Don’t Let Those Little Details Get in the Way of a Good Story

Real estate people will tell you it’s all about location, location, location. In the TV news business, location apparently isn’t that important to some folks. I was reminded of this by a letter to the editor in the Monday morning edition of the Commercial Appeal. It seems that a person in Whitehaven complained that people in the TV news business referred to some crime in South Memphis as occurring in Whitehaven. Now, in all fairness, it doesn’t help that Whitehaven IS in the SOUTH part of the city and the area known as South Memphis is NORTH OF Whitehaven. Yes, it can be confusing until you figure out the borders. That’s one of the problems you face when you hire producers and reporters new to the market and they don’t bother to learn or don’t care about the names of particular areas. Some might think you’re splitting hairs about whether an area is Whitehaven, Orange Mound, Downtown or Midtown or East Memphis or Germantown or Cordova or Bartlett. Unless of course you live there and some TV type has some sort of negative story they say occurred in your part of town when it in fact it didn’t. In addition to hurting the credibility of the reporter I found it didn’t help the credibility of the anchor who read the story intro. Often times when people complained about a story, they wanted to talk to that news person who read that story on the area. It was especially bad if the story in question was recorded for a CNN cut-in or some other cable segment because that meant it would run for hours unless corrected. It didn’t take me long to learn the borders of what was Oakhaven and and what was Whitehaven. As any producer or reporter I worked with can attest, I used to take them to task if they let things like this slide. I mean come on, if we got caught letting little facts like the location of something get by us, it raises questions about what other facts we might let slide in the name of a story. At WREG we used to have a big city map in the conference room with a breakdown of which areas were called what and it was even broken down into neighborhoods. Often times early morning producers were scrambling to put together three hours of newscasts and couldn’t get to the conference room to check the map while the reporter in the field often times didn’t have access to the info. If a veteran photog wasn’t there to offer location information, the reporter went with what he or she thought was right.

Some might think that the issue of whether some place is Whitehaven or South Memphis is no big deal but I tend to think it’s like being a little pregnant. Afterall, it’s not like there is already a credibility issue with the news business in general and the TV news business in particular.

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14 Comments on “Don’t Let Those Little Details Get in the Way of a Good Story”

  1. Jeff Says:

    Ive noticed my old neighborhood Frayser is referred to as North Memphis most of the time now by WMC and Wreg .Which is fine with me because the Frayser where I was raised is a slum now.

  2. Richard Says:

    I feel the same way about where I grew up….Whitehaven. Nothing like it was when I graduated Whitehaven High in 1970.

  3. Jeff Says:

    Just to make it clear to anyone reading I lived on the West Side of the Tracks,(Westside class of 1976),East Frayser still has a few areas with good people and nice homes,Hats off to them. My Dad (Morningside/Marsh area)before entering a Knoxville nursing home last year had his car Stolen three times and one home invasion robbery.My son just home from Iraq a couple of weeks last year was visiting his inlaws and was car jacked at gunpoint at Thomas and Frayser by a SUV carrying three men.So slum was a mild word to describe that area west of the tracks.

  4. JD Says:

    Hey Jeff or Richard:
    Remember the old Frayser Drive In? Krystal or Wat a burger? How about Claude and Mary’s enferno? How about fights with “the Squids” in the northgate parking lot? Bowling? Skating and hoping for an escapee from Deneuville Heights?

    Most of all who could forget Gail Stone (Stanton)? And her afghan hound? The girl from Frayser who made Playboy!!! God rest her soul.

    Sorry Joe, just reminiscing a little. Maybe Channel 10 will do a Memphis Memories on Frayser!!!

  5. Richard Says:

    JD….I grew up in Whitehaven so Frayser was like a whole different part of the world to me back then. I lived in the Raleigh area off Egypt Central from 84 to 89 and even that area has changed since I migrated to N. MS.
    As far as drive-in’s go, mom and dad took us to the Bellvue(SP?) on Elvis Presley back in the day and I remember them playing Goerge Klein segments on the speakers. I also remember the old J C Harbins on old highway 51 back then.

  6. the tall tv guy Says:

    Things have changed in Hickory Hill the last ten years. Upscale homes just east of Kirby High back in the mid ’90s are now boarded up and abandoned.

    I’ve been to President’s Island recently and was surprised at the number of closed factory type buildings there and on Crump between I-55 and Third. It’s sad…you wonder what direction the city is headed in when you see so many empty, decaying structures.

  7. Ready Camera One, Take Two Says:

    Okay, Memory Lane is now a dirt road…I’ll chime in now, Whitehaven…
    Hi-Boy Restaurant, Manny & Karl’s, The Treasury (under the squiggly roof), Southland Mall, the giant Viking atop Hillcrest High School, McKellar Park, Bullfrog Corner (S’haven), and a tiny drive up burger place at Holmes and Millbranch that made great shakes…and more but those brain cells died.

  8. Richard Says:

    Yeah RCOTT!! I think that little place was called the “Freezeway” or something like that. My older brother worked there at the McLemore’s Market. I got my hair cut in the barber shop there by the old “Handy Pantry”.

  9. JD Says:

    Hey Joe….I apologize for hijacking your blog with the idea of trips down memory lane but there may be an idea here for you. Didn’t you say you know somebody with “Running Pony Productions”?

    Trivia question for you, being how you are a midtown resident: Where was Peter Pans’ Pantry?

    Have you also noticed that they no longer refer to the various police facilities as North, South, East, West, Etc.? I was told several years ago that media based their locations on these facilities.
    Stay Well!

  10. joelarkins Says:

    Actually I was able to follow some of the places you mentioned. On the topic of police facilities, it might be that some folks in the media don’t know East, West, and North from South.
    AS for Peter Pan’s Pantry, it’s still in the same building as Joe’s Liquors at the corner of Belvedere and Poplar. I have to admit, I haven’t set foot in there (PPP) since I quit smoking. Joe’s Liquor on the other hand…….

  11. gary Says:

    hey jd et al….im a 72 grad of the harvard of frayser[trezevant high…lol] and yes everything you said brings back great 40 yr old memories….i never owned a key to my parents house because i never needed one….though sadly those days are gone forever, once a year or so i take a memory drive through frayser when im in town and catch a glimpse of the ghosts of the boys and girls that we were.

    gary harrison
    brentwood tn

  12. Brad Says:

    Wow I remember the Hi-boy restaurant…

  13. Brad Alsobrook Says:

    I believe there was a H-boy on Mendenhall….. And I really wish we still had Wat-a-Burger

  14. Brad Alsobrook Says:

    Anyone remember Ollie’s Trolleys Hamburger stand?? It was behind where the OLD Half Shell used to be… I still can taste that spicy burger


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