KCRA and the
Safeway Meat Scandal
A Case Study in Television News
by Robert Winter
On March 21, 1973, KCRA News of Sacramento, California, welched on its obligations to its viewers. Providing complete coverage of a consumer campaign against Safeway Food Stores would probably have lost us an important advertising account.
It's not an earth-shattering story. Few people will be shocked by the disclosure that broadcast news organizations can yield to economic pressure.
What is significant about the KCRA's unfortunate experience is that it was avoidable--and by means available to other news departments in the same predicament.
KCRA News was not eager to prostitute itself. Management was an old hand at minor flirtations, but when driven to the edge of journalism's red light district, it still blushed awkwardly at the prospect of Doing It For Real. Stodgy executive types tippytoed tragicomically through those fabled back alleys. Voices quavered in classic Nice People's anguish at the thought of Being Discovered Here.
(c) COPYRIGHT 1973 ROBERT WINTER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.