"Not eating chard. That's what all those weirdos eat at their stupid picnics on the Hungry Ghost lawn." -Nina

November 08, 2007

WWLP22 News: Crack, Cocaine, Heroin, And Automatic Weapons Saturate Northampton

I was in town on Main St. this past Monday when a reporter for WWLP 22 News, Kala Rama, grabbing video and audio for the report above, was in front of the Haymarket talking to a young man about drug use in Northampton. When she finished, I asked her what kind of story WWLP 22 News was putting together, and upon hearing that it was about "drug use in Northampton", I directed her to the needle exchange on Center St., and encouraged her to go there and speak with the employees, who might be better able to offer some opinions and facts about drug use in Northampton. Kala Rama expressed surprise that there was a needle exchange here. "There is a needle exchange here!?" She demanded, more than once, to know where. I pointed her there, and explained to her that it was one of only four in the state, and the only one in Western Ma. I also offered my opinion that it was a great program, and helped keep disease and death from spreading. She asked me how that is so, and I explained that if people are using clean needles, which are not carrying disease, they will not be sharing dirty needles which might be carrying HIV or Hepatitis C, as is common. According to Tapestry Health's website, sharing dirty needles is a leading cause of HIV and Hep C infections. To Kala's credit, that was the only fair and factually based statement included in the whole report, and I imagine that was WWLP 22 News' attempt at being fair and responsible. Though she had to be coached on it, I am glad it was included.

Kala Rama peppered me some more questions. "Do you know people who do drugs?" "Is drug use a problem in Northampton?" "I heard someone died of an overdose in a bathroom nearby."

I let her know that I had recently photo documented a heroin addict here in town, while he picked up some needles, mixed and heated his drugs, and then injected them with a needle, and I had offered to send them to her via email if she thought that would be relevant. I quickly had second thoughts though, as I imagined it very possible that WWLP 22 News, and Kala Rama, had no intention of being informative or useful via the news report they were putting together, and instead would probably edit something together that was purposely misleading and inflammatory.

I could not have imagined how patently silly and downright fantastical the report turned out to be. With no pretense of actually reporting a story that was useful, based in reality, or respectful of the current knowledge base of the community, it seems that WWLP 22 News had only one goal here. Titillate, inflame, and create fear.

I sent Kala and WWLP 22 News an email after seeing this report, and respectfully noted to them that broadcasts such as the one above are exactly why I, nor literally anyone I know, any longer watch the local TV news. I can't recall the last time I saw a local nightly news cast, but I remember them being occasionally informative, though for the most part, their 30 minute broadcasts seem to be completely offensive, and inexplicably targeted to a population of people who have no ability to differentiate between fact and fiction.

It is my hope that officials in City Hall, and residents of Northampton are made aware of the report featured above, and formally express their disappointment with WWLP 22 News for disseminating reports like this. Further, I would hope that the Mayor's Office and all City Department Heads cut off all access to WWLP 22 News reporters until they offer a formal apology for this incredibly irresponsible and purposely misleading report.

You can find the video broadcast online here, and here. The report was broadcast on Monday, Nov. 5th, at 6pm.

--If you feel the same way, the contact info* for WWLP 22 News is following:
contact info online
PO Box 2210
Springfield, MA 01102-2210
(main) 413.377.2200
(news) 413.377.1160

It would be appropriate to call the news room and ask for Mike Garrefy, News Director. You should lodge your complaint with him. Kala Rama, the field reported who worked on the report can be reached at:

--WWLP 22 is owned by Lin Television, based in Providence, Rhode Island. Contact below:
Contact info online
Corporate Headquarters:
One Richmond Square, Suite 230E
Providence, Rhode Island 02906
401-454-2880 (phone)
401-454-6990 (fax)

Investor Relations and Public Relations:
Courtney Guertin
Public Relations Specialist
Four Richmond Square
Providence, Rhode Island 02906
401-457-9501 (phone)
401-454-2817 (fax)

As explained to me over the phone by a LIN representative, it would be appropriate to write a letter to LIN, using the address of their corporate office above, detailing why and what your complaint is about, and address it to the Legal Department.

--Of course, WWLP News is a local affiliate of NBC, themselves owned by parent company NBC universal.
NBC Universal contact info online | NBC Headquarters
30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112
Tel 212-664-4444
Fax 212-664-4426

It would be appropriate to call 212-664-4444 and ask to speak to John Wallace, President of the Affiliate Television Division at NBC Universal, as they have oversight of local affiliate stations such as WWLP 22 News in Springfield. Alternately, you could follow up with a phone call to Jeff Zucker, president and CEO of NBC, at 212.664.2830.

--And lastly, as we all know, NBCUni is owned by General Electric, "bringing good things to life"
GE contact info online
General Electric Company
3135 Easton Tpke
Fairfield, CT 06432-1008

We deserve better from the professional news sources using the public airwave spectrum held in the public trust. We deserve informative, useful, and valuable reports that enhance the community we live in. There is no room for irresponsible and purposely misleading disinformation masquerading as journalism to be produced and disseminated by news organizations afforded public property for the production of news. And it is important to formally note that at every contact listed above.

*All the afforementioned contact information was accurate and reliable as of today.

LABELS: citizen journalism, could we should we would we, downtown, projects, media