Recall Petition-Signing Staffers Trigger Controversy At WTMJ
April 6, 2012 at 3:58 AM (PT)
JOURNAL COMMUNICATIONS Talk WTMJ-A and NBC affiliate WTMJ-TV (TODAY'S TMJ4)/MILWAUKEE have issued a statement addressing the controversy over staffers of both stations signing a petition calling for the recall of WISCONSIN Governor SCOTT WALKER.
The statement said, "TODAY'S TMJ4 and NEWSRADIO 620 WTMJ discovered that several members of our staff signed the recall petitions for Governor WALKER. Some of those employees play a role in our news-gathering and editorial process. Several of them also work on-air: One at TODAY'S TMJ4; four at NEWSRADIO 620 WTMJ.
"We want you to know that we consider this a serious issue. We are in the process of dealing with it internally. Our reputation of being a fair and unbiased news source is of paramount importance to both TODAY'S TMJ4 and NEWSRADIO 620 WTMJ.
"We expect anyone involved in the production of news to avoid situations that could compromise our integrity. We don't allow news employees to sign nomination papers for candidates, display yard signs or take part in a political campaign.
"However, many employees told us that they felt signing the recall petition was not a political act, but instead felt it was similar to casting a vote. WTMJ does not agree and we want to assure you, our viewers, that we are taking measures to make sure all of our reporting is fair, balanced and to ensure something like this does not happen again."
The MILWAUKEE JOURNAL-SENTINEL's DUANE DUDEK is reporting that staffers at the other big-4 TV affiliates, ABC affiliate WISN-TV, FOX affiliate WITI-TV (FOX 6), and CBS affiliate WDJT-TV (CBS 58), also signed the petitions, and each issued a similar statement. DUDEK reports that at WTMJ-A, sports host/reporter TRENNI KUSINEREK was among the petition signers; he quoted JOURNAL VP/Radio and TV STEVE WEXLER as saying on CHARLIE SYKES' WTMJ show, "We talked to those folks, reminded them of their obligation and moved on."