WBNS-TV Columbus, Ohio weatherman Chris Shumway has accused the station of firing him for openly questioning editorial practices, in particular, he says, "a peculiar editorial arrangement between wbns and Huntington Bank under which the bank gets direct editorial control over a 'news' segment called Your Money in exchange for a big payoff to the station. This is clearly a case of an advertiser buying control of the news."
In an essay posted on his own Web site examining "News Media, Corporate Power and Democracy," he concludes that increasing corporate power has caused media to "behave not like watchdogs but lapdogs." Citing prohibitions in his own contract against making derogatory statements about his employer, he accuses media organizations of hypocrisy in using freedom to broadcast provided by the First Amendment while allegedly curbing the free-speech rights of employees.
Shumway said his firing included a scolding by General Manager Tom Griesdorn and an escort out of the building. "Ironically," he told Broadcasting & Cable, "since my exit, people all over are reading an essay that was only posted on my rinky-dink personal Web site. I'm getting amazing support from journalists and broadcasters all over the country. It's been overwhelming."
Griesdorn would not comment on a personnel matter but took issue with Shumway's characterization of the relationship with Huntington Bank. Griesdorn said that the bank provides business expertise in a report from its location and the station maintains editorial control.
The business reports are no different from sole-sponsored segments done at stations around the country, Griesdorn asserted. "Chris is commenting on his perception" of the spots, he said.