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When the Competition Makes the News, Stations Don’t Tell the Whole Story`

October 26, 2011
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The story is this — Parks Director Mike Heitz was suspended for 30 days and will undergo alcohol abuse treatment. He was suspended because WAVE-TV’s Eric Flack videotaped him leaving KT’s after having drinks. Heitz was preparing to drive away when Flack confronted him. Then Heitz decided not to drive. When Mayor Fischer heard about it, he took action.

Parks Director Mike Heitz

Now, you won’t hear that full story on any of WAVE’s competitor stations. That’s because admitting another station uncovered a newsworthy story trumps the public’s right to know the full story of what’s happened.

WDRB-TV made Heitz last night’s lead story, sending Bennett Haeberle out to dig up info from Heitz’s record (he had a 2007 DUI that somehow didn’t get into his personnel file). Haeberle at least acknowledged, on the air, that another news station’s reporter was involved.  He also got a citizen’s reaction, and knocked on the door at Heitz’s home, getting a no comment.

At WLKY, the Heitz story was a simple voice-over midway through the first block at 11, with nary a mention of another station. The same with WHAS-TV’s 10 p.m. news. I couldn’t find a mention of it on the WHAS website. Same for WLKY.

WAVE is saving the full details of its investigation for tonight at 6. They will be, and should, promote the heck out of it today. It had two stories — one of the basics of the suspension, and another with reaction from a citizen.

The Courier-Journal reported on the incident with full details, including Flack’s involvement.

Competition among stations is a really good thing for viewers, most of the time. But when stations fail to tell the whole story about a public official being suspended, for fear of highlighting a rival’s work, it’s not.

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Rick Redding

Rick is the entrepreneur behind LouisvilleKy.com. He’s been a world-famous blogger since thinking up The ‘Ville Voice back in 2006. Before leaving that start-up in 2009, he was voted the city’s best blogger by Louisville Magazine. LEO Readers voted his site the best independent news site in the city. In 2009 he organized a news operation at LouisvilleMojo and headed up the Local Voices blog team at WLKY.com in 2010. A long time ago, he was a beat reporter at Business First, launched business news operations in the Kiosk and Pizza industries, and wrote a media column at LEO. He’s a Louisville native and a graduate of WKU.

7 Responses to When the Competition Makes the News, Stations Don’t Tell the Whole Story`

  1. Jason on October 26, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Too bad nobody watches WAVE.

  2. davilledude on October 26, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Thanks for keeping us updated. With two DUIs, sounds like this Heitz needs help and I hope he gets it.

    Why is a guy making $100K a year driving a city-owned car?
    Police driving their cruisers home I can understand but a guy making this kind of money needs to buy his own car. I hope Metro Parks isn’t another fiasco like Housing, MSD and the Animal Shelter.

  3. Savannah Bob on October 27, 2011 at 8:21 am

    The story didn’t say whether he was drinking during working hours or not. Isn’t that important? Or is it now illegal for a Parks Dept. Director to go to a bar at any time? Just askin’…

    • davilledude on October 27, 2011 at 11:14 am

      Good question…last night’s WAVE News didn’t say—just gave the Mayor’s reaction about suspending him.

      WAVE is milking this story..more about it on tonight’s news.

  4. Brendan Keefe on October 27, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Sure the Park Director can go out for a few drinks, and even drive if he’s under the legal limit for blood alcohol level.

    BUT… not in a city owned car, people.

    Add to that his DUI conviction, which mysteriously got ‘lost’ from his personnel file.

    Eric Flack is on the right track here — the other stations should be ashamed of stealing his work without giving credit.

  5. Pat Slattery on October 29, 2011 at 10:21 am

    While you’re at it why don’t you call out all the local TV stories that are lifted from the Courier without attribution?

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