News Reporter Risks It All on Live TV
In today’s corporate media, there are two things that can get you in trouble: honesty and truth. A news anchor in Los Angeles had a moment of both, and it cost him his job.
36-year-old Mark Mester, of the Los Angeles-based TV channel KTLA, was live on his show on the morning of September 17 when he addressed his former colleague Lynette Romero, Emmy Award-winning anchor-reporter, to pay a tribute to her.
KTLA had recently announced the departure of Romero from the channel without giving her an opportunity to say farewell to her audience. So when Mester addressed Romero, he went off the script and spoke his ad-libbed monologue.
“What the viewers experienced was rude, it was cruel, it was inappropriate and we are so sorry,” said Mester, who offered an apology to Romero over the channel’s treatment. He added, “You are my best friend and you did not deserve what happened to you on Wednesday.”
The link to the news video has been taken down.
Later in the segment, after showing moments from Romero’s professional and personal life achievements to his viewers, Mester reminded his audience that he is going to be honest with them.
However, this practice of truth and honesty on the set of a news show didn’t sit well with Mester’s channel – they felt insulted and attacked by his criticism. To show Mester who’s really the master at the studio, KTLA quickly moved to first suspend and later fire him. Station manager Janene Drafs reportedly announced his termination on Thursday afternoon to staffers.
While it was reported that KTLA was having some issues with Mester’s temper and defiant attitude at the workplace, the channel’s decision to fire him appears to be the obvious and direct result of Mester’s refusal to follow the script the show’s producer had provided for the segment about Romero’s departure. Mester seemed to have made up his mind that he wanted to speak his own mind and not the script handed to him.
What happened to Mester is routine in business: you bash your employer, and you are shown the door.
But it’s not common in the news world for someone to intentionally ditch the script and let one’s heart speak. In doing so, Mester lost his livelihood but he gave his audience a rare moment of real and believable TV. For this, he surely deserves a pat on the back.