"19 Action News" News Director Exits – Warning, Rant Ahead!

This has been around the rumor mill for a day or two, but the Plain Dealer’s Julie Washington confirms it in this morning’s PD. WOIO/WUAB “19 Action News” news director Steven Doerr is leaving the station at the end of the month, bound for a job with a research company in Dallas. (Doerr will be staying in the Cleveland area, though.)

Washington’s article touches on what you’d expect – 19’s swashbuckling style under Doerr, including the now-infamous “Body of Art” series featuring unclad anchor Sharon Reed… and also notes 19 hiring former WKBN/27 Youngstown anchor Catherine Bosley as a reporter. Like Reed, viewers saw a bit too much of Bosley after nude pictures of her at a Key West bar flew out over the Internet.

However, OMW would like to make a few comments here:

* Don’t expect “19 Action News” to pull back from the edge, with Doerr’s departure. The in-your-face tabloid style is clearly the creation of WOIO/WUAB VP/GM Bill Applegate, who’s certainly not leaving. Anyone who watches Applegate’s televised commentaries would know that. When WOIO was battling Cleveland mayor Jane Campbell’s office, Applegate was right there, delivering a strong, impassioned defense of the station’s right not to get “shut out of City Hall” by Her Honor. (And while we chuckled at the “We Were Thrown Out of City Hall!” promos, and while the Mayor generally has a right to run her press operations the way she wants, OMW generally thought Ms. Campbell was being petty in that situation.)

As far as a new ND goes – look for a hire along the lines of the former Cleveland Free Press editor who spent a turn in the “19 Action News” newsroom a while back. We’re not saying “HIM”, as OMW doesn’t know why he’s no longer there, but someone of that nature…fitting in with WOIO’s style.

* We saw Catherine Bosley on “Action News” again yesterday, doing more field reporting. Though we did shed light on her past (even in this missive!), we’d like to “go positive” for a moment or two. Ms. Bosley does a fine job on the air, and despite that past, her hire was a Good Thing for “Action News”. The situation which happened was an unfortunate series of events, and poor judgment on her part down in Florida, but it’s long over with, and we don’t believe Ms. Bosley should have to wear that like the proverbial albatross around her neck the rest of her TV news career.

However, her WOIO counterpart, Ms. Reed, made a conscious decision to do the “Body of Art” series, which her bosses likely instantly drooled over…and not for the nudity, but for the historic sweeps ratings which the series predictably delivered.

Yes, we know Sharon Reed continues to defend the series, and takes the journalistic moral high ground about her “first person” story. And it’s not like we don’t believe she feels she did the right thing.

But again, we remind her…if it had been WOIO reporter Paul Orlousky pitching a story about going naked at a world-famous photo shoot, he’d have been laughed out of the newsroom. (Or heck, they may have done it, but as a curiosity “look at our guy reporter going naked, ha ha!” funny piece…with a large amount of blurring.)

The series only got done because Sharon is an attractive young woman who shed her clothing on camera, and that combination fueled WOIO’s ratings. And anyone who doubts that, need only be pointed to the promos the station ran incessantly – with the station’s promo voice imploring viewers to “Watch Sharon Reed’s Body…(pause, truck drives through, sun sets and rises again)…of Art!”…

Note, again, this is the station which had a male “regular Cleveland guy” voice on one of its promos talking about how anchor Denise Dufala was “easy on the eyes, if you know what I mean”…

OK, 19 Action News Rant Mode – off!

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