Arkansas station disputes 'sentenced to do story' story

June 18, 2015 08:15

By Scott Libin, RTDNA Ethics Committee Chairman

Last week's account in an Arkansas newspaper about a television reporter reportedly sentenced by a judge to do a story caused concern and some outrage among journalists. The notion of a court compelling a reporter to do a story seemed almost as bad as a court prohibiting a reporter from doing a story.

Now the station where that reporter works says the case wasn't quite what the newspaper made it seem. This week, KFSM-TV News Director Bill Cummings sent RTDNA the following statement about the incident involving a courtroom tweet by reporter Larry Henry in violation of an order by Judge Brad Karren of Arkansas' 19th West Judicial Circuit:
KFSM did not, nor would we ever, relinquish control over our content or editorial process. In this case we did acknowledge that Mr. Henry unintentionally violated Judge Karren’s rules regarding tweeting in his courtroom. In additional to apologizing to the court, we deemed it appropriate to take a positive step and offer to do a story on children’s advocacy — a topic we have covered many times on 5NEWS. There was never any discussion with the court on content of that story nor was there any quid pro quo to avoid a fine or other action.

Judge Karren declined to comment, but his office said earlier this week that an order in the case would be filed within a few days.