“Pride Month” is over and a day to be proud of, the Fourth of July, is upon us! But a news director, his assistant and two staffers from WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan will spend the holiday trying to figure out where to work next.
Over the weekend, some were fired over distributing a memo sent out asking for coverage of pride parades to be covered “balanced” and to show “both sides.” The others were fired for leaking the memo. The assistant director that was fired, Amy Fox, was “ordered” to write the memo by the new director, Stanton Tang, who was also terminated.
From the memo cited by TheDesk.net:
“We know that West Michigan is a Conservative area in many ways. We need to recognize that some stories related to LGBTQ issues are going to be controversial and polarizing in our community. While you personally may not agree with a certain position, people are entitled to their opinions, and they are our viewers.
While you personally may not agree with a certain position, people are entitled to their opinions, and they are our viewers. We should not cover every Pride event that we learn about. We need to do some work to discern the newsworthy-ness of the event. If we are covering Pride events, we need to consider how to make the story balanced and get both sides of the issue.”
Apparently, balanced news reporting with both sides of a story is frowned upon when it comes to “pride.” The other staffers at WOOD-TV were so triggered, they actually staged a “walk-out protest”, according to employees. The pushback from the station is rooted in reporting the news in an “expansive and inclusive fashion.” But what it really sounds like is ‘promote pride in a positive light no matter what the real story on the ground may be.’
WOOD-TV is owned by Nexstar Media Group, the largest owner of local television broadcast stations in the country. Nexstar claims on their website to “foster a culture of diversity and inclusion…so no one feels discriminated against.” While TheDesk claims this is a “rare instance of a news executive encouraging reporters to sideline stories based on the political affiliations of its viewers,” one could argue it is simply promoting a “fair and balanced” story. The memo encouraged reporters to refrain from covering every pride event, and rather just focus on the ones that were actually newsworthy.