KIRO Hearing Over Story on Leschi Custodian

Good for them.  Good and bad news about the district needs to be accurate and tv news especially so because their stories tend to be shorter than other media.

From Local 609:

The Washington News Council has set a hearing date of Saturday,
June 16, from 9 am to noon at Town Hall (downstairs) to consider
multiple complaints against KIRO7 Eyewitness News.

The complaints concern two stories aired on May 10-11 about an
African-American custodian at Leschi Elementary School, Chester
Harris. The stories alleged that Harris had "manhandled" or "bullied"
children at the school. They also questioned Harrisʼ past history,
which included several arrests but only one conviction.

However, after the stories aired the staff, teachers, parents and
custodians' union defended Harris and criticized the KIRO stories.
They flooded KIRO with phone calls and emails, contending that the
stories were inaccurate, unfair, sensationalized and unethical. They
noted that Harris was merely trying to break up a potential fight
between two boys, and asked that the stories be retracted and
removed from KIROʼs website, which did not occur.

The Washington News Council first received a formal written
complaint from the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local
609, which represents Harris and other staff in Seattle Public Schools.
The WNC also received numerous individual complaints from the
Leschi School administration, staff and teachers, followed by
complaints from many individual parents, and finally from the Leschi
PTA. The number of complaints totaled 15 – which is the largest
number of complaints against any stories in the WNCʼs history.

The complaints were hand-delivered to KIRO on May 25. An
addendum including the PTAʼs complaint and a list of requests to
KIRO were hand-delivered on May 31. KIRO was asked to respond to
the complainants and to the WNC by June 1. However, KIRO has not
responded to the WNCʼs phone calls, emails or written letters.  
 Many parents and teachers also expressed concern because KIRO
did not get permission to film students whose faces are clearly visible
in the broadcasts. Some families had domestic-violence issues, so
showing studentsʼ faces on TV put them at risk, complainants said.
KIRO also deleted negative comments about the story from its
website, upsetting parents and teachers who had commented online.
Some complainants also noted that KIRO relied on sources who had
previous conflicts with school administrators. 
The News Council's hearing on June 16, which is open to the public
and the media, will include current and former WNC board members.
Karen Seinfeld, former Chief Judge of the Washington State Court of
Appeals and chair of the WNCʼs Hearings Board, will preside. 

It is not a legal proceeding, but an open public discussion of media
ethics and performance. The hearing panel will consider several
questions raised by complainants about the KIRO story, and vote in
public on the merits. There are no sanctions other than publicity. 

KIROʼs participation is entirely voluntary, but the hearing will proceed
with or without KIROʼs attendance. It also will be videotaped and
used in high-school and college journalism classes as a case study. If
KIRO meets the complainantsʼ requests to their full satisfaction by
June 15, the hearing will be cancelled.

For a complete packet of complaint materials, call the WNC office at
206.262.9793 or email A PDF of all the
complaints and supporting materials is also available on request.


Anonymous said…
Wouldn't it be nice if the SEA defended its good employees like 609?

sad poster
Ah, and Sad Poster, that's why we have unions. Management is not there to protect workers (unless you are principal) and your union IS your protection.
Anonymous said…
Mel, sad poster was comparing two unions. SEA v 609, not SPS v 609. Also made a point about protecting good members. SEA doesn't seem to do much for the average good teacher, and instead spends a lot of time protecting some bad apples.

IMHO, sorry I missed that.
mirmac1 said…
Actually, I know some very good, senior teachers who are being hounded by know-nothing "instructional leader" principals, and who are getting NO help from the SEA. One is a former Teacher of the Year, who said to h*ll with that, changed schools, and is much happier. Too bad for the students at her old school.

I wonder if PASS is helping the principals at Lowell, L@L, and Lafayette?
Anonymous said…
The journalism writer that was once in me cringes.
Can someone please tell me why Harris's race is specified? Why wasn't Seinfeld, the other person named, also specified in regards to race? Or any other people? Why label at all?
i.e. What bearing could this possibly have?

KIRO news is trash IMO, not journalism or press at all - they're trying to have the freedom of a press blog, while selling entertainment value of a tabloid or police-video reality show, without any of the responsibilities that go along with those rights (let alone following media/press laws). This has been the case for years now ever since they got in bed with the Seattle Police's media folks. They surrender video to cops when it suits them. They post copywrited material without compensation. They delete comments, pictures, facts - if it doesn't serve their entertainment value. If corporations are indeed people, this one might need a shrink.

More proof that TV news is so terribly 20th century...

-Fed Up NorthSeattleParent
Anonymous said…
And Melissa-with all due respect, as an Experienced Educator, I for one know that the Union does nothing for its Teachers. To say "ah, that's why we have unions", is sort of oxymoronic in Seattle Public Schools. I can say that because as a .05/part-time employee, my union rep told me point blank, that she's only going to assist me part-time.

Aint that a blip?!!
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