Transparency & TV News Departments
The Shop Talk panelists discuss two cases of prominent TV journalists who were arrested for DUI and the different ways their stations handled the stories.
One case concerns anchor Jason Fechner of WQAD-TV in the Quad Cities. Mediabistro wrote that his station reported on the arrest and subsequently received some negative comments on its Facebook page from viewers who felt the station humiliated its main anchor.
The other case is out of Chicago, where investigative reporter Dave Savini of WBBM-TV was arrested and charged with DUI, battery, child endangerment, and leaving the scene of an accident. Media critic Robert Feder wrote the station did not report on the arrest on the air or on its website and it did not release a statement about his arrest.
The Shop Talk panelists believe WQAD-TV handled the situation correctly. Most news organizations will run a story if a prominent public figure – such as a mayor or city council member – is arrested for DUI, and TV anchors and reporters are generally considered to be prominent public figures so the same standard should apply.
The panelists agree with Feder, who harshly criticized WBBM-TV for the way it handled Savini’s arrest. The panelists feel it’s a matter of transparency. It’s best to report it and be done with it instead of trying to sweep it under the rug.