News Director Says No to the Nazis


A group of Nazi’s that called themselves the National Socialist Movement was hoping to bring some attention to themselves and planned a rally on the steps of the Arkansas Capitol a couple of weeks ago.

The racist idiots sent one or two press releases a day to newsrooms urging them to cover the gathering.

But, KARK News Director Austin Kellerman made the decision not to cover the story.

"Reporters kept pitching the story but the story never made it to the daily assignment board," Kellerman told Poynter. "Finally, an anchor asked 'What are we going to do with this?' It started a conversation that included my feeling that there was enough going on, including an election, that needed our attention more."

But some in the newsroom asked whether the rally, whatever people might think of it, was news and should be covered.

Kellerman said the newsroom started asking questions about who was going to protest and what they were protesting. The answers to those questions sealed the decision. The station had no reason to believe any of the protestors were local.

"They came in and they were protesting an issue of genocide in South Africa," Kellerman said. "So it was people who are not local protesting an issue that is not of local importance. You feel like they are coming to Little Rock because people will shove cameras in their face and maybe national news will pick it up if there is an incident.

" ... What if nobody covered them and nothing happened and it didn’t make national news and no one cared?"

The station did say there was a journalistic obligation to forewarn the public that there was going to be a Saturday afternoon rally, so it aired a brief mention of it a week and a half before the event and said that the station planned not to give the event further coverage unless something newsworthy happened.

The newscast said that viewers who wanted to know more about the newsroom's reasoning could go to the KARK website, where Kellerman wrote in part:

The last thing I want to do is censor the news from you. We’re telling you about it so that you’re aware — and we’ll let you know if anything major happens. However, we won’t give them what they’re looking for. They won’t get that “attention grab” and extended camera time.

The station sent a photojournalist to be on the ground near the protestors and planted a reporter and photojournalist on top of a nearby building to watch from afar.

"There were 15 people in the Nazi movement on the Capitol steps and between 50 and 100 counter-protestor types showed up" Kellerman said. "There were probably more cops than people actually attending."

None of it made the air.

FTVLive gives Kellerman props for showing restraint and not going for the easy ratings grab.

H/T Poynter