Archive for the ‘TV News’ Category

Taking Pictures Like a Pro

September 14, 2008
  Millions of people take millions of photos all over the world every day, but very few of them make money at it, or do it as an art. Herb and Jim Cawthorne of Columbus, Georgia, are among the very few who make money at it. Both of them take pictures for Camera 1. Lee Brantley, V.P. and General Manager of WTVM-TV, makes a a little money at it, but he does it mainly as an art form.                                                 
  Herb was working as a stock broker in Columbus when one picture changed his life.  As a freelance photographer, he covered the Auburn-L.S.U. game in 1972, shooting this picture. It won the 1972 AP Best Sports Photograph award.   

 Auburn-LSU 1973, Associated Press Best Sports Photo Award Winner, Courtesy Herb Cawthorne, Camera 1

           Courtesy: Herb Cawthorne, Camera 1  

  He says he enjoyed that experience so much that he decided to become a full-time professional photographer, teamed up with Spencer Garrard and they opened Camera 1, which has been in business since then.  Eventually, Garrard, who now teaches at Columbus State University, sold his half to Herb, who recently turned over the business to his son Jim, though Herb still shoots for Camera 1 and has an office there. 

  Both of them love their work, just as the millions of amateurs love to take pictures. But, they make money for doing it. What separates them from the amateurs? Herb says,  “I’m better at it than most people.  Just as our professional designation indicates,  CPP is ‘Certified Professional Photographer.’ We put in a great deal of study and passed a professional standards examination, just like CPA’s (Certified Public Accountants), to get this designation.”

  He also does it because he like to record history, illustrated by this picture of the old Muscogee County Court House sitting in front of the new Columbus Government Center. The old courthouse was demolished and only the Government Center is left.

 Herb Cawthorne, Camera 1)

Muscogee County Courthouse (Courtesy: Herb Cawthorne, Camera 1)


Son Jim says, ” The satisfaction is the photography itself.  It is always interesting, never boring and rarely the same.  I have been photographing seriously since the age of 16 and have never tired of  the excitement or challenges.  You meet a wide variety of people and get to experience an even wider assortment of life.”

  This is one of his most satisfying shots. He took it at a training exercise at Fort Benning.  Jim said, “This soldier was the top gunner in his class and he got to shoot the real Javelin. The other students got to watch from a distance.  He hit the tank at about a mile away.  I got my photo by a combination of preparation and pure luck.”

Jim Cawthorne, Camera 1)

Javelin Missle Firing (Courtesy: Jim Cawthorne, Camera 1)

  The picture is going on permanent display at the new National Infantry Museum when it opens in March of 2009.

  Lee Brantley does a different type of photography. He does occasionally sell some of pictures at art shows, but he shoots them for the personal satisfaction. He is not just an amatuer photographer, though.  He has a degree in Commercial Art from Auburn University and started his career as a graphic designer.  

  “Over the years,” he says, “my art interest focused on photography. My graphic training and tendency can be seen in my photography as I tend to shoot details and odd perspectives, not landscapes and pretty scenery.”

  As we look at some of his work, we get the feeling that he is “painting” with a camera.

Lee Brantley)

(Courtesy: Lee Brantley)


 Lee says, “I enjoy showing at a local or regional show occasionally and I have several ‘Best of Show’ ribbons to show for it. I even sell a photo or two at most shows. I also do my own matting and framing.”

Lee Brantley)

(Courtesy: Lee Brantley)

  He reluctantly switched from film to digital photography. “I recently donated my traditional chemical darkroom to The Britt David Studios and finally made the digital transition by assembling a ‘digital darkroom.’ ”

  So that gives you an idea of what separates amateurs like us from the pros and the artists. Well, now, wait a minute. Back in my early days of TV reporting, I shot thousands of feet of 16mm movie film,  and I got paid for it so that makes me a pro too! So there!



August 24, 2008

  At one time the radio and TV networks covered the Republican and Democratic National Conventions gavel to gavel. Over time they cut back, but continued to give a lot of coverage. Now coverage is limited.  But, not on C-SPAN. Also, cable news coverage will be extensive, but C-SPAN is where I’ll be a lot of the time because that’s where you get floor actions unfiltered. Talkative network and cable news commentators won’t be giving you their perspective of what it’s all about. C-SPAN will feature some analysis and telephone call-in programs getting viewers views, but that happens only when the convention isn’t in session.  I’ll be watching C-CPAN a lot. However, I will sample the networks and cable news channels some to see what spin they are putting on things.

Dee’s Goodbye Party at the Bennett’s

June 30, 2008

  It was an afternoon and evening for sharing memories in the backyard of Wayne and Betty Bennett’s Harris County home. They, with the help of WTVM anchor-reporter Semone Doughton, held a farewell party for departing anchor Dee Armstrong.  About 55 co-workers, former co-workers and family and friends came to the barbeque. 



Wayne Bennett and Dee Armstrong

 Wayne Bennett and Dee Armstrong


  Her contract with the station expires at the end of the year. She has filed a civil rights suit against the station. Her last broadcast was on the 6 p.m. Monday news.  That was not the main subject of conversation. It was an evening of fun and laughter, and as I said, for remembering.


   I first met Dee in 1977 when I hired her as a reporter and weekend anchor for WRBL-TV. I was news director as well as the evening news anchor. She was just out of high school. She knew the basics of reporting, having had a good teacher, my old friend Ed Wilson. He had hired her as a reporter for WDAK radio when she was still in high school.  What she didn’t know was reporting with pictures. We were using 16mm film at the time.  She learned how to do that rapidly.


  She worked at WRBL for a few years, and then got a job with at a Green Bay, Wisconsin station.  Her executive producer there was Steve Faust, the first news director I worked with at WTVM. (I worked with a lot of news directors at WTVM.  Every time the station would change ownership, it would change news directors, and sometimes in between.  The station changed ownership four different times during the 15 years I worked there.) She got a leave of absence to come home to Columbus when her father was dying, and, instead of going back to Green Bay, ended up in Atlanta, where she got married and went to Georgia State University. Tragically, she lost her first husband to a high-rise building construction accident.


  However, she ended up working for Steve Faust again when he hired her as a reporter right after I switched stations in 1986.  She was only there a short time before my co-anchor Rebecca Todd left. That’s when the station decided to make her my co-anchor. Wayne Daughtery, manager at the time, asked me what I thought about the idea. I told him I thought it was a good idea and would work.


  It did. Our ratings, which were already quite high – we were the undisputed ratings leader – got even higher over time.  At one point we got a fifty share, which is almost unheard of, especially considering that so many choices had become available on cable TV. No station in Columbus – or probably anywhere else – comes near that now.



Dick McMichael and Dee Armstrong

 Dick McMichael and Dee Armstrong


  When I retired from anchoring in 2000, we were still on top by a good margin. After that, I continued for a year in a public affairs capacity. In what was called  a corporate-wide layoff – Raycom owns almost 50 stations – I was laid off after that year, but asked to come back shortly afterwards to do some special news projects and documentaries, which I did.


 Now, after 22 years on top at WTVM, her broadcasting career closes. She told me she will become more immersed in her financial services career and has some other projects in mind. She started learning the financial services business when, as she told me, “I saw the handwriting on the wall.”


  Welcome to life after TV, Dee. It’s not bad – a lot slower, but not bad. .



Paul, Bob,Dick,Dee,Dave


Left to right:  Paul Therrien, WTVM pohotographer; Bob Jeswald, WRBL (former WTVM) weathercaster; Dick McMichael, retired WTVM (former WRBL) news anchor; Dee Armstrong, departing WTVM anchor; Dave Platta, WTVM sports director and anchor.