Many visitors to the site have used the FAX FOR FREE feature to send notes to Fox management. Fox is replying with copies of a prepared news release issued when the suit was filed. The following is reaction from Jane Akre and Steve Wilson to that release. A link back to the full text of that release follows.
Akre and Wilson Respond to WTVT Release
First-year-journalism students and viewers with no journalistic training whatsoever can decide for themselves whether our scripts were objective. That is precisely why we have posted them to this web site right along with the doctored version Fox attorney's insisted upon. And the claim that we were not willing to "accept editorial oversight and news counsel" is belied by the pile of at least 73 different versions which were written and re-written over the course of nearly eight months. We prepared each of those in response to editorial oversight and directives from station lawyers who could never be satisfied.
It should also be pointed out, with no disrespect intended, that Mr. Boylan is a career salesman who has never worked professionally as a journalist. Prior to his year as Fox Vice President and General Manager in Tampa, he was in charge of just one other television station (in High Point, North Carolina). We bring this up only to point out why he may not be aware that "standard operating procedure in a responsible newsroom" does not include allowing lawyers to ultimately control the editorial process. In responsible newsrooms, that is traditionally and rightly the function of editors and news managers. Even when the station news director was satisfied with the fairness and balance of early versions of this story, it was the Fox lawyers who overruled the decision to broadcast.
As for the claim we were never directed to broadcast any false information, we can't wait to bring to court all the memos and binders full of documentation we provided Fox managers and lawyers.
Mr. Boylan would have you believe this important information about alleged health risks was never broadcast simply due to "journalistic differences (which) could not be resolved despite the station's extraordinary efforts to completed this story..." Well, it has been more than four months since we were fired for refusing to tell the story in what we have said was an inaccurate and slanted way. So ask yourself this simple question: What effort has the station made to assign another reporter to make the information available to viewers? None. Instead, the Fox 13 "investigative unit" has been directed to devote its valuable time and resources to things like exposing which local pizza parlor puts the least cheese on your pizza!
And finally, Mr. Boylan says our revelation that he offered us both nearly $200,000 essentially to go away and keep quiet "can in no way be characterized as 'hush money'." He claims that after he decided to fire us as incompetent reporters, he wanted to pay us that kind of money just to offer the station advice on journalism in the future.
When we filed our lawsuit and began speaking out about it, we included plenty of specific examples to back up our allegations. Have you noticed even one specific example to support Fox's contention that our reporting was inaccurate or unfair? Meanwhile, news of our case is also bringing to light similar questions of journalistic ethics at other Fox news operations. In the meantime, judge this group's credibility by re-reading the paragraph just above this one. When this case comes to trial, we believe you will clearly see that the truth and logic behind their other defenses is just as sound and reliable as their "hush money" denial.
Full text of WTVT/Fox13 News Release