WDJT, the Milwaukee CBS affiliate that has seen two separate discrimination complaints filed against it in the last couple of weeks, now faces allegations it is putting its news crews in danger and ignoring their safety concerns.
In an email obtained by TVSpy, WDJT photographer Eric Ellis sent a resignation email to staffers where he said he was sent to the North side of Milwaukee by himself to cover an anti-violence rally despite being told in a previous email sent by management that crews were not to be sent there alone. That email told staffers a station MMJ had her iPhone stolen while she was covering a story there.
According to Ellis, when he told station management he had nearly been robbed in the same area, they told him he was fine and “that the people were ‘just messing with me.'” He said he was also told the next time he is faced with a similar situation he needs to record the incident on camera. Ellis said he feared that would only escalate the problem.
Ellis told TVSpy, “I no longer felt safe at work and I was very disappointed with the way that the station handled my attempted robbery.” You can read the entire resignation email after the jump.
In his resignation email, Ellis said, “I feel that the lack of care for the safety of photographers, reporters and MMJs at this station is appalling. I cannot work at a place where I constantly feel unsafe and am sent to unsafe areas alone.”
Ellis told TVSpy he has no current plans to file a lawsuit, though he said he has consulted with an attorney. He said he plans to freelance while he looks for another job.
We reached out to WDJT for comment. We will update when we hear back.
Here’s the email:
From: Eric Ellis
Date: September 11, 2013, 2:28:07 PM CDT
<email@example.com><mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>>Last Wednesday while covering an anti-violence rally on the North side, I was a victim of attempted robbery and death threats. A group of people came up behind me as I was walking back to my car and threatened to shoot me and take my gear. I got back to my car, thankfully physically unharmed. I was extremely shaken afterwards and filed a police report.Upon arrival back to the station, I talked to certain management and what had happened to me was made out as no big deal. I was told that I was “ok” and “fine” and that the people were “just messing with me.” I certainly did not feel that they were “messing with me,” I felt that my life was in danger. I left work for the rest of the day.I came back to work the next day and the same manager talked to me again about what I learned to do the next time something like this happened. I said hopefully nothing like this would happen again. Then I was told that I should have recorded them on camera. Clearly that would have escalated the situation and put me in even more danger.I feel that the lack of care for the safety of photographers, reporters and MMJs at this station us appalling. I cannot work at a place where I constantly feel unsafe and am sent to unsafe areas alone.Even after an email was sent out saying we were not supposed to go to the North side alone, we are sent there alone everyday. The email read:”Unfortunately today one of our MMJ’s was robbed while trying to cover a story on Milwaukee’s Northside. While attempting to do an interview the suspect came up behind her and ripped her iPhone from her hand. Thankfully she was not hurt. Until further notice NO one is to go to Northside alone. If we are late to a story or miss it all together so be it. The safety of our staff in the field is far more important.”After my incident, no email was sent out and only a few people knew what happened to me. I am sending this email to make people aware and to submit my immediate resignation from my position.Thank you to all the awesome photographers, reporters, producers, assignment desk people and MMJs I’ve worked with.
All of my work items are in a bag downstairs. Gear is in car 6.