Veteran TV reporter John Schwada has posted on Facebook about his firing by Fox 11. He's not happy about it.
A week ago, I was told my KTTV contract would not be renewed. Since then, LA Observed & LA Weekly have reported on my story. But missing in all this has been any public expressions of concern - indignation? – from reporters/the journalism academy. Privately, they have muttered darkly, sympathized. But publicly – in forums where newspeople best practice our craft, express our values – my profession has been silent.
Nearly, two years ago, I wrote a blog about the layoffs of a third of KTTV's newsroom. When it went viral (in the limited world of LA TV journalism), KTTV gm Kevin Hale told me how pained he was that I had hurt the station's image and – perhaps more painful for him – that he had received a bullet from New York//Fox asking why my embarrassing observations were being posted on the station's own website.
Inside, he notes the lack of public reaction from AFTRA or "the journalism academy," and is disappointed in colleagues, especially those "young and pretty and docile," for staying silent.
My "firing" (not effective until Aug. 12) has been a shot across the bow of every KTTV reporter. Privately, my colleagues say: "if they're getting rid of you, who's next?" Actually they have nothing to fear - if they stay young and pretty and docile. And, from their failure to publicly show concern when a seasoned and repeatedly honored reporter, is sacked, I think they're well down the road to…self-preservation.
But really what disturbs me most is the silence from my union, AFTRA, and from the journalism academy. When a veteran reporter for no good journalistic reason is dismissed, where are their independent voices? Some of these folks are even protected by tenure? Their silence is particularly disappointing.
These are my regrets. Now my hopes: Although I believe that KTTV has made a serious error in releasing me in defiance of the high regard in which I am held, my productivity as a reporter, I do believe - I need to believe - that other stations, other venues will value my experience, my courage, my integrity. To succumb to cynicism and despair is a living death.