EDITORIALS

How to cause a national stir: Quit your job on air

Posted Nov. 29, 2012, at 1:58 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 29, 2012, at 2:36 p.m.
WVII and WFVX co-anchors Cindy Michaels and Tony Consiglio resigned on air last week, creating a national media furor.
WVII and WFVX co-anchors Cindy Michaels and Tony Consiglio resigned on air last week, creating a national media furor.

Readers recently dove into articles about two Bangor TV anchors quitting their jobs on air. The duo’s dramatic resignations, purportedly for being forced to do bad journalism, made for good television and, well, a good story.

The article about co-anchors Cindy Michaels and Tony Consiglio, who signed off for good last week, took on a life of its own. National news agencies picked up the story broken by the BDN and distributed it widely. The attention generated more attention. The New York Times even assigned a reporter to cover the details of the surprise resignation, which was made, the former TV hosts said, to preserve their journalistic independence.

But why did the news of the former anchors quitting a local station cause such a national stir?

The pair’s announcement of their resignation from WVII (Channel 7) and sister station WFVX (Channel 22) was an unusual move in the history of fed-up journalists. Though the reasons behind the duo’s abrupt departure were not completely clear (the general manager said upper management is not involved in the daily production of news), people appeared to identify with the notion of going down in a blaze (we’ll let you decide whether it was one of glory).

Who hasn’t wanted to say, “Take this job, and shove it”?

The fact, too, that the former anchors didn’t reveal too much in their on-air resignations fueled people’s curiosity. The intrigue may have been enhanced by the sometimes mysterious nature of newsrooms and the news. Who makes the decisions about coverage? You see media professionals on the screen, but how does everything operate behind the camera?

We are, of course, honored by the interest in our media profession. The story about the former TV anchors had more than just a compelling gossipy element, though. The larger issue had to do with politics and integrity. Readers and viewers want to be able to trust the people who bring them the news. When questions arise about a media entity’s political positions affecting the way it presents the news, that trust may waver.

Whether political views affected the independent telling of the news at the Bangor TV stations, though, isn’t clear. The general manager said, if anything, he only tried to get the two to cover both sides of an issue. Michaels has declined to specify what, precisely, went wrong — and the story is complicated by the revelation that Consiglio was going to be let go.

Even though the story has more twists than first meet the eye, it likely resonated because of the accusations made by two people within the profession about the management of their profession. When employees split like that, and in such a public way, it’s bound to raise eyebrows. Leave it to two journalists to create a story in their wake.

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