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WFTV Reporter Berndt Petersen Leaves for Atlanta

Picture 1Berndt Petersen, known as a voice of reason in an increasingly chaotic local TV world, has bolted Orlando ABC affiliate WFTV for sister station WSB in Atlanta, also an ABC affiliate.

Petersen, who worked at WFTV for ten years, departed earlier this month, according to the Orlando Sentinel‘s Hal Boedeker:

That beaming-up to Atlanta was deserved because Petersen is a gifted journalist. In his career, he noted that has won three Edward R. Murrow Awards, six Emmys and two dozen honors from The Associated Press. He also has worked at stations in Birmingham, Charleston and Paducah, Ky.

I worked with Berndt in Orlando and in Birmingham; he’s a true gentleman, a great reporter and profoundly gifted storyteller. It’s a big loss for WFTV and a nice gain for WSB.

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WOFL Adds Reporter and Meteorologist

WOFL130Brooks Tomlin and Ann Keil will join Orlando FOX owned station WOFL next Monday.

Tomlin will be the weekend evening and morning meteorologist, while Keil will report for the station.

Tomlin comes to the station from Perth, Australia where he worked for the Commercial Weather Services of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. He’s also worked at local TV stations in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Huntsville and Jacksonville.

Keil comes from WXIN in Indianapolis where she has worked as a general assignment and an investigative reporter. She started her career at WATE in Knoxville, TN.

‘We’ve Gotta Go,’ Lightning Strikes During WESH Reporter’s Live Shot

WESH reporter Dave McDaniel was live on-air telling viewers of the Orlando NBC affiliate about a house that was hit by lightning when, the station says, another lightning strike came a little too close for comfort.

Watch the video. You can hear it, but can’t see it.

Report: Texas Mother Not First to Accuse KHOU Reporter of Unethical Behavior

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As we’ve reported, a mother has sued Houston CBS station KHOU, claiming she was falsely accused in a news story of locking her child in a hot car while she got a haircut:

KHOU reported on the incident July 15 based on a witness who said shoppers “took matters into their own hands,” smashing the car window with a hammer while their mother, Araceli Cisneros, was inside the mall. In reality, Cisneros had actually accidentally locked the children — and her car keys — in the car, and had asked for help in smashing the windows to get them.

The lawsuit accuses KHOU and reporter Rucks Russell with a “reckless disregard” for the truth and with failing to do the “most basic fact checking.”

According to a story posted to community news site Covering Katy, it’s not the first time Russell’s been involved in an ethical controversy:

In 1998 while working in Florida for (Orlando ABC affiliate) WFTV Russell was suspended while his employer investigated his relationship with a woman who was a key witness in a murder case.

According to the Orlando Sentinel there were questions about how Russell obtained his information while reporting on the case. “Defense attorneys wanted to ask Russell about information he may have obtained through a friendship with the suspect’s wife, Angel Huggins,” according to the article.

Russell was later cleared by his employer and allowed to return to work, but his stay at WFTV didn’t last much longer. The Orlando Sentinel reported Russell left the station to “pursue other interests” the following year.

Martha Sugalski Leaves WESH in Orlando

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Orlando NBC affiliate WESH announced today anchor Martha Sugalski has left the station. The Orlando Sentinel quoted WESH general manager Jim Carter:

“Martha Sugalski has been an important member of the WESH News Team. While we made every effort to keep her at the station, she ultimately decided to move in a different direction and we thank her for her contributions during the past eight years.”

Sugalski joined WESH from WTVJ in Miami in 2006, and has been the station’s main anchor since 2008. The station invested heavily in promoting Sugalski’s personal story a year ago, when she became pregnant with triplets, who were born last June. In recent months, ratings for WESH have been highly competitive — beating longtime market leader WFTV at six p.m., suggesting Sugalski may have been poached by another Orlando station, as Hal Bodeker reports:

One rumor sweeping the local media has Sugalski going to WFTV-Channel 9.

“I really can’t comment on that,” said WFTV General Manager Shawn Bartelt. “We don’t comment on competitors’ talent, contracts. We just don’t. She’s very talented. We wish her the very best, We know she’s going to have a great future.”

‘Post-Newsweek’ Name Retired, Company Now ‘Graham Media Group’

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Post-Newsweek Stations announced today the company would now be known as Graham Media Group, effective immediately. The name change comes after the sale of The Washington Post to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. The company owns five television stations, WJXT in Jacksonville, WDIV in Detroit, KPRC in Houston, KSAT in San Antonio, and WKMG in Orlando.

In a statement, Emily Barr, president and CEO of Graham Media Group, said the new name was a better fit for the company:

“Much like our parent company, Graham Holdings, this new name better reflects the diversity of our creative and innovative company,” said Emily Barr, president and CEO of Graham Media Group. “We provide our communities with the best local news, programming and critical information, delivered on-air, on-line and on-demand, via our television stations, websites and social media, as well as 90 news, weather and community-focused mobile apps. In addition, we have recently made a strategic investment in Storm Pins, a crowd-sourced, social weather and breaking news app that connects you to your community, and we continue to look for ways to expand our reach into local communities through innovative digital media and web-based communications.”

Miami station WPLG, previously a Post-Newsweek station, was sold this year to Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway

Orlando Reporter’s Book to Become Sandra Bullock Movie

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Leave it to WESH reporter Bob Kealing to tell a story so compelling, it’s slated to become a Sandra Bullock film. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sony has acquired Kealing’s book about Central Florida businesswoman Brownie Wise, who made Tupperware into a major brand in the 1950′s:

Tupperware was originally developed by Earl Silas Tupper but took off in the 1950s when sales exec Wise came up with the idea of having Tupperware parties. Soon those gatherings were sweeping the nation, and Wise became as popular as the product she was selling. In 1954, she became the first woman to appear on the cover of Businessweek.

The film is set to star Bullock as Wise, and be directed by Tate Taylor, best known for directing “The Help”. “I’m honored that two artists at the top of their careers like Sandra Bullock and Tate Taylor are embracing this story,” Kealing told The Orlando Sentinel on Saturday.

Florida Rape Suspect Rips Mic from Hands of WFTV Reporter

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WFTV reporter Renee Stoll was waiting with questions when a Florida pastor, Pedro Custodio, left jail. Custodio, known as “Pastor Pete”, is accused of raping at least three women who had been clients at an Orlando-area homeless shelter.

“Pastor Pete” quickly tired of Stoll’s questions and grabbed the microphone from her hands and threw it–all of which was caught on video by Stoll’s photographer. “That’s assault,” she said.

Watch it, via Crooks and Liars:

Lauren Johnson Moving to Philly From Orlando

Lauren JohnsonLauren Johnson is joining WTXF, the Fox-owned station in Philadelphia. Johnson will be hosting the station’s weekend morning newscasts when they launch this fall.

It is a move within Fox for Johnson, who is a weekend anchor for “Good Day Orlando” on WOFL. She was previously the morning co-anchor on WHBQ, the Fox-owned station in Memphis. She started her television career in 2003 at Central Florida News 13 in Orlando.

Jackie Orozco Apologizes For Posting ‘Smiling’ Picture at Murder Scene

WOFL reporter Jackie Orozco has apologized on Twitter for posting a picture at the scene of a double homicide over the weekend.

Orozco, who has worked at Fox-owned WOFL in Orlando since 2013, posted a picture of her and her photographer at the scene with the caption: “So why are we smiling in front of a crime scene? Because we work in the news and it’s my Friday! #ReporterProblems”

See the photo after the jump. Read more

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