On Thursday, I wrote on a number of issues the staff and management at WDJT-TV CBS 58 are facing.
Conflicts, death of a former co-worker and human resource items can arise at any workplace. However, when multiple issues hit at the same time, it can be a bit overwhelming. In the world of broadcast media, there are enough stresses with simply getting a newscast on the air. It can take its toll on staff members when other incidents may impact their workday.
Specifically, WDJT is dealing with the death of former morning anchor and reporter Asa George, a pair of discrimination claims filed by news staffers and the resignation of a photographer. Eric Ellis left his job on Wednesday, following an attempted robbery while returning to his car after shooting video on the city’s North Side.
"We have received copies of the discrimination charges that were filed by two employees with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Weigel Broadcasting Co. and CBS 58 have a strong commitment to equal employment opportunity and nondiscrimination," WDJT vice president and GM Jim Hall wrote in a statement on Friday.
"We take any such allegations very seriously, and we are reviewing them with our legal counsel. However, as a policy, we do not comment on pending legal matters. We look forward to addressing these matters through the legal process."
When Eric Ellis resigned from WDJT this week, his email sent to station management was shared with MediaBistro’s TV spy. In it, Ellis recounted a message from station management advising staffers not to go to the North Side alone to work on stories. That first message came out after one of Ellis’ co-workers had her iPhone stolen while reporting on a story.
Ellis stated that he feared for his and his colleagues’ safety after an attempted robbery and physical threats he received while working on a story in early September.
Following the report in OnMilwaukee.com and other media sources in the community, Ald. Bob Donovan of Milwaukee’s 8th District released a statement in response, calling out Mayor Tom Barrett to address the city’s "public safety crisis."
"During the past day, it has been reported in the news media that managers at local television station WDJT-TV CBS 58 have ordered that no reporter or photojournalist be allowed to cover events or stories alone on the city’s north side. Personal safety and security issues were cited for the order," Donovan said in his statement.
"That’s right – there are now areas of Milwaukee so dangerous some in the news media are scared to go there. This is simply shocking and outrageous!
"What’s next, will police officers be ordered to stay away from some areas of the city because of safety concerns?
"My God, Mr. Mayor, what do you have to say about this? When will you wake up and tell us what you plan to do about our public safety crisis?"
Late on Thursday, WDJT reported further details on the death investigation of George, who was hired at the station in 2010.
"West Allis firefighters had to enter her apartment through a window. The firefighters found 34-year-old Asa George in a bathtub full of water," CBS 58 reported.
The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office was conducting toxicology reports to determine the cause of death, according to the report.
"We at CBS 58 express our condolences to her family, friends and former broadcasting colleagues," the station said at the end of the report.
Here’s an old "Just 10 Minutes" promo from March 2010 with George and the morning news team:
Media is bombarding us everywhere.
Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.
The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.