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WCCO-TV’s fuller disclosure

Although TV news bumps heavily promoted stories all the time for breaking news, you don’t often hear a station tell viewers the delay is because “we need to do more work on that report.”

Monday, that’s exactly what WCCO’s audience heard; I can’t embed the video, but you can watch it here.

WCCO assistant news director Michael Caputa says his boss, Scott Libin, wrote the non-bland, though still somewhat vague, disclosure. The story, he explains, involves a woman who bought a car at a dealership where the sale got mixed up in an alleged theft-by-swindle.

“It was one of those things where, when the people involved see the [promo], they’re rattled about what it’s going to be,” Caputa notes.

The issue came up over the weekend; the station’s lawyers weren’t available, so WCCO decided to err on the side of caution and hold it Monday.

Car dealers are typically big advertisers (less so these days), and it’s not unheard of for news organizations to tread lightly around them. However, Caputa says the dealer in question is not an advertiser and the sales department wasn’t involved. The story will definitely air — “we’re still comfortable with it” — and at most a line or two could change, though perhaps not even that.

Given the sensitivities, the station could’ve simply ignored the delay, or made anchor Amelia Santaniello’s line less of an attention-getter. However, Caputa says Libin “has always talked about being up-front on those sort of things, so we’re not going to pretend it didn’t air. We’ll try to be honest.”

I know I’m a lot more interested in this story now.

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