Saturday, May 24, 2008

Question About Blog Ethics

We Got a Call from Tom Meyer

Two weeks ago, WKYC broadcast a terribly distorted "investigation" about EMS runs to 2100 Lakeside Shelter. We took Tom Meyer's to task for exaggerating the importance of this story and the offensive mention of sexually based offenders for no apparent reason. We also sent a note to the News Director of WKYC. Now for the ethical quandary--Tom Meyers called to respond. Do we print what Meyer said on with his call in the blog if we did not discuss publicizing his call? The broadcast was public, and our concern was public, so do people have a right to know about Tom Meyer's reply since the station has decided not to issue a correction? He has to know that NEOCH publishes the Homeless Grapevine, and he never said that his call was off the record. If the reporter code is you must tell a reporter in advance that your comments are "off the record," and the reporter must accept those terms, does that code apply to anytime a reporter talks to you? Besides, we are the homeless advocacy organization in Cleveland, and he never gave us a chance to respond to his one-sided story.

So, I will go ahead, and if he complains we can take this down or apologize. Needless to say, Meyer did not see my point of view. He said that he stood by the story and since I was the only one to complain he was not going to apologize. He specifically said that he was not doing stories just to please me. Thank God, since I do not watch any local news. I was told by a colleague that there was a "hit piece" on Channel 3 the night before. Thanks to the marvels of the internet I could watch this story online. Meyer was concerned that we had not written the note to him first instead of involving his boss. Why would we reach out to the reporter who did not reach out to us?

Meyer said that the number of sexually based offenders was a fact, and so it was correct to put it in the story. He did not seem to understand my point that it was also a fact that one-third of the men are veterans or that 40% work regular jobs. Those are facts that he could have presented had he talked to the shelter staff. Meyer felt that the two sides of the story were both represented and they included EMS on one side and the City of Cleveland on the other. He did not think it was a good idea to shove a microphone in front of the shelter staff. I guess that the staff and shelter residents were just causalities caught in the crossfire. Meyer was proud that he had made it clear on camera that he was not saying that homeless people did not deserve health care or ambulance assistance, and felt that the story was relevant. He did not say why he had not mentioned the statistics for EMS runs or the on-going contract dispute.

Homeless people will not get an apology, and local news continues to slip in the abyss of fake news and ratings. I am so happy that sweeps week is over for a couple of months.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

1 comment:

CynDe said...

Journalism has lost much of its integrity.

The only TV station in town (other than WVIZ) that seems to check its resources and still has an ounce if not more of integrity and ethics is WEWS.

I'm so glad I don't have to see or even listen to Cleveland media anymore. I'm very glad I left. The lack of compassion in Cleveland by the media for the homeless and poor is sickening.

Cynthia Miller
Toronto, Ohio
Former NEOCH Board Member and once homeless in Cleveland.