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"Please Don't Talk To Anyone Else" - 01/10/14

  One of the most overused word in television news these days is "exclusive."  The Nashville tv news landscape is competitive and has been for decades.  Every news person worth his or her salt is eager to tell stories no one else knows about.  That's what it's all about, telling your viewers things they don't know but would be interested to hear.  Being first is the holy grail in journalism.  The root word of "news" is "new."  It's not as important as being right, but it's important. 

  In recent years, I've noticed something happening in Nashville news more and more.  Reporters at some television stations ask for interviews and then ask people like you not to speak to any other reporters who may call or stop by requesting comment.  I'm told there have even been instances where a reporter offers cash if you'll interview with them and tell everyone else no comment. 

  To me, that's wrong.  Journalism is a profession.  As a reporter, I'm searching for the truth and as many sides to the argument as I can identify.  I have never asked an interview subject not to speak with any of my colleagues.  After we talk, I synthesize the message they've shared with me, ask if I have an accurate understanding of thier position and then I thank them for speaking to me.  Not once have I ever said on the way out, please don't speak to anyone else.  Not once have I ever offered money in exchange for an interview.  I've had people ask.  I've had attorneys offer interviews with a client if I agree to steer clear of certain questions.  I always simply said thanks, but I can't agree to those terms.  It's intellectually dishonest.  It violates what I consider a sacred trust with my viewer.  I'm not for sale.  I'm your advocate.  I'm here to ask the questions you'd ask.

  I'm hearing so many examples of this kind of "reporting," I'm beginning to wonder if some news managers are encouraging or instructing their people to engage in this kind of newsgathering.  If that's happening, shame on both of you.  Shame on the news manager for violating what I consider a code of ethics.  And shame on any news reporter who bows to pressure to behave in this manner. 

  I don't say it's exclusive unless I know for sure this is a story you won't see anywhere else.  I have asked interview subjects to let me know if they interview with anyone else so I won't say "exclusive."  That's fair.  I respect my competitors.  I've always believed if I do everything I can think of to collect information, pictures, interviews I'll end of no worse than even with you at the end of the day.  I've made a career of putting my witts and work ethic against my competitors. 

  I consider this an honorable profession.  Anyone who engages in the practices I just described needs to check themselves, remember what business they're in and the position of trust they occupy.  I've been at this a long time.  My viewers come first.  It's not about me.  It's about you.  Telling you the truth to the best of my ability is what I promise.  It's all I'm selling.  And no matter how journalism changes, the truth and professional integrity never goes out of style.

 

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Last Update on October 23, 2014 09:10 GMT

BEAR CUB-STORE

ASHLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Stuffed teddy bears on drug store shelves may be a common thing. But shoppers where in for a surprise over the weekend when they saw a bear cub scurrying down the aisles. Witnesses say the cub first showed up Sunday at a nearby hotel, hopped out a window and crossed the street to the Rite Aid in Ashland, Oregon. KGW reports that customers snapped pics and videotapped the litte bear until police arrived and scooped the youngster into a shopping cart. Oregon wildlife officials are holding the cub until it can be moved to a rehab center or a zoo.

TOE SQUEEZING CHARGE

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (AP) -- A foot fetish went too far in the parking lot of a New Jersey supermarket earlier this month. Mount Laurel police say 30-year-old Derrick Johnson Jr., was arrested Tuesday and charged with harassment for the bizarre confrontation on Oct. 4. Police say Johnson approached the woman while she loaded groceries into her car. He complimented her on her toes, then allegedly touched and squeezed two of them. When the startled woman told Johnson to stop touching her, he allegedly told her he was obsessed with toes and ran off.

FIREWORKS-REMAINS

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) -- A Missouri funeral director is sending his father out with a bang. Well, his father's ashes, actually. Greenlawn Funeral Homes will hold its first Firework Memorial program on Saturday night, when fireworks packed with James Carver's cremated remains will be launched into the sky as part of his family's goodbye. Carver's family is the first to try Greenlawn's new program. His son is funeral director Jim Carver. He says his father, who died in 2008, loved watching fireworks and would appreciate the unusual send off. The family will follow the eight-minute fireworks display with a cookout and memorial celebration. The Springfield News-Leader says the fireworks memorials range from $300 to the "Ultimate Goodbye" as much as $10,000.

INMATES-FINANCIAL EDUCATION

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Prisoners will get the chance to learn how to balance their checkbooks and set budgets. Or at least some will in West Virginia jails. The West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority plans to offer a four-week financial education program in November to inmates serving sentences for misdemeanor convictions. The state says the program covers the basics, including how to cut debt and save for emergencies. Officials say inmates can reduce their sentences by five days for taking the course. Prisoners can also reduce time in the can by taking a life skills course.

 

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