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Do you think either party behaved unethically in this case?(300 Words)

WPAC—a television station based in Yuma, Arizona—had been experiencing a ratings decline for several years. In 2009, the station switched from a CBS to NBC affiliate. That has explained some of the ratings decline. However, in recent months, the ratings have continued to slide. Eventually, the station manager, Lucien Stone, decided he had to make a change to the local newscast.

After meeting with the programming manager, Stone called a meeting of WPAC employees and announced his intention to “spice things up” during the 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. local news. The 30-minute broadcasts would still include the traditional “top stories,” “sports,” and “weather” segments. However, on slow news days, more attention getting material would be used. Stone also indicated some programming decisions would probably be revisited. “The days of Little House on the Prairie are over,” he said.

Madison Devereaux, 29, had been the chief meteorologist for WPAC since 2010. After receiving her degree in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma in 2007, she joined WPAC and quickly worked her way up the ranks, impressing viewers and WPAC management alike with her extension knowledge and articulate, professional, mistake-free delivery

Though she was Christian, Devereaux never was one to go around “thumping Bibles in the newsroom,” as she put it. Most of those at WPAC weren’t even aware of Madison’s religious views.

Devereaux was troubled by the announced changes to WPAC’s programming but didn’t speak up at the time. One Monday during a pre-production meeting, she learned that on Thursday of that week, WPAC reporter Sam Berkshow would present a segment called “Dancing Around the Economy,” which would focus on how local strip clubs were doing well despite the sluggish economy.

Devereaux didn’t think it was appropriate to air the segment during the 5 p.m. newcast and asked both her producer and Stone to reconsider the piece, or at least air it in the 10 p.m. time slot. When they refused, she asked whether she could take the day off when the segment aired. Stone again refused. This was “sweeps week” (when ratings are calculated), Stone wanted to air the story now, and Devereaux’s contract prohibited her from taking time off during sweeps week.

When Devereaux didn’t show up for work that Thursday, WPAC fired her, arguing she had breached her contract. For her part, Devereaux said, “I’m not angry with the station, but I am sorry about the changes that have taken place.”

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Samantha Balando
Samantha BalandoLv7
29 Sep 2019

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