Chicago TV-Police Case: Giving News To Get News?


Chicago television reporter Amy Jacobson has confirmed that her sudden departure last week from WMAQ-Ch. 5 came after her former bosses accused her “of getting too close to the police” while reporting on the case of missing mother Lisa Stebic. Jacobson told Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn that on occasion she shared information with Plainfield police investigating Lisa’s disappearance. “You give news to get news,” she said. “That’s always how it’s been.”

Once she went to the Stebic home to ask Lisa’s husband, Craig, about reports that drops of Lisa’s blood were found on a tarp in his vehicle. “I said, ‘Where did the blood come from?'” Jacobson said. “He said it was animal blood. So I called the police and told them what he said. Then I did my live shot.” Journalism experts said it’s acceptable to ask police a specific question in response to a statement by the subject of a story, but not to simply tell police what was said. Jon Ziomek, an associate professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, said, “Reporters are not police, and police are not reporters. She’s acting almost as an intermediary, on a spur of the moment basis. [] She doesn’t express clear lines between her job and the job of police.” He added: “A reporter who gets information that could change an investigation has an obligation to provide that” to authorities.


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