get fresh air, and going home with a headache.  I also remember never, ever getting a response to those emails.


Local News: Your Screwed Up Friend Who Deep Down Doesn’t Want to Be Helped

You know that friend you've known for years--maybe a high school pal you still talk to? The one who never gets relationships right? You know how they sit sadly over beers over and over saying they're going to turn over a new leaf and stop making such obvious mistakes the next time around?

And then the phone rings and you already know the drill. I just couldn't resist, they say. I know. I know. I know.

And that's local news.