Channel 6 Story Wasn't Fully Told; Prejudice Seeing Light of Day
Channel 6 Story Wasn't Fully Told
I read with interest your recent article on the inner workings of the new WTVR-Channel 6 [cover story, June 12]. I spent six years at the anchor desk at WTVR, and though I left more than two years ago many Richmonders still consider me part of the Channel 6 family. I commend you for the article but I wish to express my concern over several points.
For example, Roy Park did not sell the station to Raycom in 1997. Mr. Park died in November 1993. His family retained ownership of his stations for a time, but eventually sold them. Over the course of about four years, there were three different owners until Raycom bought WTVR from Media General in August 1997.
Also, you list a number of people who went "out" when General Manager Mark Pimentel came in. The wording of your story suggests that Pimentel fired or otherwise disposed of these people. This is not so. The station was already in the midst of heavy turnover when Pimentel arrived.
Sports Director Jeff Hogan had begun anchoring in Columbus a month before Pimentel's arrival in Richmond. I began discussing my future with Raycom executives in early 1999, as my contract was ending, and despite offers from the company to stay on, I chose not to. Cheryl Miller became the new 6 p.m. anchor. Her former co-anchor, Jim Hale, chose to pursue a promising position in Washington, D.C. By my count, Pimentel fired only two on-air people, and there might be some debate as to how warranted those firings were.
I was also disappointed by the article's lack of due credit to women. Why was there no mention of anchors Stephanie Rochon or Cheryl Miller? I am sure this was an unintentional slight, but I can assure you that the role women play in the news setting is every bit as critical as that played by the men.
Finally, I was dismayed by your characterization of former staffers at Channel 6 as people "content" with lagging behind in ratings. While it is true that the news product for many years was subpar, there were numerous circumstances that influenced that.
Most of us, including my former co-anchor Charlie Fishburne, cared deeply about what we were doing, and we fought every day to deliver news that embodied integrity, service to our community and true journalistic principles. Many of our best efforts were thwarted by uncertainties in ownership and management issues. But most of us gave all we had to try to turn difficulty into winning.
It should also be noted that in the '80s, with Lisa LaFata and Charlie Fishburne, the station was at the crest of the ratings. In the early to mid-'90s, during my early days as co-anchor on the evening news, we were often strong contenders in the quest to reclaim first place from WWBT. Under the leadership of News Director Elliott Wiser and GM Rich Pegram, we often came close.
The new Channel 6 is in the midst of trying to turn that around. I wish them all the best.
While I take exception to some of what you printed, I applaud your coverage of WTVR's aspirations. It is too easy to be apathetic and inattentive about local broadcasting. But those issues are of paramount importance to all of us. I look forward to your continued coverage of Richmond media.
WTVR anchor, 1993-1999
Prejudice Seeing Light of Day
There's no doubt in my mind that the times are changing, but a recent study on the treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered children in school by Human Rights Watch proves that we still have a way to go [back page, June 26].
Although I am glad that prejudice against this group is finally seeing the light of day, I am disheartened to see that harassment of kids and personnel in schools is so alive and active. This is an issue that all schools, students and parents must confront, because ignoring it will not make it go away.
The fact is, words can wound people. What's worse is that you don't even have to provoke or confront someone to be harassed about your sexuality. This abuse is locked in silence, afraid to speak out against this awful behavior.
Often, people assume that a person is being targeted because he "brought it upon himself" or because she "doesn't stand up for herself." But if a child does defend himself in the current, close-minded climate, he runs the risk of being suspended. If he asks an adult for help, he may face something even more devastating and damaging than the painful names his peers call him: He faces an adult, a person in authority who he must respect, who harbors the same prejudices as his peers.
Fortunately, more sensitivity and awareness is occurring on many levels in society. It's not much to ask of ourselves, and of each other, that we treat people with sensitivity and accept our differences, rather than use those differences to divide us. Most importantly, if we come to believe this, so will the children.
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