A California meteorologist claims his firing last week was related to his objection to a story aired by the ABC affiliate station, KERO-TV 23, MediaBistro reported.
The meteorologist Jack Church reportedly “protested” his now former station, KERO-TV’s broadcasting a story about the success of strip clubs in the economy.
The story (see here) aired in late April during a sweeps week, reported that a local strip club have been busy, and interviewed a strip club manager, a strip club dancer, and a clinical psychologist . The strip club boasted “more than 1,000 customers a week.”
MediaBistro cited information on Church’s Facebook page (which is currently set to private, so StinkyJournalism cannot verify) that he “asked to have the day off when it would air” but since he didn’t get that request, he didn’t show up for work and was later fired for breach of contract.
KERO-TV is the ABC affiliate for Bakersfield, California.
Church told the Christian Post in an interview that he found the story “totally inappropriate material for the 5 o’clock newscast” and that he is a Christian. He explained he didn’t want to be part of that day’s newscast because he saw it as “an implied endorsement” of the segment.
The station’s general manager Steven McEvoy stated to the Christian Post that Church’s firing wasn’t “because he objected to a story the station was running or because of his religious beliefs” but because of breach of contract. Church explained that his contract barred him from missing work during sweeps weeks.
MediaBistro later reported that the news director for KERO, Todd Karli, backed the stripper story. “We were very careful to approach the story, not as any kind of promotion for the business, but straightforward,” Karli is quoted as saying.
UPDATE: 05/20/2011 9:51 AM EST: Read more about the “ethical dilemma of television news sweeps” here. Note: The journal article, by Matthew Ehrlich, is behind a paywall.
As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer explained in a 2009 blog post, “The objective during sweeps is to attract viewers who are oh-so attractive to advertisers.”
StinkyJournalism has contacted both the station and Church for comment. We will update with any response.