April 10, 2008

Another Hiatus, Perhaps More Permanent

I thought I could do it, but I was wrong. This blog, like my others, is going to take a break, at least until after the primary. Sorry.

March 31, 2008

WTHR Names Williams As News Director

Television This just in: The staff at WTHR was informed today that longtime assistant news director Carolyn Williams has been named to the news director post. Sources say the personnel news was well received by all.

March 28, 2008

Data Central, But Missing In Center

Abacus The Star has posted a new database of property tax assessments following the Marion County reassessments.

Useful stuff, but there appears to be quite a bit of missing data from Center Township, where revised property values fluctuated most wildly.

Coffey, Patterson Lose Lawsuit Against Star

Indystar Former Indy Star employees Lisa Coffey and James Patterson lose their discrimination lawsuit against the newspaper on a summary judgment ruling.

Read the whole decision here: StarSuit.pdf

March 26, 2008

Tracy Forner Signs Off Tomorrow

Television1 WXIN is losing an early morning co-anchor. The Star's Susan Guyett has the scoop:

Tracy Forner, the early morning co-anchor at WXIN Channel 59 for the past five years, will sign off Thursday after his contract was not renewed.

That means Angela Ganote will be doing the morning broadcast with subs until Forner’s replacement, Scott Jones, joins the Fox Station in mid-April from KJRH (Channel 2), the NBC station in Tulsa, Okla.

Forner is the second longtime Indianapolis newsman to go off the air in a week. Ray Cortopassi of WRTV (Channel 6) left the station on March 21 after his contract ended without being renewed.

March 23, 2008

WXIN Honors DCS Restraining Order

Camera Here's a local example of possibly unconstitutional prior restraint in action, courtesy of this morning's Star:

Mark McGaha wanted to share his frustrations about the Department of Child Services with the public, but he never got the chance.

McGaha did an interview with an Indianapolis TV station, but a Fountain County judge issued a restraining order barring the station from airing his complaints or even showing his face -- apparently without even having seen the footage.

The segment about family advocacy group Honk For Kids was broadcast March 13, without McGaha's comments and with his face blocked out in a group shot of parents.

A legal scholar called Judge Susan Orr Henderson's action unconstitutional and said it "borders on judicial misconduct."

"Quite simply, a judge does not have the authority to stop the press from publishing or airing a story," said Henry Karlson, a professor at Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis. "Any person has a right to contact the press and say a public agency is not treating them right."

Karlson said the judge's action amounted to "prior restraint," or government censorship, which is a violation of the First Amendment.

Dawn Robertson, spokeswoman for Honk For Kids, said Henderson's actions underscore the group's concerns about the way families involved with the child welfare system are treated.

"These are the kinds of abuses of power people across Indiana are dealing with every day," she said.

Robertson said the public is not aware of the extent of those problems because most aspects of child welfare cases are confidential. That means records and court proceedings typically are not open to the public or media.

A disabled veteran and single father of four, McGaha, 37, said he thinks the court and Department of Child Services are out to get him because he stood up to workers he contends have treated him and his four children unfairly.

After the TV segment aired, Honk For Kids asked the station, WXIN (Channel 59), why McGaha's face had been blurred and was told of the restraining order. That was the first that anyone, including McGaha, had heard about the judge's action.

Gavin Maliska, news director at WXIN, said station officials discussed challenging the order, which was issued the day the segment was to air, but decided McGaha's contributions weren't essential to the story.

"It came down to principle versus practical," he said. "If it would have affected what we were trying to do with the story, we probably would have had a different outcome."

March 21, 2008

Ray Cortopassi's Last Day

Television Today marks field anchor Ray Cortopassi's last day at WRTV.

A short message earlier this week informed staff that Cortopassi's contract was set to expire at the end of the month and that he would be leaving the station.

Cortopassi got bumped from the anchor desk last year when WRTV brought in "Todd and Trisha" to do the evening news.

March 18, 2008

Rietmann Leaving The Star

Indystar_2 Another veteran Indy Star writer and editor is resigning. Here's the skinny:

Jim Lefko/INI
03/18/2008 08:18 AM
Tom Rietmann leaving The Star  

After nearly three decades at The Star and The News, assistant sports editor Tom Rietmann has announced his resignation. His last day is set for April 5.

Tom has become a staple of the sports department in nearly 27 years at Indianapolis newspapers. He preceded the Colts to town by three years and has been helping chronicle their ups and downs as both a writer and editor ever since. His work on Colts game day has been a central part of the compelling package the department has produced, and he's also left his mark on Colts Weekend and other staples of the entire pro football operation.

Tom was the local expert on golf too, helping run The Star's coverage of that sport and others.

Most recently, he served as the sports content editor virtually every Saturday, handling the prep load, college sports, pro stories and everything else that comes in on the busiest day of the sports week.

He has also been supervising the sports desk, including last year's amazing effort on the Super Bowl.

I want to publicly express my gratitude to Tom, and thank him for his many years of devoted service and superior work in virtually every area of the sports operation.

March 17, 2008

Sean Ash Signs Off

Wishtv1 WISH-TV meteorologist Sean Ash, who joined the station in February 2000, signed off last night. He told the Central Indiana audience that he's heading to Detroit to "follow his heart."

He also jokingly accepted blame for all the bad snow forecasting that's gone on this winter.

Best of luck, Sean.

March 16, 2008

Correcting The Record

Indystar Indy Star executive editor Dennis Ryerson pens his Sunday column about last weekend's front-page correction on a story that included a major jury verdict mistake. Ryerson explains:

Aweek ago a headline at the top of our front page was clear and to the ipoint: "Physicians lose child abuse suit." A secondary headline added that: "Plaintiff awarded $400,000 in case alleging doctors didn't report abuse."

Unfortunately, the main headline, as was the story under it, was as inaccurate as it was clear. A jury held Methodist Hospital responsible for not identifying and reporting suspected abuse of an 11-month-old child who was returned to his mother and later beaten to death by the mother's boyfriend. The jury ruled that the two physicians involved in the case, Dr. Gary Thompson and Dr. Michael Turner, were not liable. No question, it was a very bad error.

Our newsgathering and editing processes include several steps to prevent mistakes. Reporters are expected to check and recheck the information in their stories. Stories go through multiple layers of editing before they are printed.

When we become aware of errors we correct them on Page 2 of our first, or "A," news section. We also append the correction to our archived stories and rewrite those stories to correct the error, to ensure that an error isn't repeated.

Some situations require more action on our part, however, and this was one of them.

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