Size doesn’t matter

Independent stations work double time trying to prove they are not the “off brand” choice for news, and then @#$% like this happens. Q13

To catch you up, Q13 had the video of the recent Seattle cop-versus-innocent suspect incident but sat on it. The freelance photog who shot it, saw what was happening, and sold it to KIRO – who took the football and spiked it in the end zone while Q13 sat there with its thumb in its XLR plug.

I don’t know if the freelancer was acting out of journalistic integrity, or just looking for a sale – but either way, for Q13 to sit on the tape probably to protect the Washington’s Most Wanted franchise is yet another example of what can go wrong when news departments sell themselves or get in bed with ANY entity.

As a side note – $100 for video that generates the biggest story in the market? Here’s your answer when the question comes up about why people are running like %^&* from the news business.

Back to our story now. Let’s face it, cops NEVER like behind held accountable, and really hate it when it happens in public – but p-ing off the cops goes with the territory when your a reporter, or a news director, or a photog. So is coming through for them when circumstances warrant. When it comes to public rebuke though, the good cops know it’s good for the department, the bad ones will never “get it” anyway. It’s not unusual or rare for these incidents to happen. It is rare for them to be caught on tape – and over the course of a couple of decades in TV news, I too have seen stations that have the Most Wanted or Crimestoppers franchises back off several times in several markets – to a lesser degree, and over a variety of incidents.

Anywho, this gaff cost the news director and an assignment desk jockey their jobs. The ND dumped on the AE who will probably sue claiming she was acting on orders from above – which I have to say rings true. Eventually the station needed and butt too – and the ND was sent packing. My question though is that if the station said it was doing nothing wrong – why the firings?

Management says it was sitting on the tape to pull documents – anybody who has worked for an hour in a TV newsroom knows this is crap. If you don’t know, I’m telling you. This would not only be the top story at any station not in between the sheets with the cops, it would have been a freakin’ CUT IN! You know, “We interrupt live programming to bring you the following update from the KPUK newsroom….”

Even though KIRO bought the video from the stringer, Q13 is also making a claim that it somehow “owns” the video – asking KIRO to take it down. It’s not good enough that Q13 wouldn’t run the video – they wanted to spike the story on other outlets too! What is wrong up there?

Yes, the relationship with freelancers is tricky, but if $100 is all that’s on the line – the poor schlub should be able to sell it as many times as possible to as many outlets as possible. You want it exlusive? I would pray to God that it would cost more than $100 – but that’s where we are these days, giving away work is the way of the world.

For God’s sake, TV news isn’t a hobby – yet. If you have video of a cop using racial language curb stomping a subdued suspect – it is right now news – period. You can sort out the “context” and pull the documents later – which would be a first for Q13 anyway with their massive investment in investigative reporting.