BANGOR, Maine — Citing a longstanding battle with upper management over journalistic practices at their Bangor TV stations, news co-anchors Cindy Michaels and Tony Consiglio announced their resignations at the end of Tuesday’s 6 p.m. newscast.
Michaels and Consiglio, who have a combined 12½ years’ service at WVII (Channel 7) and sister station WFVX (Channel 22), shocked staff members and viewers with their joint resignations Tuesday evening.
“I just wanted to know that I was doing the best job I could and was being honest and ethical as a journalist, and I thought there were times when I wasn’t able to do that,” said Consiglio, a northeastern Connecticut native who broke in with WVII as a sports reporter in April 2006.
Not everyone was shocked by the on-air resignations.
“No, that was unfortunate, but not unexpected,” said Mike Palmer, WVII/WFVX vice president and general manager. “We’ll hire experienced people to fill these positions sooner rather than later.”
Neither reporter had told anyone of their decisions before Tuesday’s newscast.
“We figured if we had tendered our resignations off the air, we would not have been allowed to say goodbye to the community on the air and that was really important for us to do that,” said Michaels, the station’s news director, who has spent six of her 15 years in Bangor’s radio and TV market at WVII.
Both Michaels, 46, and Consiglio, 28, said frustration over the way they were allowed or told to do their jobs — something that has been steadily mounting for the last four years — became too much for them.
“There was a constant disrespecting and belittling of staff and we both felt there was a lack of knowledge from ownership and upper management in running a newsroom to the extent that I was not allowed to structure and direct them professionally,” Michaels explained. “I couldn’t do everything I wanted to as a news director. There was a regular undoing of decisions.”
While choosing not to respond to individual complaints or charges, Palmer did take issue with the former anchors’ characterization of management’s role.
“Upper management is not involved in the daily production of the news. Period,” said Palmer, who had just finished posting online job opening ads in his office at 10 p.m. Tuesday. “We’ve made great changes over the last few months and are not slowing down.”
Michaels said there were numerous things that contributed to their decisions.
“It’s a culmination of ongoing occurrences that took place the last several years and basically involved upper management practices that we both strongly disagreed with,” she explained. “It’s a little complicated, but we were expected to do somewhat unbalanced news, politically, in general.”
Neither Michaels nor Consiglio would say what specific political leaning they were expected to adopt.
Consiglio, who also was executive producer, said the balanced journalistic approach they use for all their stories was sometimes frowned upon.
Both reporters said they do not have anything lined up in terms of jobs in the media.
“This is one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made. This is my career and I love doing it,” Consiglio said. “I’m looking at some options, but whether they’re in this industry or not is something I’ll find out.”
Both said they were of similar mindsets and the idea to resign is something they had talked about for a long time, so they felt it was right to make it a joint decision.
“Broadcasting is a love for both of us,” said Michaels. “We definitely will miss not being able to come into folks’ living rooms and I hope there’s no hard feelings from the community for this decision we’ve made, but we felt we had to do it.”
And as for Michaels’ future plans?
“I’ve started freelance writing, but I don’t know what I’m going to do either,” she said.
Palmer said the station held an impromptu staff meeting, which everyone attended despite it being nonmandatory.
“Everyone came in, even if they weren’t working,” said Palmer. “Everyone volunteered to do whatever had to be done to keep things moving forward.”
Palmer pointed out the stations’ expansion effort, which began last year with the addition of staff, equipment and newscast programming.
“Over the last 15 to 18 months, we’ve been a raging locomotive of change,” he said. “The capital improvements to the building, the technological changes. We have added 10 full-time jobs with benefits here to payroll. We had to expand the parking lot because of adding so many people.
“The promise we’re making to everyone is this locomotive is not stopping,” he said.
Palmer pointed out his station is bucking an industry trend toward downsizing.
“I’m very proud, given how things are going from here to San Diego, to add 10 jobs and grow the business,” he said.
He said the stations’ ownership already has seen its proactive approach pay off.
“We’ve invested in the community and the community has rewarded us financially in the form of advertising revenue,” he said.
Michaels said there were a lot of shocked looks by staff when they closed their 6 p.m. newscast with their resignations.
“I was scared to make this decision,” she said. “[News anchoring is] a great thing to do as well as a great place to do it in. I’ve been lucky to do this. We’ve had a great opportunity here and I will miss it.”