Early this afternoon, I’ll be live blogging two “cases” at a meeting of the Minnesota News Council, a group in which members of the news media voluntarily participate. Here are two cases. Before the council starts debating it, you decide. Then we can compare notes this afternoon. (Narrative provided by the News Council)
Tony Sheda called the News Council in December 2007 to complain about a news story (Bob: I couldn’t find the story on the station’s Web site.) that was broadcast on Duluth station KBJR-TV. In July 2007, his son Adam had been fatally shot just days after returning from service in Iraq. In November 2007, KBJR-TV reporter Barbara Reyelts referenced Adam’s death in the context of the “The War at Home,” a story on depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among Iraq war veterans.
Tony Sheda complained that the story tarnished his son’s memory and was sensationalized. “Adam may have been lonely, but he didn’t have a ‘death wish,’” Sheda told the News Council.
In January 2008, Barbara Reyelts, who is also KBJR’s news director, offered a response that cited sources for the story. Her sources included police records, statements from the county attorney, and Adam Sheda’s MySpace page, which read “my plans when I get back are to drink until my heart stops.”
1. Was it fair to use Adam Sheda as an example in a story about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
2. Was it fair to report that Adam Sheda had a death wish based on a posting he made on his MySpace account?
Steven Devich is the city manager for Richfield, MN, and complained to the News Council after a story aired on KSTP-TV featuring a letter he wrote to a Richfield citizen.
A Richfield resident complained to Devich about noise coming from an air exchange generator located in the roof of the Richfield Middle School. Devich wrote back to the citizen, addressing their concerns.
KSTP-TV obtained a copy of Devich’s letter of response, and featured quotations from it in “Richfield Residents Frustrated Over Noise,” a news story they did about the noise coming from Richfield Middle School.
Devich complains that he was not contacted for comment by KSTP, and was unable to explain the contents of the letter. As a result, Devich believes the story was misleading.
1. Was KSTP’s usage of Steven Devich’s letter misleading in a 4/20/08 story about noise levels coming from Richfield Middle School?