With the rise of the online world and social media, more information is available to us than ever before. You are gracious enough to let us into your homes daily, but you don’t always get that extra look at how information gets to you. Here then is a look behind the scenes; pictures I snapped around the station, to provide an additional angle of the news and a candid look at just some of the journalists and production specialists on which you depend daily. That’s 10 on your side.
10 On Your Side
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.
6:15 a.m. – Rise and shine! There is something about the nation’s capital that makes you want to get up early and get out the door. It could be the inevitable traffic on the way into the city, especially on a day like today.
We had to stay in a hotel in northern Virginia last night because almost every room in D.C. was full ahead of today’s Supreme Court ruling on the health care law and individual mandate. A decision is expected to come around 10 o’clock this morning.
I think we may be the only people here who are not here to talk about health care. We were the first station to investigate Mo Money Taxes locally, and we want to see it through to the end.
Today a House subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security is set to discuss identity theft and income tax preparation fraud. Mo Money Taxes is likely to be at the center of discussion, with a Norfolk victim scheduled to speak about his personal struggles with the company.
The hearing starts at 9:45 so I’ve got to run! Check back for updates throughout the day. You can also follow me on Twitter. My handle is @AnneWAVY.
9:42 a.m. – I am writing from inside the Rayburn Building where the hearing is about to begin. I have learned Michael Robinson is the Norfolk victim from Rep. Bobby Scott’s district who will be testifying today. I have received Rep. Scott’s prepared statement. He will speak primarily about his constituents struggles with Mo Money. His statement references WAVY TV 10 reports. We are underway. More to come…
11:00 a.m. – Norfolk victim Michael Robinson said he learned about Mo Money from a family member. He and his wife went to Mo Money to get an estimate ($3602). He felt funny about the company and left. Later he tried to file at Jackson Hewitt and was told Mo Money had already filed for him. JH discovered IRS paid Mo Money check in his name for $5270, which he still has not received to this date. He has filed an amendment.
Mo Money has remained the main topic of discussion. Victims would be encouraged to hear how the Congressman are holding the IRS rep’s feet to the fire. She cannot comment on ongoing investigations. She told Congressman Conyers she will take his comments back to the IRS. His response: “Taking it back is not enough. I want action.”
12:38 p.m. – Hearing is over. We will have reaction from the IRS, Rep. Scott and Mo Money Norfolk victim Michael Robinson tonight at 5. Here is a picture of Michael and me after our interview. He took a train from Norfolk to get here and he did a great job despite being a little nervous.
The victim advocate from the IRS was an insightful interview. She explained some of the Mo Money schemes described by the subcommittee falls into the cracks of banking regulations, meaning no one is watching over the money. There’s some talk about increasing penalties and changing laws to incorporate direct deposit victims.
See you at 5!
Hey everybody…just wanted to share some photos from today…Day 3…the big one…
Now THAT’s an escort…fire engines and everthing! Maybe it was because Friday also always brings out a VIP guest,76th district delegate Chris Jones. We never have to worry about him keeping up, he moved like he just heard Andy Fox was coming back with more questions about tolls…ha ha ha!!! Actually Chris and Jimmy were stopped in their tracks by the ladies from O Doodle Doo’s donuts!
Officer Hale of the Newport News police department took this picture of me and Jimmy on her trusty steed after we finished today’s 14 mile stretch! She and her fellow officers from Newport News, York County and Hampton all did an excellent job once again. Thanks to all.
ou won’t find a more committed guy than Jimmy Ray. This is the 20th time Eagle 97.3′s morning man-child has gone the distance for the March of Dimes.
For most of us reading a news article with the headline: “Rising gas prices aren’t as bad as you think”, does little to comfort the pain of having to pay more and more when filling up our car. In fact, as I found out posting this on Facebook, it makes some outright furious: not only with the actual prices of gas, but also with the assumption that we somehow aren’t affected as badly as we’d like to think.
About an hour after posting this article, more than a hundred of you commented. The vast majority of you posted under the sentiment: “Yes… we ARE feeling it!”. I read through the dozens upon dozens of posts. Some of you have made some serious changes to your routine. Tina posted, “We have altered our work schedules so that we can basically share the van because it has better gas mileage. I ride my bike to the grocery store when only getting a few small things, and carpool to the sports [events] more often.”
Pamela says she’s “trying to get in a carpool at work. I just buy less food unfortunately.”
Others say they’ve traded in their gas-guzzlers for more fuel-efficient options. Sheila wrote, “I traded my large SUV in for a more affordable Honda….” And James posted that he bought a gas-saving commuter car to drive to work instead of his truck. He added, “I would have never done that if gas prices didn’t go up.”
There’s another side to this gas debate. There are those who side with the experts cited in the CNN Money article. Jennie’s comment clearly shows where she stands on this issue: “ I personally laugh at the ones complaining about increased gas, but own smart phones, ipads, etc…. [T]hey have had no problem shelling out extra money for more apps, more data, etc.”
Jason suggested, “Record how much you actually spend (on gas), and you’ll find it’s not that bad unless you need to drive a lot. It’s about the same as getting a coffee every morning.”
Michael took on a more aggressive stance, claiming we in the U.S. don’t take fuel consumption seriously enough. He posted: “Stand at an intersection in Hampton Roads. Any intersection. Watch traffic. Look at the types of vehicles moving. Big, huge, gigantic gas-guzzling vehicles with only 1 or 2 people inside. People flooring the gas pedal when the light turns green. People tailgating. And these are only a few examples of factors that contribute to poor fuel economy…. So as prices go up, and you’re scratching your head at the pump as to why prices are going up, simply look around. The reason, is US.”
Stephanie agreed with Michael. She posted, “I love how everyone is saying, ‘I go to the store less often’ and ‘we carpool more’ like these are BAD things. You should be doing that anyway, regardless of what gas prices are! If you’re not then YOU are part of the problem. Like Michael said, the problem is not the prices, it’s your consumption.”
What if we had more public transportation options? I lived in Spain for several months and was thoroughly impressed by how easy it was to live without a car. It’s a luxury those of us in some parts of Hampton Roads would really struggle without.
Talking on Europe, Schonna posted, “… NO COMPARISON! They have incredible infrastructure. Buses and metro systems give everyone an alternative. Their cars are built differently in size and fuel economy. And you have local markets for everything you need in every town. When we have all that I would be ok with $9 a gallon for gas.”
Stephanie (same as above) countered Schonna’s Europe argument writing, “Funny how you all say that Europe has better public transportation and that’s why it’s OK for their gas prices to be so high… We pay at least a dollar more than you in Chicago but we also have great public transportation. But yet when they try to build a better infrastructure for you and create public transportation (light rail) you vote against it time and time again…. You can’t have it both ways – you have to either agree to improve your public transportation or pay the higher gas prices.”
In places with more transportation options, like Washington D.C., folks are noticing more passengers riding alongside them on the trains and metro. On my WAVY Facebook page, Carleigh told me she takes the train into DC everyday, “I have noticed that the trains have been a lot more crowded lately. I also read an article on the VRE (Virginia Railway Express) yesterday that mentioned the possibility of an increase in train fares. Their reasoning… gas prices.”
From what I’ve cleaned from these comments is that most of you simply feel the article is out of touch. As Stephen put it, “Whoever wrote this obviously doesn’t work with me. Where we haven’t seen even a cost of living raise in 5 years. The numbers on everything except my paycheck are constantly on the rise.”
I emailed the author, Steve Hargreaves at CNN Money. I asked him where he came up with the idea, and if he’s gotten a lot of reaction. He replied within just a few minutes. Here’s his unedited response: “Oh yes, there’s been lots of reaction to it – mostly negative. The idea came from an old S&P study showing that, thanks to higher wages and better fuel economy, people have to work half the hours now to drive the same distance as they did in the early 1980s. The study was done using 2006 numbers, but the general premise still holds true: Gas prices don’t hurt as much now as they used to.”
As of 8:15 a.m. Friday morning (3/23/2012), Hargreaves’ article was just short of 2,000 comments.
For the sake of privacy I’ve omitted last names from the comments that I’ve taken from the Facebook thread. Thanks for all those who took the time to reply to the thread.
We tell you stories like this one on a regular basis, but it’s good to have a reminder every once in a while.
One day last week I took a call from a viewer who received a letter in the mail along with a check stating she won a foreign lottery. When she called she said she knew the check was fake and someone was trying to scam her. She wanted us to get the word out so other viewers wouldn’t fall for the scam. She sent me the letter and I promised her I would post it. Below I’ve scanned the letter, the check and the envelope and highlighted some of the signs that prove this is a scam
First comes the envelope: The first thing I notice about this envelope is it is postmarked in Canada.
The second thing I notice is there is no return address, so it’s not traceable (sneaky scammers!)
Next comes the prize letter: Did you notice the return address on the prize letter is from the United Kingdom? So now, you have a return address on the envelope (above) from Canada and a return address on the letter from the UK (hmmm).
Also the letter states the recipient has won a Mega Lottery in the UK. Did you recently travel to the UK and while you were there enter a lottery? Chances are NO!
The third thing I noticed is that they want you to keep your winnings confidential until your claim has been processed. WHY?!?!?!? Are they trying to keep you quiet so someone doesn’t warn you that it’s a scam and tell you to throw the letter away? (YEP!)
Finally, the check: As with the envelope and the letter above, check the address on the check. This check is written off of a bank account in FL. (So now you have a return address in Canada, one in the UK and one in FL? Okay!)
Then look at the return address: Certified Manufacturing, Inc. A quick Google search tells me the business is a woman-owned small business in Holt, FL that is “an industry leader in electronics manufacturing and laser wire marking for the military and aerospace industries.” (http://www.certifiedmanufacturing.com) C’mon now, do you really think they have time to get involved in a Mega Lottery in the UK? (Umm, no!)
Here’s what you can do. If you receive a letter/check like this one look for the signs. Usually they are very evident and just take a few minutes to figure out. If the letter comes through the mail, you can file a complaint with the Mail Fraud Department . Also if any portion of the mailing is postmarked from Canada, you can contact Phone Busters, the Canadian anti-fraud department and file a complaint with them. Lastly, remember if it seems to good to be true… it is. Now throw the letter away and never look back!
It could be perched on a utility pole which it’s eye fixed on cars flashing through an intersection. It can render a judgment for police against a motorist who takes liberties with a traffic signal; or maybe it’s watching you stroll outside a public building, or its lens scans the concrete ramp of a parking garage after midnight.
Surveillance cameras are popping up in various public locations in Hampton Roads; a watchful eye against human misbehavior. Privacy advocates call it something else.
“ When the government puts cameras up in public places, like parks and sidewalks, we believe it is infringing on the individual right to privacy,” says Kent Willis, Executive Director of American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. “The government has no right to track your movements unless it suspects you, individually, of being engaged in a criminal activity.”
Tracking criminal activity is the primary motivation of private business as it releases those grainy recordings of robberies, burglaries and other misdeeds that wind up on WAVY-TV. There’s no evidence to suggest surveillance in these cases “deters” criminals, but police say it greatly aids in the apprehension of those who commit these acts.
“I can say it helps us immensely as investigators,” says Detective Allison Erickson from Newport News Police. That city has seen a 33 percent drop in violent crime over the last decade. Police will not go so far as to say that decrease is linked to more use of surveillance cameras, but investigators say it’s been a help. “In cases where we may not have a witness, it gives us a witness,” says Erickson.
But the increasing presence of these electronic witnesses also concerns the ACLU.
“Keep in mind that while most cameras can now only be used to identify you in case of a crime, the way technology is developing, it won’t be long before those cameras can identify you by name. We are not far away from a time when the government may be able to know when you left your house, where you went and what you did. That should truly frighten us,” says Willis.
Mark Dionne who owns Eagle Security Solutions, a Chesapeake company which installs surveillance systems, sees it differently, ”Certainly if you’re in public, you have no expectation of privacy, and if you have no expectation of privacy, then I don’t care where you have a camera at that point.”