GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (LifeSiteNews) — Two executives at a local Michigan news outlet were reportedly fired after collaborating on a memo urging reporters to present a balanced approach to coverage of LGBT events and celebrations during “pride” month. Two other executives who publicly denounced the memo were also fired.
As LifeSiteNews previously reported, Nexstar Media, which operates the largest number of local TV stations in the U.S., opened an investigation into Grand Rapids, Michigan, NBC affiliate WOOD TV8 after an assistant news director told journalists last month to report on “both sides” of LGBT issues to better serve their audience.
Grand Rapids, Michigan, @NBCNews affiliate WOOD TV8 is under-fire after one of its assistant news directors told journalists to report on ‘both sides’ of the LGBT issue.https://t.co/5FY21YgNzu#LGBT #journalism #michigan #news
— LifeSiteNews (@LifeSite) June 20, 2023
WOOD TV8 director Stanton Tang reportedly asked assistant director Amy Fox to write the memo that advised reporters that they shouldn’t just cover “every Pride event that we learn about,” adding that journalists must “discern the newsworthy-ness of the event” and “consider how to make the story balanced and get both sides of the issue.”
“We know that West Michigan is a [c]onservative area in many ways,” Fox wrote. “We need to recognize that some stories related to LGBTQ issues are going to be controversial and polarizing in our community,”
“While you personally may not agree with a certain position, people are entitled to their opinions, and they are our viewers,” she said.
But the memo urging journalistic neutrality sparked outrage within the newsroom and triggered an investigation for allegedly running afoul of “Nexstar’s values.”
Tang and Fox were reportedly fired after the blow-up over the memo — and they aren’t alone.
After the memo leak, numerous WOOD TV8 employees publicly denounced the call for balance and declared they were ignoring the advice.
“This memo was met with immediate pushback from our newsroom,” executive producer Luke Stier said on Twitter. “The guidance is not being followed.”
Fellow executive producer Madeline Odle similarly tweeted that employees “immediately pushed back” against the directive “and called it to the attention of upper management.”
“This memo does not reflect our views,” Odle wrote. “It has not and will not change how we cover members of our community.”
Amid Nexstar’s investigation of the memo and subsequent controversy, Odle and Stier were also reportedly fired from WOOD TV8.
“After 20 combined years in one of the best newsrooms in America, we are waking up reading the news instead of writing it,” Stier and Odle said in a statement shared to Twitter on June 30.
“We’ve had a front row seat to history for countless events in the city we love, working with the best journalists in the industry,” they said. “We are heartbroken to not be with our team today continuing the incredible legacy we have fought so hard for.”
The executives said their non-compete clause is still in effect, forcing them to face “unexpected career changes.”
Catholic Vote noted that the firing of the four WOOD TV8 executives “has angered both conservatives and liberals.”
The controversy comes as Americans have long recognized that so-called “mainstream” media outlets have a distinct left-wing bias, though local outlets have generally achieved a stronger reputation for objectivity.
“Conservatives have protested against firing Tang and Fox because they stood up for good journalism, but liberals are outraged that Odle and Stier, who support LGBTQ+ ideas, were let go,” the outlet noted.
Catholic Vote said it was unable to reach Tang and Fox and that Odle and Stier declined to comment on their firing.