Did KSTP-TV tire of full disclosure?

This isn’t a thunderbolt against the journalism gods, just one of those head-scratchers where I wonder why a news organization can’t come clean.

The story is legitimate, in TV’s crime-obsessed universe: Dude with jack steals eight grand worth of spare tires out from under SUVs — and oh, by the way, similar crimes are happening elsewhere, like in St. Paul.

The very first victim is indentified as Russ Brown, whose spare “was stolen while his truck was parked at work.” Later, we learn “his company put out a warning.”

Guess what? Russ Brown works for KSTP-TV — the company that put out the warning.

Why didn’t KSTP disclose that it was an extremely interested party? I don’t know for sure; I didn’t get an email reply from station officials this morning. To be fair, reporter Tim Sherno didn’t name the Eden Prairie Ford dealership where the $8,000 theft occurred, though there were more details disclosed about that business than about “a company.”

I understand KSTP not wanting to draw attention to its spare-rich parking lot. Still, viewers deserve to know that the station has decided to cover itself.

Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by John O'Sullivan on 12/05/2009 - 09:16 am.

    An interesting and timely alternative: WCCO put its former brass front-and-center for a story about a car jacking involving Jeanette Trompeter. This story seems to stray a little too far to the other side of the tracks. It’s always awkward when reporting on you’re own organization, I suppose. http://wcco.com/local/police.involved.shooting.2.1351034.html

  2. Submitted by Bridgette Bornstein on 12/07/2009 - 09:33 am.

    I was the reporter sent to interview our former colleague Jeanette Trompeter and boyfriend David Azbill. While it was extremely awkward for us to be including a friend and former coworker in our news coverage, please don’t forget the real reason this was news: it was a police-involved shooting, and the car thief drove at officers at a high rate of speed, so they shot at him.

    In a story like this, we would always seek out the people connected to the stolen vehicle. In this case, we knew who they were sooner than we might otherwise because we know them. WCCO Reporter Darcy Pohland was hosting the going-away party for Jeanette that night, and our coworkers were there and knew Jeanette and David were involved in the incident. Should we have pretended we didn’t know the victims? Would that have been a truthful way to report the details that lead up to police shooting the car thief?

    Bridgette Bornstein
    WCCO Reporter
    bbornstein@wcco.com

  3. Submitted by John O'Sullivan on 12/08/2009 - 07:09 am.

    Thanks for the explanation, Bridgette. You’re right, it was an awkward/unusual situation to report on. I’m not sure what I would have done differently. I’m just not sure it’s possible to file a straightforward report about an organization from within the organization. It will always raise more questions from viewers about what went on behind the scenes then it clarifies about the facts, don’t you think?

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