Clear Channel's Syracuse, N.Y.-market radio cluster came under attack from the dean of a major communications school for its coverage of the blackout that hit the Northeast last month.
While ads continued to run on Aug. 14, WSYR-AM News Director and anchor Bill Carey was "a general without any troops in the field," bringing in more information from callers than from trained reporters and switching to a CNN feed after a few local segments, wrote David Rubin, dean of the Newhouse School of Journalism at Syracuse University in an op-ed commentary in the local Syracuse Post-Standard. The station is one of seven owned by Clear Channel in the market.
Later, Carey said CNN had provided a suitable news feed because, although parts of Syracuse were without power for several hours, it was not impacted like other parts of the Northeast and Midwest.
Rubin called on Clear Channel to "put the public's interest ahead of its profit margin and staff this station properly" or to join a news consortium to craft an emergency-response plan. Failing that, he asked that Clear Channel "permit another station to try to fill that [news/talk] niche with a better product" or "sell the station to a local ownership group dedicated to operating it in the public interest."
In a follow-up letter to the paper and an interview with BROADCASTING & CABLE, Carey attacked Rubin's credentials, insisting that the station was manned although summer staffing caused a slight reduction. Reporters, he said, were either putting officials directly on the air or taping stories.