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NYT: Undercover Reports on School Security Raise Ethical Questions

kirkwood_hsUsing the recent school scare caused by a reporter at KSDK as an example, The New York Times looks at the “broader questions about the ethical and practical implications” of undercover reporting on school security:

Jen Wilton, who has two sons at the [St. Louis] school, said she was frightened when one of them texted to tell her about the lockdown. The news station had crossed the line, she said. “They certainly didn’t do me any service,” she said. “I have a few more gray hairs because of it, and it terrified my kids and a lot of other kids.”

Critics say these kinds of undercover efforts do not provide an accurate portrait of school safety, and question whether they serve any public good. Some journalists question whether the news organizations become too much a part of the story, and whether it is dangerous for reporters to wander into schools now that students and staff are often on heightened alert. Read more

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Pioneering St. Louis TV Weatherman Howard DeMere Dies

demere ksdk obit wx boardHoward DeMere, the second TV weatherman in St. Louis, died Wednesday after a heart attack.

DeMere started at KSDK when it was the only station in town. He succeeded Jack Garrison who briefly forecast the weather before leaving for a sales job.

For 32 years, DeMere’s worked in St. Louis as a weathermen and then a reporter for KSDK and KSD radio (now KTRS).

In a 2010 feature, KSDK said DeMere “put television weather here on the map.” DeMere told the station, “The weather and the weather set. It started as a simple frame…wooden and covered with a piece of Plexiglass. Write on it with a china marking pencil then you went back over it with a pen and talked about it as you did so…” Read more

Lauren Trager Leaving KMOV After One Year

trager_kmovLauren Trager is leaving St. Louis CBS affiliate KMOV to work in a government job, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The Post-Dispatch reports Trager will be the public information officer for City of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce. She starts March 24.

Trager came to KMOV last year from Little Rock, AR, where she was a weekend anchor for NBC affiliate KARK.

Meet AquaFOX, the St. Louis FOX Station’s News Boat


With all the talk about covering news with airborne drones, St. Louis FOX affiliate KTVI has decided to swim against the tide by showing off its news boat.

yesterday, the station revealed AquaFOX, an Axis A24 wrapped in station branding.

KTVI news director Audrey Prywitch reminded TVSpy while St. Louis is in the middle of the country it is on the Mississippi River, and surrounded by many other rivers and lakes. She said possible stories to use the boat include flooding, predatory fish invading local rivers and lakes, drinking and boating stories and even a river view of the fireworks on July 4th.

In case you think the boat will be trolling lakes and rivers 24 hours a day, Prywitch said the station will call Stateamind Water Sports, the boating company they’ve partnered with, at least 24 hours ahead of time to ready the boat for use.

KMOV News Director Leaving Station for Job with Scripps

mclaughlin_croppedKMOV news director Sean McLaughlin has announced he is leaving the St. Louis CBS affiliate to become the VP of news for E.W. Scripps.

“I am very excited about Sean joining the Scripps team,” Brian Lawlor, Scripps’ SVP said in a statement. “Sean has a ton of energy and represents the leadership skills that motivate people to want to work hard and to want to win.”

McLaughlin told TVSpy his last day at KMOV is March 5. He starts at Scripps March 6.

Before coming to KMOV, McLaughlin was news director at KTUL in Tulsa, OK, from 2005-2007 and KOKI also in Tulsa from 2001-2005. He has also worked at WICS in Springfield, IL, and KAAL in Austin, MN.

[The St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

KSDK Apologizes For School Scare: ‘We Caused Undue Stress and Fear’

kirkwood_hsSt. Louis NBC affiliate KSDK has apologized for the station’s role in a lockdown at Kirkwood High School last week.

Veteran anchor Mike Bush delivered the apology on the 10 p.m. newscast Sunday. “We unnecessarily scared students, teachers and parents, and quite honestly, it doesn’t matter what our intentions were,” Bush said. “We caused undue stress and fear and we are very sorry this happened.”

Bush said KSDK’s general manager, Lynn Beall, had met with the Kirkwood superintendent to apologize in person. He also said the channel is “taking a hard look at how this happened what we could be doing differently to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

“I’ve been at channel 5 for almost 30 years and I’ve always been proud of the fact that everybody at our television station deeply cares about our community, that we do a lot of positive stories, that we try to take the high road. In reporting this school security story, we didn’t live up to our own standards and the standards that you deserve as viewers,” Bush said. “We can’t change the past, but our promise to you is, we will make every effort to make sure nothing like this will happen in the future.”

KSDK Issues Statement About School Scare

kirkwood_hsSt. Louis NBC affiliate KSDK has published a statement regarding today’s lockdown at a Missouri High School.

A station spokesperson told TVSpy the statement titled “NewsChannel 5 statement on school safety” has been posted to the station website.

NewsChannel 5 recognizes the importance of safety in our schools. As part of a continuing investigation this afternoon, we visited five local schools.

One of our employees assigned to this investigative report visited Kirkwood High School. He entered and walked his way toward the office, asking a teacher for directions after a few minutes. There, he asked if he might discuss the school’s security. He identified himself by name and gave the office his phone number.

When the security official could not be reached, our employee left the premises without escort.

Approximately an hour later – after our visit – the high school was put on lock down. This lock down certainly was not the intent of our visit.

We will report this story tonight on NewsChannel 5 at 10 p.m.

NewsChannel 5 will continue to be vigilant when it comes to the safety of our schools and your children within.

An earlier facebook post by a Kirkwood School District administrator mirrors the statement by KSDK explained. “An(sic) man came in and stated that he wanted to talk to security. He gave his name and cell number. When the secretary left to get the SRO, the person left the office and will not answer his phone. This initiated the lockdown.”

>UPDATE: The Kirkwood School District sent TVSpy a copy of a statement it sent to families and staff:

Dear KSD Families and Staff Members,

I wanted to provide this update to the lockdown situation at Kirkwood High School today:

At approximately 11:50 a.m. an unknown male came into the school office at Kirkwood High School and asked to speak to the school resource officer (SRO). The SRO wasn’t available and the man gave his name and number. The man asked to use the restroom. The secretary directed him to the restroom, but the man walked down the hall and turned into a different hallway. At that point, the secretary became concerned the request to use the bathroom was a ruse to access the building and she immediately called our SRO. The SRO attempted to call the man to confirm that he had left the campus, but didn’t receive an answer. The man’s voicemail stated that he was a Ch. 5 reporter. Read more

KSDK Blamed for Scare at Area High School

ksdk_304

An unidentified reporter for St. Louis NBC affiliate KSDK is being blamed for the lockdown of a Missouri high school while reportedly investigating the school’s security.

A Kirkwood School District official posted what happened on the district’s facebook page, “KHS is on lockdown. We do not believe there is any imminent danger. Here is what I know. An(sic) man came in and stated that he wanted to talk to security. He gave his name and cell number. When the secretary left to get the SRO, the person left the office and will not answer his phone. This initiated the lockdown.”

CBS affiliate KMOV reports, “According to a district administrator, the unidentified subject was later identified as a KSDK NewsChannel 5 reporter sent there to test the school’s security procedure.” Read more

Meredith Acquires KMOV, KTVK and KASW From Gannett

meredith_1Meredith Corporation will buy three stations in two markets — KMOV in St. Louis and KTVK-KASW in Phoenix — from Gannett Co. for $407.5 million in cash.

News of the sale comes just a week after the Department of Justice said Gannett had to sell KMOV in order to proceed with its acquisition of Belo Corp. Gannett says the sale satisfies the obligations, and that the close of the Gannett-Belo merger is “expected promptly.”

KSAW, the CW affiliate in Phoenix, will subsequently be purchased from Meredith by SagamoreHill. Meredith, which owns KPHO in Phoenix, will provide “certain services” for the station, according to a press release.

“Meredith is a highly respected multi-media company which shares our commitment to outstanding local journalism, and we are confident that these stations will be in good hands,” Gannett CEO Gracia Martore said in a statement.

More from Gannett after the jump. Read more

Gannett Agrees to Sell KMOV As Part of Belo Merger

gannett belo logos_304x200The Department of Justice will require Gannett Co. to sell St. Louis CBS affiliate KMOV in order to proceed with the pending acquisition of Belo Corp.

The DOJ says Gannett, Belo Corp. and Sander Media LLC, which will acquire six stations in markets where Gannett and Belo overlap as part of the merger, must “divest substantially all of the assets used in the operation of KMOV-TV in St. Louis, Missouri, which is currently owned by Belo.”

Without the divestiture, “Gannett would have gained a dominant position in broadcast television spot advertising in the St. Louis area, resulting in higher prices advertisers,” the DOJ said in a statement.

KSDK, Gannett’s NBC affiliate in St. Louis, will not be impacted by the sale of KMOV, Gannett says.

The Gannett-Belo merger remains subject to approval by the FCC. It is expected to close by the end of the year.

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