The biggest, best love story in the country was on local TV today. It's between the Baltimore Ravens, the city and the fans.
And if the national sports networks like CBS never seemed to get the special nature of that relationship this year in their weekly game and playoff coverage, most of the local media do. And Baltimore's TV stations got a chance to zoom in for close-up coverage Tuesday of the epic Ravens victory parade and rally in downtown Baltimore.
That does not mean all local coverage was equal, as the four affiliate or network-owned stations blew out about four hours of mid-day programming to go all-hands-on-deck-live in coverage ranging from City Hall, to the parade route and into M&T Bank Stadium.
In fact, there was some pretty awful local reporting. After a year of calling out the networks for their bad coverage, I think the Z on TV venom tank might be tapped out.
So, I am not going to name names. But it made my blood boil to see reporters using fans as props. Telling fans to give a cheer or start singing and whooping when the cameras are pointed at them is both stupid and insensitive, and there was plenty of it.
And having your reporters wear purple scarves or stand on corners and act like crowd cheerleaders, which is what I saw too much of from WMAR during the parade, isn't enough. Really.
The other thing that annoyed me, and it has been building for weeks, involves veteran reporters acting like they are buddies with the players, referring to Terrell Suggs, for example, as T-Sizzle and calling out to him on the parade route.
OK, so much for letting the love flow and not naming names, that would be WBAL's Rob Roblin I am referring to with the T-Sizzle talk. I have liked a lot of Roblin's work over the years, but I think he and some of the other WBAL veterans, maybe because the radio station has broadcast rights to the games, act a little too much like they are on the inside with the Ravens or in the know -- when they are not.
That said, WBAL also had much of the best coverage Tuesday. From great helicopter shots of the massive congestion downtown in advance of the parade, to some of the most enterprising and perfectly pitched big-event reporting I have ever seen.
That outstanding work was done by WBAL's Deborah Weiner, who found an entrance area at M&T Bank Stadium, and stationed herself there just before the trucks, Humvees and floats carrying the Ravens arrived from the parade for the rally.
As a result, she got one-on-one interviews with John Harbaugh, Ray Rice, Jim Caldwell and others. And she got them in an almost private space, so you could hear what was actually being said.
And because she's been around a while, Weiner hit the perfect tone between being aggressive and too friendly.
The one player she couldn't get to stop and talk was Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco who she called out to in her best friendly reporter's voice for all she was worth. Flacco, however, wasn't coming hither. But she even turned that into a little self-deprecating fun as she started to follow him.
"I'm a bit of a stalker now," she told viewers as she quickened her step.
WJZ's Adam May also separated himself from the pack with his parade reporting. Instead of standing on a corner, he got out on the street and got exclusive information for his station.
When Ravens safety Ed Reed left his Humvee to walk in the street with the Lombardi Trophy so that fans could touch it, May ran up and walked with him capturing the excitement in the street.
When a Humvee with another Raven in it slowed down, May ran alongside and asked for a quote. And then, to make sure viewers heard the quote, he tossed his Channel 13 microphone up to the player.
A few moments later, May squeezed his way into the Humvee in which Suggs was riding to get a quote. Again, he handed Suggs the microphone as he hung on the side of the vehicle.
"If this is a dream, I will kill the person who wakes me," Suggs said, when asked how he feels.
There are reporters, and then there are reporters. Weiner and May were REPORTERS Tuesday.
WJZ and WBAL dominated coverage.
Kelly Groft, news director at WMAR, said the station had access to Washington station WJLA's helicopter, but I did not see any 'copter shots from the station in my channel hopping.
WBFF, the Fox affiliate, seemed the least connected to the day's events. At one point, they split the screen to give a shot of the crowd at M&T Bank Stadium in one half, while the second half carried an interview with Ed Reed that was done by the NFL Network after Sunday's game.
In that interview, Reed talked mostly about growing up near New Orleans, which seemed to have almost nothing to do with what was happening in Baltimore Tuesday.
When you have the kind of massive and unexpected crowd we had Tuesday in downtown Baltimore, and it is filled with such deep emotion, you shouldn't be running days-old, mostly irrelevant videotape. The story is big, it's now and it's ours.