Spring-breaking5/14/2000 08:00:00 PM Eastern
WTVF(TV) last week caught some criticism from media peers over its sweeps series on the excesses of spring break in Panama City, Fla., despite the warning and obscured body parts. Based on video shot by partiers, it showed drinking and drug use.
One TV competitor compared the station to Jerry Springer, raunch talkmeister and host of MTV's similarly focused spring break features.
The story showed numerous bare-if scrambled-female breasts and sex acts.
It described students searching through cow pastures to collect-from cowpies-a certain kind of hallucinogenic mushroom.
News Director Mike Cutler noted that few parents of college students are watching MTV, and were unfamiliar with the shocking activities of students' away-from-home movies.
The amateur filmmakers, Cutler noted, no Francis Ford Coppolas they, were proud of their debauchery documentary. "But parents really had no idea things were so out of control. There's no question it was a worthwhile story."
The story also brought about a two-point ratings boost, and Cutler won't deny that sweeps played a role in scheduling. He also concedes that the station was wrong in including among indignant parents-presumably providing some of the outrage that justified the story-station employees, unidentified as such.