KVIA Raises Questions Over Coverage of Rival Anchor’s Arrest for Domestic Violence

By Kevin Eck 

El Paso ABC affiliate KVIA is under fire for its coverage of KTSM anchor Adrienne Alvarez’s recent arrest on suspicion of domestic violence.

After teasing the story of Alvarez’s arrest off the top of its 10:00 p.m. news, anchor Ashlie Rodriguez told viewers the station sent a crew to Alvarez’s house to get her side of the story. They then aired footage of a KVIA intern approaching Alvarez in what appeared to be Alvarez’s driveway. When Alvarez backed away from the intern, the intern said, “That’s fine. Thank you for your time,” which was echoed by what sounded like the photographer saying the same thing.

That report left some in El Paso, including a writer at the El Paso Times, questioning if the station was a little too aggressive in its reporting.

KVIA apologized to viewers for its coverage, once at at the end of the 10:00 p.m. news and once the next day when anchor Estela Casas told viewers, “Well last night we aired a story about KTSM’s Adrienne Alvarez. It was a misguided attempt to provide someone accused of wrongdoing a chance to explain her side of the story. However, we exercised an error in  judgment. That type of report does not meet our standards for ethics or journalism and what you’ve come to expect from ABC-7. We assure  you this has been a learning experience for those involved. We apologized at the end of yesterday’s newscast and we apologize again tonight.”

KVIA also posted Alvarez’s mugshot to its facebook page and the story about the arrest to its website.

Viewers posted their disapproval on the station’s facebook page. “Going to a competitor’s home for an interview about a legal matter is out of line. I was very disappointed to see that on your 10pm broadcast last night,” one viewer wrote. “Did you interview your morning weather man at his home when he got a DWI a few months ago? I don’t recall seeing that one.” The viewer is referring to former KVIA meteorologist Jorge Torres, who was arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct in January. The El Paso Times said the charges were later dismissed.

KVIA general manager Kevin Lovell told TVSpy he was dumbfounded and horrified when he saw the report that aired at 10:00 p.m. Lovell said the weekend anchors, who also produce the newscast, made the decision to go to Alvarez’s home. “I’m just appalled at their newsmaking decision,” he told TVSpy.

He said he called KTSM general manager Gary Sotir while KVIA news director Brenda De Anda-Swann called Alvarez to apologize and take responsibility for what happened. He said they have yet to hear back from either.

While Lovell said he can’t discuss any actions taken against Rodriguez and Dougherty since it’s a personnel issue, he did say both were still employed. He also said, in the future, permission for what he called “in your face” reporting on weekends would have to come from either the news director or himself.

Lovell candidly told TVSpy, “I can’t remember being this frustrated with any coverage we’ve done in a very long time.”

Alvarez was arrested last Thursday on suspicion of domestic violence. She was allegedly involved in a fight with her husband. She was booked into the Doña Ana County Detention Center and released on $1,000 bail later that day.