KMSP-TV Minneapolis reporter Tom Lyden pleaded guilty last week to tampering with a motor vehicle in May when he took a videotape from an unlocked car belonging to a former boxing champion charged with dog fighting. Lyden used the tape in preparing a story on dog fighting and a related police investigation and then turned it in to Baldwin Township authorities.
His actions created a stir and were roundly condemned by local members of the Society of Professional Journalists. A 90-day sentence was suspended with a year's probation, and Lyden will actually perform only 15 hours of community service.
Various theft charges were dropped against Lyden, who issued an on-air apology to his journalism peers and to the public several weeks ago. Although Lyden initially felt that taking the tape was simply aggressive reporting, he says he soon realized that "I crossed a line. I would never cross that line again." He says his station has been supportive and he hopes the incident will not adversely affect his career.