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Michigan TV Station Fires Four After Pride Coverage Controversy

Michigan TV Station Fires Four After Pride Coverage Controversy


An internal memo was circulated at the station calling for reduced coverage of Pride month events.

WOOD TV8, a West Michigan television station, has terminated four employees – two members of news leadership and two producers – after an internal memo leaked ordering scaled-back Pride month coverage.

Per The Desk, WOOD TV news director Stanton Tang and assistant news director Amy Fox were fired for their part in drafting and sending out the memo, which urged staffers to sideline their coverage of local Pride month-related events.

“We should not cover every Pride event that we learn about," the memo reportedly read. "We need to do some work to discern the newsworthy-ness of the event. If we are covering Pride events, we need to consider how to make the story balanced and get both sides of the issue.”

The note, written by Fox at Tang's behest, cited "pushback from viewers who are not happy to see those Pride-related stories” as a primary reason to cut back on the coverage.

"We need to recognize that some stories related to LGBTQ issues are going to be controversial and polarizing in our community," it continued. "While you personally may not agree with a certain position, people are entitled to their opinions and they are our viewers."

Two executive producers at the station, Luke Stier and Madeline Odle, were also fired after WOOD TV's corporate parent, Nexstar Media Group, accused them of leaking the memo to news outlets.

At the time of the memo, Stier tweeted, "This memo was met with immediate pushback from our newsroom. The guidance is not being followed. The only two people involved in its creation have been removed from any discussions surrounding @WOODTV Pride coverage as our corporation conducts a thorough investigation."

The pair said in a statement posted online that they were told their non-compete clauses remain in effect despite being fired, which may prevent them from joining other Michigan newsrooms.

“We’ve had a front row seat to history for countless events in the city we love, working with the best journalists in the industry. We are heartbroken to not be with our team today continuing the incredible legacy we have fought so hard for,” the statement said.

In a statement shared on Twitter, Michigan Rep. Phil Skaggs called for WOOD TV and Nexstar to reinstate Stier and Odle.

"Nexstar Media's decision to fire the courageous whistleblowers – Luke Stier and Madeline Odle – is wrong," he wrote. "The termination of journalists, simply because they wanted to inform us about the diverse human interests of our community cannot stand."

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