Forget about crossing the ethical line, this WFLD Contributor has blown right past the line and kept on going.
Robert Feder writes that Susanna Negovan’s report last week on “Good Day Chicago” struck some staffers at WFLD-Channel 32 as more brazen and more obnoxious than anything she’d ever done before. And that’s saying a lot.
Ever since she began as a daily contributor to the Fox station’s morning newscast, Negovan has boasted about free stuff she gets from companies she promotes on the show. “She tells people in the newsroom how she never pays for a spa service and brags about the free handbags, accessories and expensive makeup she gets, all from companies featured in her news segments,” one co-worker said. “She doesn’t even have the smarts to shut up about it.”
Negovan’s full-time job is publisher and editor of Splash, the celebrity supplement published by Sun-Times Media and featuring Jenny McCarthy as a columnist. She was hired to launch the weekly by Michael Ferro, chairman of Wrapports LLC, after she’d served four years as founding editor of Michigan Avenue magazine. Sun-Times readers may remember her from ”Susanna’s Night Out,” the nightlife column she began writing a dozen years ago.
A 1995 graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, Negovan has spent most of her career in the ethically murky intersection of advertising, public relations, news and publishing. As a free-lance contributor to “Good Day Chicago,” she’s been operating in a way that Fox would not condone for full-time employees.
But last Monday’s piece was over the top by any standard. It was a report on a private party in Chicago for customers of Tiffany & Co. who’d spent a million dollars or more on jewelry. Negovan shot video of herself trying on a $750,000 diamond bracelet and other baubles at the event, which she attended with her husband, Tom Negovan, a reporter for Tribune Broadcasting WGN-Channel 9.
“I had black cod. My husband had filet mignon. It was a really elegant catered affair,” Negovan told viewers. “We probably each had about a thousand dollars in wine and champagne. They had roses at each centerpiece. I mean it was just incredibly elaborate. Just a very elegant night.”
Here’s the kicker: “Before the party what was so cool is they dropped off a box at my house, and they had gifts for me, including this vase — a crystal vase — and a Tiffany book,” Negovan said, displaying the trademark blue box on the air. “Which is so cool before a party to actually receive like a gift.”
Negovan’s admission prompted one incredulous employee to wonder: “You do a commercial for Tiffany and then show the free gifts you received at the end?” Calling it “a blatant ethical lapse no one else at any real news station would tolerate,” the source said complaints about her to general manager Dennis Welsh and news director Tom Doerr have gone unheeded.