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News 12’s Sean Bergin reportedly suspended after Santiago report

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Last night, in speaking about the reportage of the killing of Officer Santiago, and whether or not it would have been irresponsible to broadcast the name of his alleged killer – one of my favorite callers – Al from Hamilton - brought to my attention the story of News 12’s Sean Bergin.

Bergin, in reporting the Santiago story, commented that the station had been flooded with calls from various policemen furious that they would give coverage over the life of a cop killer.

As I’ve stated in one of my blogs yesterday, the coverage is warranted – it’s news.

Where Bergin crossed the line in reporting this emotionally charged story, was giving his commentary within the scope of reporting the news.

I think once he started with the line, “This same, sick, perverse line of thinking…” he then veers off into the realm of commentary. And while I agree with what he’s saying, (his viewpoint is right on!) still it’s not reporting.

It’s giving commentary – which is what reporters aren’t paid to do.
As a veteran reporter, I’m sure he knew that.

The fallout was predictable.

According to the Daily Mail, Bergin was suspended in light of his comments – and some in the community took issue – not over having crossed the line – but in the viewpoint he expressed. On person specifically who took exception was The National Association of Black Journalists’ president, Bob Butler. Butler said the following:

 

‘Are there problems in the inner city with kids without fathers? Yes. But does that make kids violent? No,’ Butler said. ‘There are a lot of kids without fathers who go to college, graduate and become upstanding citizens.

‘He’s talking about a social phenomenon where there’s lack of opportunity in communities.’

In the wake of it all, the station reportedly cut his hours down to limiting him to one story a week for their Long Island affiliate for $300.

One of the Youtube headlines stated that Bergin had quit over the demotion – which is something I probably would have done myself.

I don’t agree with his having given commentary during what was supposed to be a news report.

Perhaps his feelings would have been better expressed if the station had given him time to give commentary exclusively – something that was done in the golden age of television – when Harry Reasoner and Howard K Smith would give their viewpoints at the end of the ABC Evening News.

And it was labeled as such.

Do you agree with the station’s actions in suspending reporter Sean Bergin?

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