When Jim Hummel, a mainstay of WLNE-TV (Channel 6), decided to depart last week because of the approach being pursued by new management, it seemed — at least on the surface — to encapsulate the take-this-paycheck-and-shove-it fantasy of many people, in many professions.
Hummel’s parting, in fact, appeared entirely amicable. Yet it’s not exactly surprising that a philosophical clash would exist between a traditional TV reporter and the more tabloid-like news style being pursued by Global Broadcasting of Southern New England, which bought Channel 6 last year from California-based Freedom Communications.
As Hummel pointed out during an interview on WPRO-AM’s Dan Yorke Show, Global Broadcasting, a far smaller entity than Freedom Communications, faces more urgent pres-sure to pursue profits through improved ratings, since it is less able to cover losses through broader media holdings.
For his part, Stephen Doerr, Channel 6’s general manager, expressed disappointment about Hummel’s departure after 13 years, but he says the station is making gains and that it remains committed to differentiating itself from its competitors at WJAR (Channel 10) and WPRI (Channel 12).
The irony is that local TV news across the country, despite stylistic differences among different stations, mostly suffers from the same problem.
As TV consultant Dick Kurlander recently wrote at tvnewsday.com, “The death wish is most evident when actually watching a half-hour newscast. Local news is generally de-fined as crime, car crashes, minor house fires and endless weather hype. It’s as if every day is a blank slate on the assignment desk. Whatever is easiest to cover with no real effort or manpower investment is today’s news.”
Susan Yolen, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Connecticut, which was poised this week to assume administrative control of Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island (PPRI), attributed the change to the difficulty of a small organization operating in a changing health-care market.
Yet it’s fair to suspect there’s more to the resignation of Miriam Inocencio, who had been CEO of PPRI for more than 10 years, in part since it reportedly came after an internal split among members of the local reproductive-rights’ organization’s board of directors.
At press time, Inocencio had not returned a phone message left at her Warwick home. And for her part, Yolen offered few specifics about how Planned Parenthood’s Connecti-cut organization became involved in the Rhode Island operation.
Yolen says Inocencio’s departure was unrelated to her having faced, as reported by Channel 6 in May, a shoplifting charge.
Asked about the financial condition of PPRI, Yolen said, “I really can’t say.” She nonetheless vowed that the delivery of services at the organization’s Providence location will not be impacted in the short-term, and that PPRI will remain viable.
Some of this information was first reported at thephoenix.com/notfornothing.