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Your View: Artists Criticize Fire Poster Story

Posted: Jun 1, 2012 5:18 PM by Christine Karsten
Updated: Jun 7, 2012 2:04 PM

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COLUMBIA - KOMU 8's story this week about the Brookside fire and a lookalike poster that appeared to show the complex burning weeks before the fire angered some people in the local arts community.

Local blogger Zac Early said the poster story just plain wasn't newsworthy, calling it "sensationalism".

"Maybe KOMU should have held on because if that is the only piece of information you have, most right minded viewers are thinking this flyer has nothing to do with it, so why are we spending time on this?" Early said.

KOMU 8 News Director Stacey Woelfel said, "Anybody that heard that there was a picture that appeared to show the apartments on fire a few weeks before said, 'Tell me more, I want to know more,' so that is what we went to go find."

Early wrote in his blog that KOMU 8 left the artist, Ben Chlapek, faceless in its story.

"On my post I mention you could Google. Googling Ben Chlapek and you would find the kind of work Ben does and the ways in which he contributed." Early said.

But Chlapek refused to go on camera for the original story, relying on his lawyer to give a written statement for the story. Kristin Torres, another viewer upset by the coverage of the flyer said, "I'm not blind. I see how it may be appropriate that Ben's poster be considered in a complete investigation, even if it eventually is ruled out as being irrelevant. But that is of the concern of the Columbia Police Officials, not the local TV News Station. Frankly, I don't even see how it's of concern to viewers."

In response Woelfel said, "I think it's a weird coincidence and I think people love to hear stories about things like that. It's just an odd thing and that makes it newsworthy."

When KOMU 8 News asked Early what he thinks the station should have done differently he said, "I know KOMU is a place to learn, so there is somebody who is overlooking that and saying, you know what, we need more information, and we don't need to go with this on live broadcast or whatever we cant wait another broadcast, we can wait until tomorrow when we have all of the information."

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