News Director Fired, Reports Say He Told Reporter ‘To Milk’ Missing Child Story

A Tampa-area news director is out of a job Saturday (October 18), and an industry blog is reporting that he was upset when a reporter who found a missing child had not “milked it” for ratings.

The Tampa Bay Business Journal was the first to report the firing of WFTS-TV News Director Bill McFarland and Assistant News Director Michele Murray.

Business Journal writer Eric Snider said the news was announced to staff via an email.

“An internal email to staffers from WFTS-TV General Manager Nick Nicholson said that McFarland and Murray ‘were no longer with the television station. We wish them the best in their future endeavors.’

“He later followed up with an email announcing a staff meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday ‘to discuss moving forward.’

“The move is the latest in a shakeup at the local ABC affiliate, owned by E.W. Scripps Co. On Aug. 20, executives from the corporate headquarters in Cincinnati came to Tampa and let go GM Rich Pegram. A little less than a month later, Nicholson was brought in from Phoenix to run the station.”

But just months after Nicholson took the job and moved to Florida, he is no more.

Industry blog T.V. Spy reports that part of the problem has to do with a story reported by the Inquisitr earlier this month, in which WFTS-TV reporter Cameron Polom was covering the case of a missing child. Much to his surprise, he was the one who found the child, turned him over to authorities, and provided a heartwarming on-camera reunion between the boy and his family.

T.V. Spy’s Kevin Eck reports that for Nicholson, the reporter not only finding the child but also getting the reunion on camera was not enough.

“Sources tell TVSpy that McFarland and Murray were not happy with how Polom handled the child’s return and thought he should have milked it for more exposure for the Scripps-owned station. An internal review of the situation was launched leading to today’s dismissals. We’ve reached out to WFTS GM Nicholson and Polom for comment but have not heard back.”

What do you think? Did the news director go too far as alleged by Eck’s report? And do television news milk stories too often in attempts to drive ratings, or is it all part of doing the job? Tell us what you think in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.

[Image via Screenshot]

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