WIUM Tristates Public Radio

"Lighthearted" Photo Stirs Up Trouble

May 19, 2015

Both Jim Romenesko and TV Spy report that David Custer, an anchor at WNEM-TV in Saginaw, Michigan, tweeted a photo intended to spoof the movie Pretty Woman.

The photo-shopped image depicts co-anchor Meg McLeod as the Julia Roberts character and Custer as the Richard Gere character.  Custer swears he was just trying to make a joke, but the image was heavily criticized for suggesting the two are a prostitute and a john.

Shop Talk panelist Jasmine Crighton said stations are always looking for ways to connect with the audience but this is a failed attempt to be clever.  She said sex trafficking is a serious crime and a news reporter should not be making light of it. 

Crighton said TV stations are supposed to serve their communities and this image does nothing toward that goal. She also said the image is especially harmful to the woman’s (McLeod’s) reputation.

Rich Moreno said he understands the need to improve ratings and the public relations aspect of the job for TV personalities.  He said viewers choose certain stations because they connect with the anchors.  And he said spoofs can work --  but this one clearly crossed the line.

Rich Egger questioned the need for spoofs.  He suggested those who work in TV news should focus on doing good journalism.