STAFF EDITORIAL | Fox 59 procedures scrutinized

During his Jan. 25 show, Jon Stewart poked fun at a broadcast segment by an Indianapolis new station conducting a “Homeless Talent Search.”

The Fox 59 segment was inspired by the success of Ted Williams, a homeless man from Columbus, Ohio. Williams who, after being discovered by a local reporter, was given countless job offers due to his “magic voice.”

We at The Butler Collegian find Fox’s attempt to make light of this situation deplorable. Indianapolis’ homeless are not here to be put on display for the entertainment of others.

While Ted Williams is an inspirational exception to the rule, it is unprofessional to ask homeless people to sing “Amazing Grace” on television.

Williams was discovered Jan. 5 by Columbus Dispatch reporter Doral Chenoweth after Chenoweth spotted him by a highway off ramp.  Chenoweth had a camera and filmed Williams saying a few phrases.  This video immediately became a viral sensation and quickly made it to the evening media outlets.

Job offers began pouring in for Williams and he ended up taking a position with MSNBC to do voice-overs for their latest “Lean Forward” campaign. However, a weekend of instant fame did Williams in and he relapsed into an alcohol addiction. After making an appearance on the “Dr. Phil Show,” Williams went to a rehabilitation center for treatment.

Williams’ story is remarkable and inspirational for millions of Americans, reminding us that even in the darkest times there are always great opportunities. Fox’s poor attempt at recreating this was not only in poor taste, but offensive.

A Fox 59 reporter stopped a homeless woman on the streets of Indianapolis, asking her if she had a “golden voice.” She then continued to probe this woman to sing, supplying her with verses she had forgotten. Then she targeted the woman ‘s sister, who was located across the street.

We are really disappointed in the professionalism, or lack there of, in the Fox 59 news network. The homeless are not to be paraded on television for amusement. While we don’t believe this to be the individual reporter’s idea, we do wonder who was responsible and how many individuals approved of the piece before it aired. We would assume that stories go through a stringent approval process before Fox 59 airs a broadcast.  Therefore, we were shocked that this even made it past a production meeting and to the air.

The fact that it nabbed the attention of media giants like Jon Stewart to use for comedic material on a national level only reinforces how large of a mistake Fox 59 truly made. Although the station issued an apology on their Facebook page, we do not think it is sufficient for the audacity of their actions.

Media work is by no means an easy occupation. There are many lines that cannot be crossed and Fox 59 sprinted over the boundary with this latest broadcast.

As journalists, events like these are not only upsetting, but paint the media in a negative light.  The actions of Fox 59 not only embarrassed and took advantage of the homeless and their situation, they also tarnish the image of journalists and their standards of professionalism.

We are extremely disappointed with Fox’s choice to run this segment on their newscast.  We hope that in the future, Fox 59 shows better judgment when approaching a story of any subject matter so there will not be a repeat of an incident like this one.