WFAA8's decidedly different David Schechter (and that's a good thing)
04/27/12 01:39 PM
By ED BARK
David Schecter is distinctly different. Not in a loose cannon way, but in a way that prompts me to say, "Why can't more TV reporters be this way?"
He's been at Dallas-based WFAA8 since September 2006. And his Clark Kent-ish appearance, previously noted in these spaces, does not mask an ability to leap over tall buildings in a single bound after emerging from a phone booth.
But Schechter does know how to report on the fly while also showing a knack for settling in with a subject for a nicely tuned feature.
His instincts aren't always fool-proof. His illustrative uses of Barbie dolls back in 2008 were painful to behold. Perhaps he was foolishly trying to one-up colleague Brad Watson's doll-athon during the 2006 Texas gubernatorial campaign.
Far more often than not, though, Schechter stands out in a good way. His November 2010 story, on a mourning Hunt County dog named Spot , had an instant classic feel to it. He's a stylist with substance, a guy who really tries to bring something different to the table without over-turning it.
Schechter also has a personal blog called Sheckmo.com, to which he contributes sporadically. I hadn't seen it until he tweeted this week: "Fighting my way through a news funk." He included a companion link to Sheckmo, in which his short blog post began, "It happens two or three times a year. A sinking feeling that has a way of sneaking up on me. What is it? The sense that a good story will never come along again."
That's an eye-catcher. And also uncommonly introspective. So I tweeted back, "I know the feeling at times, David. Can you arrange a big WFAA personnel shift & then leak it to me? JUST kidding!!!"
Schechter played along with this reply: "We are getting a Chip Moody avatar. But you didn't hear it here."
He referred to the late WFAA8 anchor who also previously worked at KDFW-TV and KXAS-TV before fighting a long losing battle with Hodgkins Disease. Moody died in late December of 2001, well before Schechter arrived at WFAA8. So he has a sense of history as well as a sharp wit. And believe me, Moody would have appreciated the reference.
Schechter's Sheckmo post underscored the very real insecurities that grip many a reporter or anchor, both at the local and national level. It reminded me of the time a veteran actor told me of the time he witnessed Jimmy Stewart sobbing after he had completed work on another picture. What was wrong? Stewart said he feared that this was it, that no one would ever want him again for another role. Stewart was in the prime of his career at the time, but he wasn't at all kidding.
Schechter wrote that his own sinking feeling "happened again last week and I spent my lunch time shuffling around downtown Dallas like a zombie. To me there is nothing more exciting in the world than chasing down a big story . . . But when a high ends there's nowhere to go but down. As many times as I've been around the block, somehow it still surprises me that after every great feast there's still a famine. A time when my story coffers are empty and I wonder if they'll ever fill up again."
But in the end, "another challenging story has always come along," Schechter wrote. "When I felt that old funk come on last week, it helped to trust in that truth. I tried to relax into the uncertainty. Then, after some anxious hours I plopped down on my desk, brushed off a dusty idea, made a few calls, held the thing up to the light and realized -- there might be something interesting here."
All of which makes him one of the more interesting and insightful reporters in this market. A guy who knows how to mess around and when to settle in. A guy whom I've never met personally but feel as though I know.