Monday, November 19, 2007

Yo, Dude, Where's My Anchor: NY 1 & The Jerky Boys

Don't get me wrong, I am forever a believer in the First Amendment and the importance of communication as a cornerstone of American society, so, anything that vaguely sounds like criticism of the news media is not something I would pursue lightly. That said, while I suppose one would not expect that NY1 would engage in any hard-hitting investigative journalism of its own Dirty Laundry, the departure of Gary Anthony Ramsay seems to show how effective the corporate media have become in their own controlling of the First Amendment. The story itself seemed to have been based on the November 9th call-in by Ramsay to "The Call" that rather peculiar call in show hosted by John Schiumo, which my blog-colleague http://www.gothamcityinsider.com/ describes as a "a topical call-in show but its basically Double A ball for prank callers to cut their teeth before moving on to the big leagues." The story was covered in the Daily News on Saturday and then picked up in the NY Times yesterday.

As Gotham City Insider reports in its own inimitable style:

"I have no idea why Ramsay admitted to it in the first place! The first rule of prank calls and being busted is Deny Everything! ...Super-journalist John Schiumo called Ramsay after the show and said he recognised his voice and Ramsay apologised instantly instead of just denying it and telling Schiumo he was an idiot.

"I guess Ramsay was home alone and frustrated because he had in fact applied for some other gig and got word that it was given to some other reporter so maybe he was on his way out of NY1 anyway and just said fuck it - let me call Schiumo's stupid show and bust his balls. Ramsay joined NY1 in 1992, when the station first went on the air, and covered a range of stories, including the 1993 and 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the war in Iraq. He is the president of the New York Association of Black Journalists, and has received numerous awards from industry groups, including the Radio and Television News Directors Association. I think he's up for The Jerky Boys Award as well."

To add my two cents as to why NY1 may need its own Viewer Ombudsman or Public Editor, like the NY Times, I couldn't help but wonder
why none of the recent reportage on Ramsay's shenanigans mentioned the sexual harassment suit againast NY1 that had been reported in the papers last year when Ramsay (allegedly) came onto another (women) reporter and she was subsequently fired, apparently after complaining about it, and after she complained about being the brunt of much frat-house-locker room humor. This story received some coverage and then seems to have died. When I mentioned the latest Ramsay issue to My Better Half , (showing why women are so politically superior to men), she immediately said "Isn't he the guy who was charged with sexual harassment or coming onto a woman reporter at NY 1?" Why did the NY Daily News and the NY Times omit this portion of the story?

As Gothamist.com reported last December:

from http://www.gothaminst.com/ December 11, 2006 ( http://gothamist.com/2006/12/11/ny1.php)

Former Reporter Sues NY1 Over Busty Betrayal
A lawsuit claiming a hostile work environment at NY1 makes the station sound more like a frat house and not the scrappy channel New Yorkers know and love! The Post reports that Adele Sammarco claims she was fired after numerous complaints about being harassed. Here's a rundown:
- Former reporter Jeff Simmons (now press secretary for William Thompson) "manipulated a
picture of her by adding giant breasts, and the photo was then plastered all over the newsroom."- Gary Anthony Ramsay, the current weekend anchor, "attacked" Sammarco after driving her home from a party; she said Ramsay "held me down with one hand around my neck, crisscrossed my wrists with one of his hands and put his tongue down my throat"- "News assistants regularly referred to her by the acronym 'BBB' and later told her the nickname stood for 'Big Butt Booty.'"- She was secretly taped while she and a technician were "struggling with her stuck skirt zipper moments before she went on the air - making the innocent incident appear lurid and sexual. The tape was later edited into a bloopers reel that was to be shown to the entire company."- Vice President of Programming Steve Paulus had "a dozen news assistants rate who had 'bigger boobs' - Sammarco or another reporter. Sammarco won."- News Director Peter Landis once asked her to turn around in a dress she had on so he could "get a good look at it,"
We love that the Post made sure to take a picture of Sammarco with the photograph (we bet it's "exhibit A" in the lawsuit). Sammarco's lawyer says that ever since she filed the lawsuit in 2002, she's been blackballed. NY1 says the lawsuit is without merit and that Sammarco was fired because her work was "not good."

I guess Ms Sammarco has obtained some satisfaction. I guess because NY1, in our home, maybe in a lot of homes, is like wallpaper, an ongoing media background for adults, when you hear about stuff like this, you begin to think, is it a trusted news source, or is really something else? You realize how much is not being reported. Fires and government malfeasance are easy stories by comparison. Media covering itself -- not so easy. But don't they have an obligation to tackle even the tough stories that are close to home?

1 comment:

  1. Sexual harassment is nothing at NY1compared to prank calling super-journalist John Schiumo.

    I think its quite obvious NY1 is grooming super-journalist John Schiumo for big things and Ramsay was just a patsy.

    ReplyDelete

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