Open Mic

The PGA Tournament is in Milwaukee, and the Big Story on Local Milwaukee Newcasts is About An Appearance of One of Tiger's Alleged Mistresses, Joslyn James, at a Strip Club

Chuck Ross Posted August 13, 2010 at 8:35 AM

Is this the story the Milwaukee TV stations should be focusing on? That's one of the questions explored in this provocative guest blog by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel radio/TV columnist Duane Dudek. We are indebted to Duane for letting us reprint his column. It originally appeared in the Journal Sentinel.  And Duane can be reached at ddudek@journalsentinel.com.

By Duane Dudek

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

I understand the impulse because I share it.

Everything is a story. And when it falls into your lap and writes itself, it's hard to say no.
But I only have to fill this tiny corner of the universe now and again. Imagine filling up to seven hours' worth of television newscasts on a daily basis.

It explains a lot. But does it justify dueling stories on Tuesday about Tiger Woods' alleged stripper girlfriend?

And was her appearance at a local "gentleman's" club this week really news?

Three out of four local news directors thought so, since that's how many stations reported it.

Woods, of course, has only himself to blame for any of this. Difficulties first in his marriage and now in his game have made him fair game and a big target. In fact, the first question at a press conference this week at the PGA Championship here at Whistling Straits was whether "it's fair to say things have gone backwards in terms of both your golf and your life."

I've asked questions like that myself, ones that hint at what everyone really wants to know but which I was too polite, too professional or too cowardly to ask directly.

I am of two minds about covering the visit by Woods' "alleged" mistress. In this case, I understand the impulse but don't share it.

WDJT-TV (Channel 58) mentioned her during a story on Woods' appearance here. But WISN-TV (Channel 12) and WTMJ-TV (Channel 4) gave female reporters the thankless job of going out to the club and interviewing her.

Their stories were more or less identical. She is not stalking him, she told WISN-TV's Colleen Henry, but "getting booked at different locations that either have a golf situation or where he's competing" around the country.

She told WTMJ-TV's Heather Shannon "you can't help who you fall in love with." Shannon resisted asking her what love's got to do with it.

Henry called her a "porn star"; Shannon said "adult film star."

But Henry added three salacious details: That, during her three years with Woods, she had two pregnancies, a miscarriage and an abortion; that during her act, she wears and takes off ("Of course I do," she giggled) a green jacket, the symbol of the Masters Tournament; and that she refers to herself using a crude golf-related reference for being Woods' 11th mistress.

"Where is the news in that?" wondered an outraged viewer and reader in an e-mail after watching WISN-TV's story. She called it a "totally inappropriate 'story'&ensp" and a "garbage segment."

By Thursday, the story had drawn 92 comments on WISN-TV's website, some outraged, some not.

"It amazes me how 'simple' Milwaukee news editors can be," wrote one, adding: "This is National Enquirer type reporting." Another wrote "This is like Channel 4's 'Dirty Dining' where gossip and drama rule."

As of Thursday, it remained the most-read story on WTMJ-TV's website.

In an e-mail statement, WISN-TV news director Lori Waldon wrote that Woods' visit is "a very big story, and the primary focus" of the station's PGA coverage. "But the scandal that brought him down and tarnished his image is also a news story. And when there's a local connection...that's news."

Henry, Waldon wrote, took a "straightforward, non-sensational approach" and the story ran late in the newscast "after other important local and national news of the day."

Steve Wexler, executive vice president of radio and TV for Journal Broadcast Group, which owns WTMJ-TV, expressed similar thoughts in an e-mail. Woods' appearance is "big news, as is the scandal that is following him," Wexler wrote, and "we were able to hear first-hand from one of the principals in this story."

But at what point does a story like this become like beating a dead horse or lying down with dogs?

Not yet, apparently.

You can read transcripts and watch video of the stories at www.tmj4.com and www.wisn.com.

And you can read a transcript of Wood's Tuesday press conference at www.tigerwoods.com.#