by Laura Nachman
Bucks County Courier Times
March 9, 2004
WCAU became the news last week after coming under fire from Newtown Square, PA residents and Delaware county public officials for renting a home in Newtown Square to use for a story it ran about internet pedophiles last Wednesday.
Here are some excerpts of a letter that was sent to WCAU and the media from a Newtown Square resident:
"This evening I attended a meeting with some 40 neighbors of Rockwood Road and neighboring streets. The impetus for the meeting was outrage at the irresponsibility and arrogance of Channel 10 News.
On March 1, 2004 your news management invited an unknown number of pedophiles into our community. By advertising on the internet you solicited pedophiles to visit a vacant house on our block for sex with a minor child.
There was no news story here. The house was temporarily vacant while the new owner arranged renovations. You rented it and manufactured news for ratings and greed. You did so with no regard for the safety of our children. You did so without the knowledge of local authorities and without any security.
An unknown number of pedophiles did respond and visited the house so you could take pictures and generate a meaningless story. The concern and action of nearby neighbors managed to halt your irresponsible actions."
In a prepared statement, WCAU news director Chris Blackman responded,
"NBC10 believes this was a very important investigation to tackle, and is proud of its report. Child predators on the Internet are a huge problem, of which every parent should be acutely aware. No one was put in danger by this story. The station's reporters and producers conducted themselves responsibly during the entire investigation and in reporting the story. NBC10 has listened to and reported on the community's concerns about this story, and we are open to continuing a dialogue."
According to an industry source, two other stations in town considered doing the same story, but did not continue with the story after checking with the police and FBI who advised against it.
WCAU news director Chris Blackman did not respond to an email asking if WCAU checked with authorities before proceeding with the story.
Not a Good Thing For Martha
In the wake of Friday's decision, CBS 3 and UPN 57 have removed Martha Stewart Living from their program schedules. Now airing 10-11 a.m. on UPN 57, the show will be replaced with All In The Family and Good Times. The 1:35 -2:35 a.m. run on CBS 3 will be replaced by repeats of Entertainment Tonight and Inside Edition.
It's Your Wedding Call
Congratulations to CN8's "It's Your Call with Lynn Doyle" producer Tess McGrath, who became engaged Thursday when her boyfriend, Chris Kelly proposed in the control room, live on the air at the end of the show. A wedding is scheduled for this summer at Doyle's home.
WPHL freelance reporter Brad Sattin is leaving the station to take a fulltime job at KSTP in Minneapolis, Minnesota.