Chris Rose has been handed his walking papers at WVUE in New Orleans.
Rose produced taped commentaries and “60 Second Interview”segments for the Fox affiliate. But he was given his 30-day termination notice in mid-March, and was told then that the decision was based on budget restrictions.
Although Rose isn't so sure that the budget was the reason he was bounced.
He points to one of his commentaries back in January. The subject wasn’t glowingly positive about the pending Super Bowl 2013 in New Orleans. The station is owned by an NFL owner, Tom Benson. Rose connects the dots:
The commentary was, “by my standards, lightweight – it was anything but a rant,” hetells the Times-Picayune. “It was a cautionary tale about city spending prior to the Super Bowl, looking at the expensive palm trees downtown while people in Gentilly are still waiting to get their sidewalks rebuilt from Katrina.”
Rose said viewer reaction was positive – the commentary expressed views that many here held in the airbrush-heavy run-up to the game — but he was told to not do any more Super Bowl-related essays. “They gave no reason,” he said. “Just flat-out, ‘Don’t.’
“They said, ‘We want to keep it positive before the Super Bowl.’ Which I found funny, because I’ve never really equated my voice to anti-New Orleans.”
“I said, ‘Give me time. Watch what I talk about the next three weeks, which is New Orleans pride.’”
Rose’s next piece, he said, was about the multiple-victim Central City shootingson the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade route.
“They didn’t even shoot that one,” Rose said. “And at that point, I was removed from commentaries, and I’ve just done 60 Second Interviews since. Three nights a week. That’s a lot of seconds.”
Rose, who this week and next is finishing up his last few 60 Second Interviews for the station, said the scripts for his commentaries, including the January Super Bowl spot, were approved by superiors before taping.
Mikel Schaefer, WVUE’s news director, declined to comment about Rose’s dismissal except to say, “It was 100 percent budgetary.”
WVUE staffers report recent belt-tightening at the station, including other personnel trimming and a curb on overtime.
“Honestly, we’re having to tighten the belt,” said Joe Cook, WVUE’s president and general manager. “I love his stuff. It’s a luxury that takes a lot of resources for us to do. He doesn’t shoot his own stuff. His stuff is not necessarily sponsor-able. I’m going to miss him. For the same investment, I can have a couple of reporters out there.”
Sounds like the "budget cut" was nothing more than an excuse to us.