Friday, June 22, 2007

Two in Nebraska Media Fired After MSNBC Story

KPTM (Cox Channel 10) reporter Calvert Collins was fired Friday, according to station personnel who said they could not comment further.

Collins was the "poster girl" for an MSNBC investigative report this week that identified 143 journalists who made political contributions from 2004 through the start of the 2008 campaign season. Collins was pictured in the article with former Congressional candidate Jim Esch in a photo that appeared on her Facebook page.

At that time, only the political website "The Leavenworth Street Blog" reported on the matter, eventually getting Collins to reveal (in a comment to the original post) that she was "truly shocked how this photo has made such big news. It was an honest mistake, and I should've removed the photo from the website sooner." Collins said the photo of her posing close to Esch was originally posted on her Facebook page in June and removed in late October.

In the MSNBC story, Collins told reporter Bill Dedman that her father made the $500 contribution to Esch's campaign.

A Google search for mentions of Collins' campaign contribution turned up more than 250 stories, many of them also mentioning "KPTM" and "Fox" within the text.'

KPTM station managers could not be immediately reached for comment Friday evening. News Director Joe Radske, however, was not working at KPTM when the matter in question originally came to light in late October of 2006.

And She Wasn't The Only One
Collins was not the only Nebraska-based media member to lose their job over Dedman's story.

Lincoln Journal Star editorial cartoonist Paul Fell uses profanity in his reply and lashes out at the newspaper when asked about his $450 contribution to Maxine Moul, Democratic candidate for the House.

Wrote Fell in an e-mail to Dedman:

"They don't pay me enough money to be able to dictate how I conduct myself in political campaigns. I generally do not donate to political candidates, but Maxine Moul is a longtime friend and former newspaper publisher where I got my start as a cartoonist back in 1976.

"Frankly, I don't give a rat's ass what the Lincoln Journal Star or their parent organization, Lee Enterprises, policies are on allowing newsroom staff to give to candidates and parties. I do not believe they did disclose my donations. That's their problem, not mine."


In a story published in Saturday's editions of the Journal Star, Editor Kathleen Rutledge acknowledges that Fell was one of two employees of the newspaper mentioned in Dedman's story.

Copy Editor Sylvia Hermanson made a $250 contribution to the Democratic National Committee in January, according to MSNBC. Rutledge said Hermanson (who asked Dedman if she was "busted") notified management when MSNBC contacted her for comment. Rutledge said Hermanson was reprimanded.

Fell, though, did not tell Journal-Star newsroom managers about his political contribution at the time he made it or when he was contacted by MSNBC. Rutledge took particular issue with Fell's comments to Dedman, saying Fell made it clear he did not care about the newspaper’s trust with its readership.

"We don’t think he should treat our credibility with such disdain," Rutledge writes. "His comments to MSNBC follow an earlier incident in which he did not disclose to us that he had posted cartoons of a sexual nature on his Web site. He removed them after we expressed concern."

78 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe Fox 42 can replace her wih someone who's younger and less experienced. Oh yeah and who will work cheaper.

Anonymous said...

NBC is paying a cool million to Paris Hilton for an interview, and all of the sudden we're worried about some lame-ass media/political slant conspiracy theory.

I feel terrible for calvert, and I've never even seen her newscast once.

Anonymous said...

NBC backed out. It ain't happening. At least according to Drudge

Anonymous said...

Wow! This is huge. Good for the media outlets, regardless of the reporter's or cartoonist's political preferences. They both offered up pretty lame excuses: her's was to blame it on her dad and his was to lash out and be an asshole.

Anonymous said...

What are the odds our favorite hometown paper will write anything on this?

I applaud the Lincoln Journal Star for its full disclosure, as well as for the editor inviting readers to respond.

Anonymous said...

Anyone ever been fired or reprimanded for contributing to a Republican campaign?

Perhaps, in their efforts to maintain credibility and fairness and balances, the local media outlets should consider posting a list of approved candidates and charities for their employees to support in their private lives with their private funds.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe Fox 42 can replace her wih someone who's younger and less experienced. Oh yeah and who will work cheaper."

Is that even possible?

Ted Brockman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ted Brockman said...

Anyone who's seen Larry Bud Collins on-air wouldn't feel very bad for her. It's no loss for the station or for the Omaha market, and a rare victory for the concept of ethics. But one has to wonder why it took Crappass Telecasting so long to find its morals.

If only MSNBC were investigating the quality of Omaha news stations, then maybe management would modify its practices in that area, too.

[Earlier post deleted to fix typos.]

Anonymous said...

The question is, what is their justification for firing her? If you plug Harry Pappas or other management people from the company, there are plenty of donations to Republican candidates in Nebraska and California, and a lot more than $500.

Anonymous said...

UPDATE: According to a search on campaignmoney.com, Harry J Pappas donated $500 to Rick Santorum's campaign, and $4100 to Bilirakis for Congress (R). These were all in the same election cycle as Collins' contribution.

Dennis Davis, President and CEO of Pappas Telecasting donated $1,000 to the Bilirakis campaign.

Howard Shrier, a Sr. Exec. for Pappas in Omaha donated $750 for Bilirakis..

LeBon Abercrombie (yes that is his real name), another Sr. Exec VP donated $1250 to Bilirakis, and $250 to Republican Devin Nunes.

Peter Pappas, another executive, donated $1500 to Bilirakis.

There are other donations made to Republicans during that cycle that are not part of the heirarchy of the company that I didn't list.

Also, Pappas is a privately held company, which means that the owner, Harry Pappas can dictate to newsrooms exactly what he wants covered and how. That means don't donate to the Democrats I guess.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, I almost forgot. The Pappas Telecasting PAC, which did donate to Democrats in that cycle ($7700 to Dems, $20,000 to Republicans), donated $2,000 to Esch's opponent in that election.

Anonymous said...

In Calvert's case it's not only about the financial contribution but her other actions as well. How can she be expected to be taken seriously as a journalist when she acts like sorority girl with a crush when she's around young male politicians? Maybe she should think about other career choices. I'm sure there are sororities out there looking for a good house mom.

Anonymous said...

Ted, Your comments are lame and irrelevant. Leave us alone.

louie's liquor said...

Ted, Too much time on your hands? Enough already with the lame nicknames you used to use in your blog. They were lame then and they are lame now. Go back to your basement and reorganize your comic book collection

Anonymous said...

Um, Calvert? I hear the Bottoms Up is hiring. Oh wait. You're overqualified. Never mind.

Anonymous said...

How do we know it's true that she's been fired?

liquor in the front said...

2:07 PM: "accordig to station personnel"

liquor in the front said...

I mean "according"

Anonymous said...

In thinking of policitians and broadcasters, the thought occured to me....has anyone ever seen Travis Justice and Janet Reno in the same room????? Hmmmmmmm. Coincidence or NOT????

Anonymous said...

Now THAT is funny...and disturbing

Anonymous said...

If you were janet Reno would you want to be in a room with Travis Justice?

Dingbat said...

It always amazes me. KPTM didn't think it was serious enough to fire her back when all this happened last fall. But, several months later, when they get all kinds of bad press about it. Then they get all kinds of outraged and decide to fire her.

Don't get me wrong. She should have been terminated. But it should have happened way back when she got all ga-ga over Mr. Esch.

Anonymous said...

Again, I'm wondering, how do we know she's been fired?

"according to station personnel who said they could not comment further."

That doesn'g quite cut it as sourcing.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, whether people personally like Calvert or not, or think she's talented or not... she should NOT have been fired! That is a violation of her freedom. NOWHERE does it say a reporter/anchor cannot donate to a campaign under Pappas guidelines. As someone who's worked there as a reporter/anchor (and someone whose parents donated to a campaign in my name without my knowledge) I feel for Calvert. I respect Calvert and think she does a good job. She is young, but she does a good job with what she can do. KPTM has crappy management, not to mention equipment and certain employees. I can make a guess that most of the insults on here are coming from a few people at KPTM that do not like her... VERY MATURE! And the fact that Pappas management also donated in the same election that Calvert did, I smell a huge lawsuit. I'm pretty pissed about it... not because it's Calvert, but because I'm sick and tired of the way Pappas treats its employees; people who work hard get rewarded with nothing, sometimes even being let go (I was not one of those people... I left and also turned down job offers there.) There is a reason that place has a revolving door!

Sean Weide said...

I stand by my report. Without jeopardizing anyone's job, I can tell you that the three KPTM employees I spoke to were instructed not to speak to anyone outside the station about this matter.

And, in the interest of full disclosure, I worked as a news producer at KPTM in 1997 and 1998.

Anonymous said...

Sean it's good to see you have great journalistic ethics. Too bad Calvert was out building the homecoming float when they covered ethics in school..

Anonymous said...

Good to see Ted back!

There is no question CC should have been fired, what a fool and embarrassment to the profession.

Fell is a different story, being a contractor and cartoonist.

Obbop said...

I see the brainwashed sheeple are lambasting any view not agreeing with their biased knee-jerk unthought-out propaganda-based acculturation and indoctrination.

Good little sheep. Bleat away as better minds than yours continue to add written content to the ongoing fray.

The Ted Brockmans of the world are laughing at you simpletons who bleat in dismay at what does not fit into your itty bitty mental universe that would assuredly fit into the proverbial thimble.

Now, go obey your masters, little sheep.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if she will also end up in Alabama where all former Omaha News Anchors go...

Omababe said...

>Good to see Ted back!

Yeah, I was kinda wondering how long it would take him to surface again. :)

Anonymous said...

More fair and balanced firings from the always unbiased and nonpolitical FOX affiliates.

Anonymous said...

CC has a Facebook page? How high school-ish is that?

Anonymous said...

Hey Obbop...watch out. THere are immigrants lurking on every blog...BOO!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow, obbop and ted posting again. Just like old times. Their pathetic lives must have been more boring than usual.

Anonymous said...

First rule of being a reporter...never become the story. Second rule of being a reporter, disregard first rule if you want to appear as guest on MSNBC/Fox/CNN talking head show.

Anonymous said...

Let's the "who is Ted Brockman" talk begin again,

Anonymous said...

I think Ted Brockman is Randy Oswald. Think about it; he bashes Channel 6 relentlessly and then bashes Calvert Collins. It fits, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

Randy Oswald!?! Please! That guy is lucky if he puts his Depends undergarment on before he shits his pants.

Anonymous said...

Now that is funny!

Anonymous said...

As a former reporter, I believe anyone, including journalists can support whomever they want. Whether they make it public (as Calvert did on her Facebook page) is another story. Yes, she did make that mistake, and yes, she should have been fired, and, yes, it puts a black spot on her journalistic ethics. But I don't think she should be criminalized for wanting to support someone.

Anonymous said...

Congrats Sean...your blog made msnbc.com!!

Anonymous said...

If brains were TNT, Ted and obbop wouldn't have enough combined to blow my nose.

Anonymous said...

Of course she should be terminated. Here's a few reasons why...

1. She claimed to only be gaining rapport with Esch. That is a paltry excuse. She apparently wished to gain rapport with no other? It takes money to gain journalistic rapport?

2. She, in a public forum, encouraged her friends to vote for Esch. At a minimum it gives the impression of partiality through her status as a TV personality. (If I were to say vote for him, no big deal. If a TV personality says to, her persona derives credibility through her profession).

3. And probably most egregious of her paltry excuses has to be the contention that Dad donated, not me. That is either a bold-faced lie or it is illegal. The campaign report shows her name. If it is her dad's money, then that is against the law. If it was really her, then she is a liar.

Yes, I hear some talking about this being a free country. Indeed. And her employer has certain freedoms also.

Anonymous said...

Calvert is the ultimate self promoter. If you read the MSNBC article Calvert says "I covered more politics than any of our reporters." If you have ever met Calvert...she would likely tell you she covers more (fill in the blank) than any other reporter. The reason she got fired from KPTM is not because she had a picture with Esch. It's because she broke station policy by talking to MSNBC!

Anonymous said...

Ethics in journalism has nothing to do with this. These people made contributions as private citizens, not as representatives of their respective news organizations. If they were utilizing company resources or airtime to support their candidate, then I would have a problem with this. I feel this is unfair to the individuals who were fired.

Anonymous said...

But everything would be okay if it was the Republican candidate? C'mon people, this cuts both ways whether you are Democrat or Republican. God help us, I hope a viable thrid party rises from somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous 6:43 am...
This is entirely about ethics in journalism. When you enter this field, you do so with the knowledge that you can no longer do all the things you might do as an everyday citizen. Making campaign contributions, putting a party picture of yourself with a candidate on a web site and encouraging people to vote for that candidate all fall into the "you don't get to do this anymore" category. It's about credibility. It's Journalism 101. If Collins isn't bright enough to know this, she shouldn't be in the profession.

Anonymous said...

Let me preface this by saying that I like Calvert and disagree with KPTM's decision to fire her.

HOWEVER....I'm sick of the phrase "violation of freedom" being thrown around in situations like this. What does "freedom of speech" have to do with this? Am I free to call my boss a futher-muckin' bouchedag without fear of losing my job? Of course not.

No one's throwing Calvert in jail or deporting her for her actions. No one's basic human rights were violated. Stop dialing the ACLU and put down the phone.

Working in the media, I can tell you that most contracts contain the clause, "Employer may terminate employee WITHOUT CAUSE". My boss is allowed to can my butt just because my show sucks. Or because I did something that he feels damaged the credibility of my station.

Good luck, Calvert.

Anonymous said...

From what I hear, Radske was looking for ANY reason to fire her because she apparently was still making anchor money from her KXVO days.

Advice to Calvert:

SUE THEIR ASSES!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:24

Sorry, but that's crap. I've been in the media for over 30 years. No where does it say that I surrender my rights of citizenship in any way just because I work in the media. Not even in Journalism 101. I'm still entitled to my rights as a citizen and all that entails regardless. The difference is how it impacts my reporting. If you don't see it impact my reporting then it's no one's business except between me and my employer. If I knowingly violate a company policy that prohibits it, and I'm aware of that policy, then they're justified in their decision. If you see it impact my reporting, THEN you can question my credibility. But to arbitrarily decide that I must surrender my rights as a citizen to be a reporter, that's a bunch of crap.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of crap, what station won the May ratings?

Get wit it, Sean-boy.

Anonymous said...

I hear that Jo Giles is out too. That makes FOUR in ONE week...way to go KPTM, you'll really rise to the top now!

Anonymous said...

They should call KPTM the Firing Line:

Matt Meyer
David DeJohn
Dave Hansen
Tracy Jacim
Calvert Collins
Jo Giles(?)

Anonymous said...

Giles was not fired. She chose to leave. Joe Radske is not the Anti-Christ. He happens to work for a company that is run by a lunatic. It's funny how every time something goes down at KPTM..it's the talk of the blog. Yeah..the pay sucks..the equipment sucks...and H.P. sucks but we all have each other. (haha)

HS said...

Joe:

Thanks for checking in. We hadn't heard from you since you gave Calvert her pink slip.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget:

Lisa Bertin
Dean Wysocki

Anonymous said...

Sean Weide-
Under full disclosure, shouldn't you also admit to applying for and not getting the News Director job at KPTM last year? mr. ethics...right?

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of local media, including Omaha and Lincoln, are unaware of certain ethics and legal violations they make on a frequent basis... many undergraduate journalism programs do not delve into that "grey area" that this particular story falls under. Collins didn't try to pull some conspiracy on the people of Omaha to get Esch elected, nor does she, KPTM or Esch have that power. I don't see why Collins is the black sheep for an honest mistake she made. If it was a problem, she should have been fired in November. I think it's more of a problem that KPTM is trying to do whatever it can to keep its head above water and is failing miserably... they have been for many years. Collins did not break any laws or company policy. I knows Collins rubs some people the wrong way and is maybe overly "involved" in the community, but then shouldn't we crucify Dave Webber?! I mean, people like Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh keep their jobs when they broke serious laws and ethics codes, but they kept their jobs... because of money and ratings?! If KPTM had money and ratings, perhaps Ms. collins would still have her job. And by the way, for the person that metioned that he/she is sick of the "violation of freedom" cop out, one should be able to support his/her political choice, but keep that private. Collins made a mistake by sharing her photos publicly and telling others to vote for him. She's young and learned a lesson the hard way, which happens in TV. It's not the same thing as telling off your boss; that would be creating a hostile work environment, which IS covered in one's contract, NOT who you choose to support politically.

I am appalled by the amount of ignorance people in this area have about journalism ethics... and the sad things is, is that most of the people that post on here are employed in broadcasting and don't know much about legal and ethical implications in media...

Sean Weide said...

Anonymous (9:53 a.m.):

I did not apply for, nor was I considered for, the news director position at KPTM last year - or any other year that the job has been open.

You obviously have me confused with someone else.

Sean

Anonymous said...

Of course her parents made the contribution. Is there anyone working at a Pappas station that could possibly have a spare $500 laying around??

Anonymous said...

A suggestion for Sean...post his thoughts on who are the top five print and broadcast political journalists in Nebraska. Could be a good conversation starter!

Anonymous said...

So Paul Fell, who is a free lance editorial page cartoonist, has been fired for expressing his opinion ... but not in the paper who hires him??? What a shame and a sham. I believe in full disclosure when it comes to the news, but on the editorial page???
Kathleen Rutledge has taken an OK paper and made it even less significant.

Anonymous said...

Sean, dude, now you're taking out the comments posted about Joe Radske? What is this, Communism!?!

Anonymous said...

Who is Joe Radske for gods sake?

Anonymous said...

Oh my god! Did Joe send you an e-mail Sean, and say this is not nice Iam crying..... awe! Why do people want to know who Joe Radske is?

Anonymous said...

Joe Radske is an urban legend. Sounds like a made-up name. Maybe the question will be answered in the season finale. Stay tuned! No, he is a good guy. Don't bust his chops too much.

Sean Weide said...

Anonymous (July 2):

If you posted something about Joe Radske and it is not in the comments section, please send me an e-mail about what was posted and when it was posted.

I did not delete any comments about him - nor do I recall seeing any (and when I do, an explanation is always provided).

Sean

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