WTMJ Exec Stands Behind Using Anchors for Station Contest

By Kevin Eck 

Milwaukee NBC affiliate WTMJ is standing by a decision to have its news anchors promote a station contest featuring a regular advertiser.

In an ad for “Win Groceries 4 a Year!,” WTMJ anchors Mike Jacobs and Carole Meekins appear in the checkout area of a Sendik’s Food Market. Sendik’s regularly runs ads on WTMJ.

The Milwaukee Business Journal asked Steve Wexler if he thought having his news staff indirectly endorsing an advertiser was crossing the line. Wexler is the executive vice president of Journal Broadcast Group and vice president and general manager of WTMJ.

“Frankly, it’s kind of silly,” Wexler said of my question.

And: “That’s pretty mild stuff, actually.”

But the Business Journal questioned Wexler’s stance,

In American journalism, we have long maintained a wall between the news function and the advertising operation. The goal is to allow journalists to report news without the potential influence of advertisers.

Wexler told the Business Journal his viewers were sophisticated enough to know the difference between an advertisement and a station promotion.

The promotion, sponsored by both WTMJ and Sendik’s awards 20 $100 gift cards on specified days for a month, leading up to a $5200 grand prize.

TVSpy has reached out to Wexler for further clarification, but has not heard back.