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Punishment Doesn't Fit KCBS' Crime

May 03, 1997

In keeping with KCBS Channel 2's publicly stated goal to "bring balance back to local news" and highlight the positive stories in our communities, I read Howard Rosenberg's column ("KCBS Not Wearing Its New Motto Well," April 28) with great dismay.

While his congratulations were appreciated for highlighting our ongoing "What's Right With Southern California" campaign, his misleading comments about our interview with Ernesto and Diane Medina--parents of kidnap-murder victim Anthony Martinez--did a disservice to everyone involved, most importantly the grieving parents.

We regret that the Medinas voluntarily chose to wear the Channel 2 T-shirts on camera. Dave Lopez did not ask them to change out of sensitivity to the family's heartache. In spite of that, you chose to print an article without calling for a comment that would have provided "balance." For the record, I want to clarify some additional background on this story to put it into context:

Soon after Anthony's abduction, we made a decision to spend additional time and resources on this story given the closeness of the Beaumont community. In addition to providing significant coverage, within 48 hours, we enlisted several key advertisers and businesses--Sir Speedy Printing, Sav-On Drugs, Lucky, UPS--to distribute 300,000 photo fliers that included a toll-free number.


We were the only station that provided 24-hour community service announcements providing the photos and toll-free number.

Because of our efforts and continuing coverage, Dave Lopez was granted the first one-on-one interview with the Medinas, who expressed tremendous gratitude for our visible presence in the community. Dave is a respected, 20-year veteran of this station, whose personal battle with prostate cancer was the focus of a recent segment that received praise from noted print journalists and community leaders. As I noted above, he did not acknowledge the shirts out of sympathy for the family.

Last weekend, we were the only station to carry Anthony's memorial service live for nearly two hours as a community service given the public outpouring of support. By keeping the story visible, we also hoped to generate additional leads in the case.

We have received numerous viewer calls commending our decision, noting the sensitivity of our anchors and reporters, especially Dave Lopez.

I am committed to making our newscasts both balanced and informative. While we apologize for an inadvertent oversight, the punishment Rosenberg meted out far exceeded the crime--of trying, in his own words, to be a "kinder, gentler" station.


KCBS-TV General Manager

Los Angeles

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