Las Vegas CBS-affiliate KLAS said it will “discipline” reporter Sharie Harvin after she reported on her church, for which she does public relations work, according to Media Bistro’s TV Spy. Harvin is a general assignment reporter for KLAS, according to the station’s website.
Harvin interviewed her church’s pastor, but didn’t disclose to either viewers or her bosses that she works for the church’s public relations. She said she couldn’t get anyone else to agree to an interview for the story on the Supreme Court DOMA ruling, TV Spy reported.
According to TV Spy, Harvin’s boss Ron Comings agreed to let her interview the pastor, but Comings didn’t know of her position. Comings told Las Vegas City Life that Harvin showed a “lapse of judgment.”
Comings, KLAS’s news director, told iMediaEthics by email why Harvin said she didn’t disclose her PR work and what Harvin did disclose to him. Comings replied to iMediaEthics’ inquiry on Harvin’s behalf:
“I actually didn’t know she was a member of her church until she told me the day of the DOMA ruling when she was trying to find religious leaders who would talk on camera and on the record.
“Shari didn’t tell me about her role doing PR for her church because she said she wasn’t attempting to promote the church or an event at the church or do some other kind of outreach. She was looking for any religious leader with the courage to state an opinion about the Supreme Court ruling.”
In the comments section, West, the pastor in question, appears to have responded to the story claiming that Harvin’s “role as public relations directions has only included her volunteering to ensure that our special events are placed on community calendars.” The pastor, Kelcey A. West, said that she wrote press releases and that “we were simply a good fit or that story.”
As of June 29, the disclosure was added in the middle of the story reading:
“(Disclaimer: Reporter Sharie Harvin works on a volunteer basis doing public relations for the Nehemiah Ministries Christian Church. The information was not disclosed in the initial report.)”
In updates to their original stories, both Las Vegas City Life and Media Bistro reported that Harvin has twice previously reported on the church. As of June 29, neither story has disclosures. KLAS’s Comings, who confirmed that City Life and TV Spy’s reports on this incidents are “accurate,” told iMediaEthics that Harvin didn’t start volunteering in public relations for the church until this past April, “well after the two previous mentions of her church and pastor.”