Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Three Stations, Three Stories

Local TV stations have been making their marks this week, in what typically is an agonizingly slow time for news content. Let’s face it, when there are stories in the first segment about a truck dropping oil on the interstate or cars being broken into at apartment complexes, you know times are tough. Three local stories have stood out, however.
Let’s start with the sidebar KTBS produced about the arrest of Dr. John Davis on charges of attempting to produce child pornography. The story is interesting on its own merits. However, KTBS’s angle about a local veterinarian who shares a name with the arrested doctor was outstanding. The vet is getting death threats and is enduring other unpleasantness simply because he has the same name as a bad guy. Chris Redford is to be commended for giving the innocent veterinarian a forum to set the record straight.
While KTBS led the pack on the arrest of KEEL News anchor Mike Sieve on charges related to soliciting sex from minors, KSLA caught up Tuesday night. Sieve got out of jail, and David Begnaud literally went knocking on his door. While Sieve would not appear on camera, Begnaud spoke with him at some length and was able to paraphrase the conversation. He was also able to lift some actual sound, picked up by his microphone through Sieve’s front door. The interview he did with a neighbor was disappointingly predictable and borderline cliché, but I suppose it was necessary. Sieve is heard saying he just wants to fly “under the damn radar.” I guess so.
KTAL sports reporter Dave Owens went to cover BattleWings practice Monday and caught coach John Fourcade clearly saying that he believed some of his players were stoned during Saturday’s game in Stockton, California.* Practice was open to the media, and Owens was the only reporter present at the time. So, he got quite a scoop. He’s been running with it, too. I think he may have gone a bit too far. He’s stretched the story out over two days, but it is a painfully slow time for sports. He’s been pushing for an “investigation into the charges.” He was careful not to use that phrase on the air, since there are no actual charges. All he has is a coach making a dubious accusation, hoping to scare his players into some kind of admission of misbehavior. Owens is new in town. This is his first chance to put himself on the map. Mr. Owens, Rand McNally called. You’re good now. Move on.
These are examples of reporters making the most of opportunities presented to them. The Sieve and Fourcade stories have had an impact on me personally, because I know both men. The stories can’t be compared, but you know both of them wish they weren’t in the news in these contexts. Both have been in a position to celebrate the media spotlight when things are going well only to find themselves abhorring it presently. As for John Davis, DVM: the glare shone upon him through no fault of his own. Now, he just hopes to deflect it and, to borrow a phrase, fly under the damn radar.

*In the spirit of full disclosure, it is important to note that I was with the team during the trip to Stockton. I was in the company of the players much of the time, but not all of the time. I saw no evidence of any illegal behavior on the part of anyone. I was among the people Dave Owens called while working on his story.

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