CV NEWS FEED // Two news directors at a western Michigan TV station were fired last month after they wrote a memo to their employees calling for more news coverage of non-LGBTQ+ related events.
Stanton Tang, director of WOOD TV, a channel based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, asked Assistant Director Amy Fox to write an internal memo telling employees that the station was covering too many “pride”-related events and asking reporters to balance their content.
“We have already done a number of valuable stories about several Pride-related events,” the June 13 memo said. “But, we have also started to hear pushback from viewers who are not happy to see those Pride-related stories.”
“We know that West Michigan is a conservative area in many ways,” the memo continued. “We need to recognize that some stories related to LGBTQ issues are going to be controversial and polarizing in our community. While you personally may not agree with a certain position, people are entitled to their opinions, and they are our viewers.”
“We should not cover every Pride event that we learn about. We need to do some work to discern the newsworthy-ness of the event. If we are covering Pride events, we need to consider how to make the story balanced and get both sides of the issue,” the memo concluded.
Fox’s memo pointed out that good journalism is unbiased and reports on a wide variety of topics; however, her memo drew backlash from the other reporters at WOOD TV. Both Fox and Tang were fired shortly after the memo was sent.
The memo was leaked to the press on June 14 and two WOOD TV executive producers, Luke Stier and Madeline Odle, confirmed the memo a day later.
“This memo was met with immediate pushback from our newsroom,” Stier tweeted on June 15. “The guidance is not being followed. The only two people involved in its creation have been removed from any discussions surrounding @WOODTV Pride coverage as our corporation conducts a thorough investigation.”
Odle echoed Stier’s statement, tweeting “The news director & asst ND sent this memo without input from anyone in our newsroom. Our team immediately pushed back and called it to the attention of upper management. This memo does not reflect our views. It has not and will not change how we cover members of our community.”
However, WOOD TV’s parent company, Nexstar Media Group, accused Stier and Odle of leaking the memo to the press, and the two were subsequently fired as well.
“We’ve had a front row seat to history for countless events in the city we love, working with the best journalists in the industry,” Stier and Odle tweeted on June 30. “We are heartbroken to not be with our team today continuing the incredible legacy we have fought so hard for.”
The termination of the four employees has angered both conservatives and liberals. Conservatives have protested against firing Tang and Fox because they stood up for good journalism, but liberals are outraged that Odle and Stier, who support LGBTQ+ ideas, were let go.
Tang and Fox could not be reached for comments; Odle and Stier declined to comment at this time about their termination.