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Court Rules WTMJ Did Not Violate Bus Driver’s Privacy With On-Camera Confrontation

WTMJ_BusDriver_Koebel

A state appeals court has ruled that WTMJ, the NBC affiliate in Milwaukee, did not violate a school bus driver’s privacy when investigative reporter Robert Koebel confronted her on-camera about a past prostitution conviction.

The report, which aired in April of last year, was an investigative report about about Milwaukee school bus drivers who had criminal records. The station obtained the information through an open-records request and then used police reports to identify people who had been convicted of a crime. After the report aired, the bus driver, Melissa Dumas, was fired. She sued Koebel and WTMJ’s parent company, Journal Communications, alleging invasion of privacy.

According to the Associated Press, a lower court ruled that the bus driver’s conviction was public record and WTMJ’s report was protected under the first amendment. The appeals court upheld the decision, saying that the information was “undoubtedly embarrassing” but also a “matter of public concern.”

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