It’s about telling the complete story

August 8th, 2012 at 1:23 pm by under 10 On Your Side, News, Personalities, Sports, Uncategorized

I’d like to offer my perspective on the story about Gabby’s mom receiving bankruptcy protection a few months before her family stood (and stands) to cash in on millions of dollars in endorsement deals from the Olympics. People mistakenly believe WAVY generated this story. We did not. It was reported by the Associated Press; and because it came across the AP wire, newspapers and television stations in Virginia and across the country ran it. Ours was one of them.

I know there are many people who want nothing to tarnish an otherwise feel-good story. But the complete story is not entirely feel-good; if we don’t tell you this fact when we know it to be the truth we would not be responsibly doing our job. I suspect that other news outlets ran the AP story for the same reason. We stand behind our decision to run it. We would have no justification for keeping it from you, just as we didn’t hide any one of the numerous positive stories on Gabby’s accomplishments leading up to and during the Olympics. We celebrated her wins (in one story, we wrote: “Gabby…touched the hearts of millions with her winning routines and golden smiles”). We told those stories. Now a story comes along that is not positive, yet gives a more complete picture and some viewers ask us to apologize for reporting it?

Consider this: if a news outlet knew something about a story and was withholding it from you, wouldn’t you wonder why? And wouldn’t you wonder what else it was withholding from you? The media is often accused of slanting the news, leaving out things,  or manipulating the viewer to think or feel a certain way. Here, the exact opposite happened. And because we gave you as complete a story as we know it, you get to decide how much weight, if any, to give to the story. Would you feel differently about the story if you were one of the creditors who was owed money? As I’ve read some of these Facebook comments, I wonder how people would have reacted had they been given only the positive aspects of the story, only later to learn that the whole truth includes some negatives. Would they feel duped? I can assure you we will always try to tell you the truth, as completely as we can, even if it’s unpopular, even if it doesn’t jive with the feel-good image some viewers insist we make the story out to be.

I am not trying to sway anyone’s opinion, nor change anyone’s mind. Just giving my perspective.

Jim Gilchriest

News Director

WAVY/WVBT

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8 Responses to “It’s about telling the complete story”

  1. Would I feel differently if I were a creditor?

    My goodness, Sir, we can all look back and wonder how and why we did what we did (and do) to survive. The truth, as we all know, is that there was NO way that Gabby, her mom, nor the bankruptcy judge knew that Gabby would win gold!

    The debt was not of Gabby’s doing. Neither is it her responsibility to fix now. I’m excited that Gabby’s discipline and dedication to her sport brought us a new and healthy perspective on dream making! We have a new American princess!

    I can only surmise that this ‘news article’ as told by your countless colleagues hurt both of them deeply. I hope and pray, that their faith will continue to see them through as they prepare for their next steps – forward.

  2. Wythe says:

    Mr. Gilchriest, thank you for your perspective, and the link to the original story. My perspective is that a mistake was made. Your opening explanation that a few months before her family stood (and stands) to cash in on millions of dollars in endorsement deals from the Olympics, is far reaching. You seem to indicate this was a plan by the parent, to cash in on the future.
    Nice try. A mistake was made. Say so.

  3. disappointed says:

    Just because everyone else did it does not make it right. You made a choice. You could have stood for something greater, but you felt that running the most provocative story was more important. YOU made the choice.

  4. Ari says:

    In light of this clarification, I would like to add that the bankruptcy was filed as a chapter 13. That means she is making efforts to pay it back. Also, the earnings of Gabby belong to Gabby. What mo.ster of a parent would want to cash in or take advantage of the child’s wealth? I am sure Gabby will help her mother out and maybe pay the debt owed. But it is wrong for some to assume that this debt is in som way Gabbys responsibility. She is a minor. The mother did what she felt was financially right at the time to save their home and readjust her finances. She made a business decision to save what was left. She didn’t leave her creditors high and dry she was acknowledging her debts and restructuring. This is bad publicity in a lot ways as it tarnished the golden moment that Gabby had. The moment wasn’t to be about the mother, it was about Gabby. Let’s refocus as I am sure there are many in the USA that have filed for bankruptcy…truly how many can say they won gold Olympic medals?

  5. Harry says:

    First and formost, any possible “cash in on millions” is/was only a POSSIBILITY. Her mother filed for bankruptcy as many other people have done to protect themselves from creditors. It takes a tremendous amount of talent and MONEY to get to the elite status these athletes attain. Help along the way is needed at most every turn. I have not read, or know much about the whole story.
    I know one thing though … SUCCESS and GOLD is NOT a lock for anyone. How about our other athletes??? I heard several of them are also in dire financial straights as well. Reading about Gabby’s mother does kinda single her out. Check a little deeper and you will see that MANY American
    athletes are in the same position.

  6. Yvette Dyson says:

    I understand you have to tell a story and not withhold information that affects that story; however in this case her mother filing bankruptcy had nothing to do with Gabby. Why didn’t you run a story about how winning the medals bring more debts to Gabby and her family and how much our country is charging her in taxes on those medals. There were and are no guarantees on how much she will make in endorsements, but it is guaranteed that with or without them taxes will be due on those medals. That is how our country thanks our athletes. Write a story about that! America wants winning athletes, but it is the athletes and their families that suffer financially in the years and years of training. Not much help from Uncle Sam! Write a story about that. Why her mother filed bankruptcy??? Think about it. Could it maybe be so her daughter could achieve a dream, a dream to make herself and her country the best at the Olympics and you news people put a negative spin on it! She should be commended for doing as much as she could to help her child achieve a goal, not many parents out there even care or believe in their childrens dreams. And doing this as a single parent in recent years is also a testiment to her strength.

  7. Chris K. says:

    Wavy is like any other newstation, they choose what is reported and what is not. It would be impossible to report on every shred of news out there, some has to stay on the editing room floor. What gets told, essentially, is the news that will get the most ratings. The other stories that the viewers might not be so concerned with will usually be cut to make way for more important stories. Afterall, why broadcast something that no one wants to see? Selective journalism happens every day, in every facet of the business. Sometimes it skews the view to be slanted in one direction or another.
    I believe this reponse misses the point of the post on facebook (the one with 30k views and rising). There aould be no cover up by not running the story of the financial woes, it would have been another story that stayed on the cutting room floor because it wasn’t as newsworthy as other ones. Wavy has a website, it could have just as easy posted it there instead of broadcasting it over our television sets. Nothing would have covered up, the news would have still been told. But that really wasnt the intent. The reason it was on tv was because Wavy thought it was very important for its viewers to see it above the cast off stories laying on the editing room floor. It’s all about ratings, but Wavy misjudged its viewers. Unlike the morbid fasination that preoccupies many viewers, a good portion of those watching would have rather heard about a different story. This may be just my opinion, but i still belive Wavy let its viewers down and chose to run a negative story simply for ratings, and not to ensure the story was told…or retold.

  8. Mary says:

    I think the fact that she was under bankruptcy protection only goes to show just how big God is. Like Job in the Bible….God took this familys tragedy and turned it into triumph. If I were them I would be proud to say I was bankrupt and God pulled us through…what a blessing. The fact that they were struggling makes the story all the better to me.

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