Friday, April 1, 2011

KMBZ Stiffed at Cosby Panel at Ruskin HS

Display ad announcing the event, as seen in The Call dated week of March 25-31.

As I first reported on Facebook this morning(and please visit the badge and "like" my page if you are on Facebook!), KMBZ radio was shut out of interviewing Bill Cosby at his appearance at Hickman Mills High School this morning. According to Eric Bell, the KMBZ reporter at Ruskin this morning they were all set to do the interview, along with Fox4, when a person described as a local "consultant" stated that KMBZ would not get an interview. When Mr. Cosby stated his wish that no one be excluded, this "consultant" overruled him and stated again that KMBZ would not get an interview opportunity. Mr. Bell later reported overhearing later as he was packing up Mr. Cosby asking why KMBZ was excluded. Mr. Bell said that he did not hear any answer to the question.

Of course, people who were there emailed and whatnot to KMBZ more details about what happened. It turned out that the "consultant" was one Eric Wesson who is a columnist working at the Kansas City Call. He also works with something called "One Goal Consultants." As KMBZ looked further at the situation, it was remembered that KMBZ had done an investigation six years ago and discovered that Mr. Wesson was working both as a journalist covering the political campaign of Emanual Cleaver and as a consultant to the campaign, activity for which he got paid. It was ethically a little skanky and Mr. Wesson found himself with a problem due to KMBZ's reportage.

Now this was an invitation only event and the organizers have the right to limit media. However, Mr. Cosby is a force for good in the Black community and it makes little sense to limit access for the press. Furthermore, you can never have enough publicity. KMBZ would have done a nice puff piece, some interview time with Mr. Cosby that would have made a nice podcast, everybody wins. So there is no benefit to limiting the access by the local media to exclusives and only people with whom you agree. So this was just dumb. KMBZ repeatedly said that it was this one person, Eric Wesson, and not anyone from the Hickman Mills C-1 school district, or Ruskin HS or Mr. Bill Cosby himself. I certainly hope it was not at the direction of any school board members or Hickman Mills Superintendent Marjorie Williams.

Assuming Mr. Wesson was acting on his own, he was being a very bad model for the young people at Ruskin HS. He was being unforgiving, vindictive, petty and angry. He was taking the position of a victim (mean old conservative KMBZ caused me to have the problem!) instead of taking responsibility for his own choices and actions. This is something that should have never happened. It was unprofessional. It was petty. It smacks of the old "victim mentality" that has hurt many in the Black community. It looks too much like choosing who gets to report based on the presumed "position" of the prospective journalist. In the end, it cast a shadow on what should have been nothing but a feel good forum and educational event. And that is a shame.

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