Last week, I was invited to take part in a panel discussion at Thorton's Everest College about the impact of the media on crime victims. In front of a criminal justice class, I joined the Denver Post's Miles Moffeit, 9News anchor Bob Kendrick and June Menger, whose son’s execution-style murder in Boulder is still unsolved after 25 years, to talk about our experiences on opposite sides of the lens or the notebook. Along the way, Kendrick, who's recently made headlines of his own after the announcement that his contract wouldn't be renewed (get details in the October 29 blog "Why It's No Surprise 9News is Bidding Farewell to Bob Kendrick") turned the conversation from the effect the media has on crime victims to the effect the media was having on him.
Menger’s son, Sidney Wells, had been dating Robert Redford's daughter Shauna at the time of his death, so her family became the center of a media circus. Instructor Derek Regensburger, who assembled the panel, asked Menger to tell her story and then posed questions about the role of journalism in covering crime and its potential to do good or harm. Kendrick took his time to lament the ways in which the 24-hour news cycle, along with entertainment news shows and websites like TMZ.com, had hurt his industry. He said coverage was increasingly dictated by ratings instead of newsworthiness.
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As he criticized the state of journalism, the elephant in the room was the recent announcement about his status at Channel 9 -- until, that is, Kendrick brought up the situation himself. He admitted that one story in particular made him livid: "9News Anchor Bob Kendrick Hit By Economy," an article written by Dusty Saunders for the November 3 Rocky Mountain News.
The piece, which featured information attributed by an unnamed "broadcasting source," said Kendrick’s dismissal was "about 80 percent due to salary." Saunders wrote that Kendrick was making nearly $400,000 annually, which the Gannett-owned station could no longer afford while also paying Adele Arakawa’s $500,000 per year. It also put Kathy Sabine’s salary at $400,000.
Kendrick said columnist Saunders hadn’t checked his facts or even bothered to call him or any of the other news personalities whose salaries he quoted. The story’s information was simply not true, he insisted, and he told the students that he wasn’t the only one in the 9News studios fuming about it last week. Since then, he went on, several other publications and critics had ran with the numbers, treating them as fact. Kendrick was appalled that journalistic standards have fallen so low.
Unfortunately, though, he didn’t use his appearance as an opportunity to set the record straight with the real salary figures. -- Jessica Centers