Channel 11 Alive, WXIA-TV in Atlanta, is fond of its slogan "Holding the Powerful Acountable" -- and, indeed, has done a respectable job of living up to that slogan -- EXCEPT WHEN IT COMES TO 11 ALIVE ITSELF! For a number of years, their former News Director was responsive to viewership concerns as to their coverage, and rightfully so. It was gratifying to actually see programming changes as a result. Judging from 11 Alive's misguided recent attempt to somewhat-justify in-school child abuse, however, that is no longer the case.
Not too long ago, that former news director got bumped up the corporate ladder and sort-of forgot how to use the computer at that point, as viewer concerns were only belatedly and very reluctantly forwarded on to the new News Director. My suggestion that at least an auto-acknoweldgement be adopted, so that viewers would know that their comments had been received, has been totally ignored. It is as if comments fall into a black hole, and are then spirited off to some galaxy far, far away from Atlanta and 11 Alive.
Take, for example, the issue of the growing endless crime coverage on 11 Alive, apparently in a misguided effort to compete with the other Atlanta TV stations as to lurid, gross, and often overstated stories of drug deals gone bad, babies murdered, women carjacked, and so on. After a number of emails specifying these concerns, the new News Director did finally write back to me -- once -- and listed a couple of more-inspiring stories. All well and good, except that continuous monitoring of their coverage has been reported to the new News Director by this media professional, a former newspaper publisher -- but apparently totally ignored. So, let us consider the most recent 11 Alive blunder:
There is a segment titled Brenda's Last Word, named after their news anchor Brenda who does editorials which are often not well thought out, and not well presented. So, just last night, here was Brenda busily justifying the unjustifiable: the South Carolina sheriff's deputy and school resource officer who brutally pulled a student out of her chair and body-slammed her against the floor over some petty resistance to an order to leave class. Brenda told us viewers we should see the other side of the picture, i.e. that schools are out-of-control and we have to do something to take charge of them. That "do something" theory is a very slippery slope and tends to justify a host of unjustifiable action which escalate situations, particularly when law enforcers "do something" wrong.
Here is a flash, Brenda: CHILD ABUSE IS NEVER ACCEPTABLE, particularly not when it comes from a law enforcer who is supposedly trained to behave professionally. The sheriff in South Carolina felt so much the same way that he fired this deputy after a quick investigation. There are no two sides to such abuse, Brenda, anymore than there are two sides to domestic violence or those baby shootings which 11 Alive loves to cover. If WXIA TV really believes in "Holding the Powerful Accountable", the channel should start internally, including starting to really respond to viewer concerns. Responsibility, like charity, begins at home.