TV coverage slighted
I just read "A Flood of Controversy," Melissa Meinzer's Feb. 20 piece on the rescue of the woman from the tunnel beneath the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, and must take issue with the way WTAE-TV was represented.
Our station received only a handful of e-mails about the story, and other than your reporter raising the question, I'm not sure there was really a "flood."
When it was brought to our attention that this story involved a transgender person, we had a lengthy discussion in our newsroom about how to report this accurately and sensitively. Managers, producers, reporters and assignment-desk editors took part in that conversation and we used information from media guides from both GLAAD and Dignity USA.
At the time our story aired, we did not have Rebecca Hare's name and could not make a decision based on that information. We also couldn't ask her ourselves. We came up with a plan aimed specifically at not sensationalizing the story and we executed that plan. In hindsight, we could have done some things differently, like edit some of the soundbites with rescuers, but we felt they helped tell a more complete story. Overall, our primary concern was finding a way to tell the story without focusing on Hare's "trans-ness," to use a quote from the University of Pittsburgh professor cited in your story.
My biggest concern is that, to my knowledge, your reporter did not contact WTAE-TV. Although I do not feel we should explain every decision we make, someone from the station would have been happy to comment on the record for a story that raises issues as important as gender sensitivity. It's an issue we take very seriously.
-- Roberta Petterson, Assistant News Director, WTAE-TV
County council scores a point
I was glad to see that the Allegheny County Council has voted to give some support to the vital tasks Prevention Point Pittsburgh performs for drug users ["Getting to the Point," Feb. 13]. Common sense and good public health policy support needle exchange. This vote, coupled with the Pennsylvania State Board of Pharmacy's recent rule change eliminating the need for prescriptions for needles, has the potential to more effectively combat HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C by placing Prevention Point Pittsburgh on firmer legal ground. I urge Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato to sign this bill and hope to eventually see Prevention Point's activities extended throughout the state.
-- Amesh A. Adalja, Butler