Monday, September 14, 2009

How Does This Woman Still Have A Job?

[UPDATE: Prather says Nina stays. Amazing.]

That, to your right, is Nina Radetich. She's a local TV anchor for the ABC affiliate here, KTNV, Channel 13, and she has been one of the best-paid media personalities in the city for a few years now. In fact, she was seen as such a "get" that when she was lured away from KVBC (where my partner is executive producer but was not when Nina was still there), KTNV actually paid her a salary for a year not to work because she had a one-year non-compete clause. Little good it did their ratings (they've fallen since her arrival, in fact) as anyone with half a brain could have told them, but hey, ya roll the dice.

On Saturday, the Las Vegas Sun blew the lid off a fairly shocking -- even for Vegas -- scandal in which, according to audio recordings of phone conversations, she not only told the owner of an auto repair chain that a damaging undercover report was coming soon but that her own boyfriend could help do public-relations damage control! Her boyfriend is Jack Finn, formerly a spokesman for Sen. John Ensign and former Gov. Kenny Guinn and presently a special projects manager at NV Energy. Now he's doing damage-control spin for Nina in the story by defending her journalism which is cool for him since Nina is heard on the tape saying how much Jack loves that kinda work!

Abigail Goldman of the Las Vegas Sun broke this story in a banner across the top of the paper on Saturday. Read it; it's brutal and damning. Goldman had heard audio recordings and provided a transcript to Radetich's boss, KTNV veep and GM Jim Prather. Goldman paraphrased Prather as regarding the matter a "lapse of judgment" and assured the public that their probes into Tire Works, the auto chain, would be unimpeded. Somehow I'm thinking Darcy Spears, the investigative reporter whose work was leaked, doesn't feel that way.

As of right now, Radetich remains in the employ of Channel 13, although she did not come into work today and her scheduled anchor duties tonight will be performed by Tiffani Sargent. Tomorrow's have been reassigned, too, to Jessica Lovell. And then she's on a previously planned vacation from Wednesday to Friday anyhow.

That's so nice and deliberative of her bosses. They weren't nearly as pleasant or patient or reasonable when 25-year veteran Ron Futrell got a hit-and-run citation last year. He was canned before the sun set the next day even though he hurt nobody, impacted nothing in the way of coverage and -- even better! -- the charges were ultimately dropped. That's loyalty to a guy who gave them the best years of his life, huh?

Or how about poor Rob Blair, who lost his job at KTNV as a weatherman in 2005 after he stumbled the word "Martin Luther King Jr" in a way that some thought sounded like "Martin Luther Coon Jr." (I still don't think he did this, but I couldn't find a YouTube clip for you to judge for yourself.) Blair's remarks weren't even live; several people in the newsroom saw them before they aired but only Blair lost his job. He even went on the air to apologize and still, he was auf'd so fast Nina Radetich wouldn't even have been able to leak it to anyone!

Blair hightailed outta town after that, but Futtrell stuck around, having spent his adult life here and all. He's now one of us New Media folk. But getting a raw deal from a boss like Prather, who clearly plays favorites at the expense of news judgment, makes Futtrell a bit of a hero at the station and he's got lots of friends over there still.

He says his former colleagues are understandably nervous about what it does to their news-gathering abilities and reputations if Nina remains in place. None would speak publicly today but Ron's views are undoubtedly shared by many there.

"If she walks in the building, there's going to be an attitude of, 'We better not tell Nina,' " Futtrell said. "The first thing to think of is keep it from Nina if you have an expose. And what if you're somebody from the outside and you want to give Channel 13 a big investigative story. You trust the reporter, but are they going to be able to keep it from one of their anchors? It throws everything out of kilter."

What's so weird here is how greedy or vain Radetich had to be to throw her career away like this. She's unmarried, has no kids and makes well over $200,000. Her boyfriend is surely well compensated at the power utility. What possible motive could she have for betraying her newsroom brethren? To paraphrase Peggy Olson's remark to Don Draper last night on Madmen, she had everything her colleagues want -- and so much of it.

There is no way she can continue to work at that station or in this business at all, at least not without a period of time away. It would make no sense. Even if she apologized now, you have to figure the staff there is checking with their sources to see if this is an isolated case. Could it possibly be? Really? Does that seem likely?

And even if/when Radetich is fired, how does Prather look his employees in the eye and tell them that he treats them all with the same fairness and respect? How does he explain that Radetich got more than four days -- Prather obviously knew about this on Friday for him to give his ridiculous response to Goldman and keep Nina on the payroll -- but Futrell is fired within mere hours for something so much less germane to the actual job?

The longer this carries on, the harder it gets to explain not only how Radetich remains employed over there but how Prather does, too.

12 comments:

P.A. DiCocco said...

Just a matter of time, Steve.

Jeremy Womack said...

Excellent piece Steve.

JL said...

Wow, that is really incredible. When you work in a newsroom you have to trust the other reporters around you. I couldn't imagine working in such an environment. Hopefully with enough pressure they will send her packing like she deserves.

TheVegasGeek said...

Great work Steve. I just Tweeted your thoughts and I agree.

Anonymous said...

Amazing. I see no particular draw to Nina Radetich whatsoever. Aren't there plenty of other attractive women in Vegas who can read a prompter (without flacking for a boyfriend who obviously isn't doing such a great job at damage control)?

Anonymous said...

The Sun online story had over 125 comments earlier this afternoon, which is by far the highest in the last 5 years, in my recollection. You're dead on, Steve. Keep working this as hard as you can. This is journalistic corruption at the highest local level. Pathetic.

Jeff in OKC

Anonymous said...

and no one has explained how these comments were recorded when recording a phone call is illegal unless both parties agree. Someone intentionally recorded the call . . .

Rachel said...

How did they even get this tape? Why was the repair shop taping conversations? Something sounds fishy to me about this.

THE STRIP PODCAST said...

I do agree that the question of how the tape exists at all remains out there. However, nobody has disputed any of the contents of the tape and Radetich has not denied anything in the three days since this came out. So while it's surprising and clearly the auto shop has an axe to grind here that makes me wonder -- maybe it's one of those phone systems that tells you you're being recorded for quality assurance? -- it remains the case that a prominent local anchor either alerted a source to a coming scoop or offered the source assistance in mitigating the damage via the hire of her own boyfriend. Hard to get around any of that and Nina's not going to win any of this with, "Well, it's illegal for anyone to even know what I said anyway."

Mike said...

Steve, Excellent story. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

As a journalist, your job is to the truth. You must serve as an INDEPENDENT monitor of power AND your first loyalty is to the citizens. As a former financial news anchor/reporter, I know first hand how your financial reporting affects markets, businesses, stocks etc...If this was a fortune 500 company, and she was recommending the company to hire a... Read More PR firm due to her negative and biased story, she and the news station would be held liable for any downturn in shareholder stocks etc... Simply, she would be fired and the news station would be sued.

Anonymous said...

I work for the media and glad to say no longer in a newsroom, I couldn't take it anymore, I got tired of dealing with egos and envious people. I feel sorry for Nina, I always liked her, and still do. It is obvious that they want to keep her because of the ratings and I don't blame them, I stopped watching Channel 3 when she left, and now I watch 13 just because of her!!!! I will stop watching in a heartbeat if she leaves, I think I'm not the only one who thinks like that. Sueing the station won't happen, Nina can easily sue back that rip off bitch from Tire Works. I hope she does, she recorded the call without Nina's concent and that's against Nevada law. I see the GM's point of view, Nina is pretty, professional and a lot of people know her. Everyone makes mistakes and we all learn from them. It's fair to get a second chance. About the other reporters that got fired, well, you don't know how they were in the newsroom environment. At my work place, the commpany cut the staff last year and had to laid off reporters and anchors, guess what??? The ones they let go were the ones who were poisoning to the newsroom environment, people with attitude and negativity. I wouldn't doubt that the guys who got fired before were in this group of people. Nina might not, that's why she's getting a second chance. We need to focus on her long time career and not on a stupid mistake she did.