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Journalism Ethics

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

Kansas City Stations Refuse to Share Raw Footage with Investigators in Lisa Irwin Case

After receiving grand jury subpoenas requesting that they share video footage connected to the disappearance of 10-month-old Lisa Irwin, Kansas City stations plan to cooperate with investigators but are making an important distinction: they will submit footage that has aired but will not hand over raw footage, as the Clay County prosecutor’s office has requested.

Jim Roberts, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, told the Associated Press this week that the subpoenas were intended to prevent KMBC, KCTVKSHB, and WDAF from discarding footage of the girl’s family and neighbors. Read more

Grand Jury Subpoenas K.C. Stations, Requesting Footage of Missing Girl’s Family and Neighbors

Kansas City TV stations received grand jury subpoenas on Monday evening as local police ramped up their search for Lisa Irwin, the 10-month-old girl who went missing last week.

The Clay County Prosecutor’s Office served subpoenas to KMBC, KCTV, KSHB, and WDAF, requesting that the stations share raw footage of interviews conducted with family, neighbors, and family friends of the missing girl after she disappeared from her crib in the late evening/early morning of October 3rd/4th.

All of the stations are currently consulting with attorneys about the subpoenas and it is unclear if they will ultimately share footage with investigators. At least two of the stations–KCTV and KSHB–have been ordered to bring their footage to the Clay County Courthouse next Tuesday, the 18th at 9:00 a.m. Read more

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