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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

4/6: Morning mash with WXIA’s “good news” emphasis, WGCL’s Adam Murphy, “ER” finale ratings

With so much bad economic news floating around, WXIA-TV has begun airing regular “good news” features during its evening news. It’s actively soliciting viewers for imput and ideas. This is similar to what NBC’s Brian Williams recently began doing on his nightly news program.

So far, it’s too early to say if it’s had any real impact, said WXIA-TV General Manager Bob Walker.

Plus, he’s a bit weary of the use of “good news” to characterize it.

“Good news is a term that insinuates ’soft,’ ” Walker said. “That is not what we are intending to be. We intend to be a solid news organization but provide a more balanced look at what’s going on in and around our community. And we want to invite our customers to be part of the process.”

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For instance, more than 3,000 photos were sent by viewers of winter snow photos a few weeks back. And 1,600 participated in a live chat about the Conflicker virus a few days back, Walker said.

“The point is local news is much more than crime and violence,” he added. “While we have responsibility to cover news of the day, we want to make sure we invest resources to shine a line on things that are important to people.”

You can feed good news to the station at its web site here.

The network is also focusing on bargains and free events (courtesy of Valerie Hoff), as well as news on who’s hiring and providing “random acts of kindness.”

WXIA-TV, which is the NBC affiliate, generally lags behind WSB-TV and WAGA-TV in ratings in most dayparts.

Michael Castengera, a University of Georgia broadcast journalism lecturer and TV station consultant, said efforts in the past by stations to focus on upbeat “good” news “has failed miserably.” But given the current economic environment, there are signs it might work this time around. Williams’ ratings have been solid in recent weeks since he started the “good news” items and the show has been flooded with ideas for his newscast’s positive spotlight stories. (Williams’ show is already No. 1 among the three evening newscasts, averaging about 9.2 million viewers.)

“The turnout factor on bad news has reached a level that this approach might actually start resonating,” Castengera said. “You just can’t sugarcoat things. That can backfire.” If a station is doing it as a ratings ploy, he said, it won’t work either. There has to be a fundamental shift in the newsroom and leadership to work.

A couple of years ago, WGCL-TV introduced “Better Mornings” from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m., eliminating all hard news save for weather and traffic. The light frothy show has not gotten any real ratings traction just yet, often pulling in less than 10 percent of the audience WSB-TV gets at that time.

CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

-Reporter Adam Murphy of WGCL-TV received a commendation last week from the Georgia House for his work reporting unreasonably high City of Atlanta water bills and meter reading problems that caused them. He helped get the City of Atlanta to fix the problems much quicker. The House even held a legislative hearing and the station’s coverage helped the state recover more than $808,000 in over-billed charges.

Here’s the press release:

Adam became aware of serious billing errors charged to water customers, along with hundreds of viewers asking for help, and began investigating the source of the problems. After asking the tough questions, he found some customers had their water cut off through no fault of their own. Adam began informing the public and government officials of the situation and aired special reports on CBS Atlanta News.

“I am extremely proud of Adam’s efforts regarding this story,” stated Steve Schwaid, CBS Atlanta Director of News and Digital Content. “This just goes to show how much of a voice, we, the media, have in helping out the community. We will continue to be a voice, and help those in need.”

-”ER” finale ratings was 16.2 million viewers Thursday, far above the season average of about 9 million viewers but a distant cry from the show’s peaks in the 1990s when it averaged 25 to 30 million viewers a week.

8 comments Add your comment

bulldogbubba

April 6th, 2009
8:19 am

Good news reporting is what any station should strive for.CBS46 wnats to ask the “tough questions” but all the reporters look like they are mad at the world.As a viewer i see enough mad people at work, on the road and other places.It is like we strive to beat down people and claim victory for their plight.You can say 11Alive news may be “softer” but i like to see reporters who smile and Ted,Brenda,Paul and Fred laugh at themselves.Channel’s 2 and 5 are ok but i am tired on John and Monica[who is fake] and Russ and Amanda[who looks like she doesn’t want to be there and slouches at the desk.So Rodney please tell 11Alive to keep up the good work!!

Jacqui

April 6th, 2009
10:16 am

Bob is clueless. The last man or woman in Atlanta who should be leading a station into an uncertain time. He has been the station manager for more than a decade. 11 has always been a bottom. He is more interested in the perks of the job. Why doesn’t the company that owns WXIA make a change?

Bobby

April 6th, 2009
11:20 am

46 is the hard working scrappy operation. The others are all fat, arrogant and lazy.

Bobby

April 6th, 2009
11:21 am

Enter your comments here

Christopher Cook

April 6th, 2009
1:13 pm

The stigma about these promos of the stations “asking the hard questions” is that is shows all the same thing–the questioned give no answer. They either walk by the camera and mic or they slam their door. How is that supposed to lend credibility to a newscast?

Newster

April 6th, 2009
10:46 pm

11Alive Clear News.

“I can see clearly now the rain is gone…”

Southern Bella

April 7th, 2009
1:47 pm

Rodney, it’s iNput…

who cares

April 8th, 2009
7:59 am

I won’t watch WSB TV because Monica is an offshoot of Oprah. She only reports on black News and gets all giddy when she reports on black items or is interviewing black people. It appears to me that in her close ups, she is not as enthusiastic when she interviews a white person. Oprah, is an outright BIGOT in my opinion by saying she is free at last when Obama was elected. And then sends her money to AFRICA while making money here off her WHITE employers. BOYCOTT Monica and Oprah. In my opinion two allegedly oppressed anti american women that need to get on Air Africa and LEAVE for ever. Drop your passports off at the gate ladies. And good Riddance! for the record I have only seen 4 broadcasts, and 4 interviews. All the SAME!