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Journalism Ethics

Milwaukee Stations Admit Staffers Signed Petitions to Recall Wisconsin Governor

News employees from at least three Milwaukee stations signed petitions to recall Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s controversial Republican governor.

WISN and WITI confirmed to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Wednesday that some of their employees signed the recall petitions.

WISN and WITI came forward after WTMJ reported during its Tuesday evening newscasts that several of its employees, including one on-air figure, signed the petitions.

“Station management wants you to know they consider this a serious issue,” WTMJ anchor Mike Jacobs told viewers on Tuesday.  “The station is in the process of dealing with it internally.” Read more

KTXL Ditches Man on the Street, Interviews Staff for Reactions Instead

The reactions were the same but the setting was definitely different.

In a story this week about a controversial poster displayed at the local highway patrol academy, Sacramento Fox-affiliate KTXL featured reactions from its own staff, including the assignment manager, shot in the station’s newsroom.

One staffer interviewed for the story by reporter Rowena Shaddox even wore a lanyard with the logo of KTXL’s owner, Tribune, while standing in front of a wall displaying the station’s “FOX 40″ logo, leaving little doubt about his background. Video inside… Read more

WGRZ Stops Showing Video of Girls with Tics; ND Jeff Woodard Calls Decision ‘A Great Journalistic Debate’

Buffalo NBC-affiliate WGRZ will stop showing video of a group of local high school girls affected by a mysterious disorder that makes them twitch and tic, the station announced this week.

More than a dozen students at LeRoy High School have developed the symptoms, which some doctors say indicate a psychological condition brought on by stress. WGRZ has been covering the story since it broke in November, news director Jeff Woodard says.

“We hear over and over from doctors that all the media attention doesn’t help them,” Woodard tells TVSpy.

Citing a desire to be “upfront” with viewers, Woodard says, the station discussed the decision on three separate newscasts this week. He calls the issue “a great journalistic debate” and says he can see both sides of the issue.

“I don’t know if this is something we should be doing or something we shouldn’t be doing,” he says. “It’s something we felt like doing as members of the community.” Read more

Local Newspaper Wrestles with Coverage of ‘Drunk’ KEYC Anchor

In a recent column, the managing editor of the Mankato Free Press wrestled with whether the newspaper appropriately covered the tribulations of KEYC anchor Annie Stensrud, following her erratic behavior during a newscast in early December.

After video of Stensrud’s seemingly drunk delivery went viral and made her the butt of jokes on “Late Show with David Letterman,” she was arrested and charged for drunk driving.  The Free Press covered all of these developments.

“We had a healthy debate on this in our newsroom,” Free Press editor Joe Spear wrote.  “Some argued we shouldn’t really be hiding this event because, after all, alcohol abuse was, and probably still is, a huge issue in this town. Others argued we don’t cover every DWI in this way.” Read more

News Director Peggy Phillip Explains Why KSHB Reported Don Harman’s Suicide

Peggy Phillip, the news director at Kansas City NBC-affiliate KSHB, writes on the RTDNA website about her station’s decision to report WDAF meteorologist Don Harman‘s suicide. Although all three WDAF rival stations reported the story, only KSHB’s coverage went into detail, detailing Harman’s struggle with depression for viewers:

We led our 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. newscasts with profile pieces on Harman followed by information to inform our viewers about warning signs and trends as well as suicide prevention telephone numbers.  We tried to keep in mind how we would react if he were another local celebrity, like the Chiefs quarterback or prominent politician.  It wasn’t easy and the discussions were emotional.

We received a handful of critical messages from viewers after our early evening news, complaining that the cause of death was not the public’s business and that we only reported it to make our competition “look bad.”  One suggested that WDAF “sue our asses.” Read more

WNYW’s Greg Kelly Interviews NYC Police Commissioner (His Dad) About Terror Arrest

WNYW had New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly in the studio this morning for an exclusive interview about the weekend arrest of a terror suspect who allegedly plotted to detonate bombs throughout the city.

The interview meant that WNYW morning anchor Greg Kelly would be questioning someone he’s been answering to his whole life: his dad.

At the end of the nearly nine-minute long interview–which included some terse answers from the police commissioner to his son’s questions–the younger Kelly awkwardly mentioned their connection.  Video inside… Read more

Fighting a Proposed Strip Club Next Door, WSVN Relentlessly Covers Opposition to It

A planning and zoning committee in South Florida made a significant ruling this week, at least according to Fox-affiliate WSVN.

A developer is trying to build a strip club next door to WSVN and the committee unanimously voted against the proposed gentleman’s club on Tuesday night. While WSVN has provided extensive coverage of the decision this week, its market rivals have devoted zero airtime to the strip club “controversy.”

Following a story from veteran reporter Patrick Fraser that all but urged viewers to attend Tuesday’s meeting, WSVN has covered the committee’s decision during all of its newscasts over the past 24 hours. Read more

Locked in Legal Battle with Developer, WSVN Runs Negative Story About a Proposed Strip Club Next Door

WSVN is so concerned about a developer’s plans to build a strip club next to its headquarters that the station ran a story about it this week in which WSVN owner Ed Ansin called the planned gentleman’s club “extremely dangerous” for his female employees.

“There are many instances, both with our station and elsewhere, of women in television being stalked, harassed, threatened,” Ansin said in an interview.  “Having a strip club would certainly be a major problem in that regard.”

WSVN used to share its property with WIOD but the news radio station moved out awhile ago and now a local developer plans to create a new five-story building that would house a strip club. Read more

Bill Kurtis Smears Herman Cain Accuser Sharon Bialek, a Former CBS Employee, on Chicago Radio

Citing what he heard “in the elevator at work,” legendary WBBM anchor Bill Kurtis discredited Herman Cain accuser Sharon Bialek in a conversation last week on WLS-AM.

Speaking as a guest on WLS’s “The Roe Conn Show,” Kurtis said that Bialek, who worked for CBS in Chicago from 2006-2007, “has a history.”

“There’s a lot more to this story,” Kurtis said of Bialek’s account of sexual harrassment. “I ride in the elevator at work and I hear very quickly a different kind of story.” Read more

Longtime Anchor Bob Hite Returns to WFLA, Trading on Career to Pitch Health Care

Longtime anchor Bob Hite has returned to WFLA.  Sort of.

Hite, who was a fixture at the WFLA anchor desk for three decades before retiring in 2007, is now hosting a half-hour infomercial airing on the NBC-affiliate.

In the “special broadcast” from local health care provider Optimum Health Care, Hite promotes the company’s Medicare Advantage plan by trading on his long career as a journalist.

“As a news anchor and photojournalist, I’ve spent over 40 years researching and reporting stories I felt were important to improve people’s lives,” Hite says in the infomercial, before declaring his commitment to helping people understand the medicare system. Read more

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