Speaking of WEYI (Flint) Weather Anchor Jamie Kagol, we got an email from one of his 'friends" that called our story yesterday "fake news" (you know because that's the new buzzword.
Brian Jefries sent this email to FTVLive:
I am writing in disgust that your website would say that WEYI chief meteorologist Jamie Kagol had a stroke live on air.
As a former coworker of Jamie's, your "report" caused many of his friends great concern. The problem is: it isn't true.
I spoke with Jamie today who said he wasn't feeling well and became light headed. He went home after the 6 o'clock news and says he is feeling much better.
It seems like you didn't do the very basic job of journalism to check your facts. How hard would it have been for you to pick up the phone to call the station to get a comment? Did you even bother to send Jamie an email, tweet, or Facebook message seeking comment? The answer is no (I asked.)
You put out false and personal medical information. Did you think how that could impact his current or future job prospects? One of the tenets of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics is to "minimize harm." It seems you have just done the opposite by passing along rumors and gossip.
You owe Jamie an apology.
You also claim that the station had made no public mention of Jamie's health scare. If you bothered to look at the station's video stream, you would have seen they talked about how Jamie fell ill, was home resting, and was looking forward to returning in a few days. The Facebook image you include in your story also shows the station (page) responded to many of the Facebook commenters privately.
I don't know who your "sources" are, but could it be a competitor who only wants to make Jamie or WEYI look bad by passing along false information? Could be. But that's why it is your responsibility as a "journalist" to check the facts. It's something you chose not to do.
You should retract this story and issue an apology immediately. I would hope for a response, but based off the quality of this report, I'm sure you are too busy looking for some other fake news articles to publish.
Shame on you!
I am copying your advertisers/sponsors on my email. I am encouraging them to stop supporting your website immediately. I would like a response from each of them whether this is the type of "fake news" they actively support.
I hope Jamie decides to sue you for publishing and (in the case of your advertisers) supporting such an incorrect and harmful article.
Here is FTVLive's response that we sent Brian and will also post here, despite the fact that he said we would not respond:
I did not say that he suffered a stroke. What we reported was many viewers (which I included in the story) feared that he suffered a stroke on air.
We never said that he had a stroke. We questioned if that could have been the problem? It has happened before to other talent and it is a downright scary thing to watch and it is much worse for the talent that it is happening to.
Jamie took to social media and explained what happened. FTVLive is posting a follow up story Today with his post and using it in full.
Anytime anyone takes ill on air, it is a scary situation. The concern of his family and friends is understandable. Viewers that saw it happened were scared. Many emailed FTVLive and wondered what happened?
You write, " could it be a competitor who only wants to make Jamie or WEYI look bad...." I ask you, how does a guy getting ill on air look bad? How does it make the station look bad? The poor guy got sick, you might be the only person that thinks it made him or the station look bad.
Read all the viewers comments on social media. They were concerned, they were scared. Not one said anything about making him or the station look bad.
There was no "fake news" here. It was a scary situation that happened on air and it had viewers concerned.
In our last line of the story, we said "Let's hope Kagol is OK."
We wished no ill will towards him and were happy to read this morning that he is well.
Jamie handled the entire incident like a pro. We are glad he is fine and happy that he's doing well.
As for the poor people that have suffered a stroke on air (or off air for that matter), despite what Brian thinks....it does not make you "look bad." As you know it is a scary thing that can happen to anyone.
Unfortunately, as many of you know, my own father died of a stroke years ago. One minute he was fine and healthy and the next he was dead. The stroke did not make my dad "look bad" but it did kill him.
Kagol's own doctors did a number of tests on him to check out his health. Happily he says, the tests came back fine and all is good.
Which is great news and is certainly not "fake news"
Glad all is well.