Playing With Fire

Broadcasting unconfirmed reports e-mailed in from viewers is a dangerous game, but many local TV stations do so. WTEN chief meteorologist Steve Caporizzo found that out during a recent night of severe thunderstorms, when he aired e-mailed reports of intensive damage from Bennington County in Vermont, including descriptions of mobile homes being tossed and a jeep blown 450 feet down the road. Unfortunately, they turned out to be bogus. Now the station is re-evaluating its practice of having reading unconfirmed e-mail dispatches on the air during weather events. “We certainly learned a lesson, and will certainly be more careful next time,” news director Rob Puglisi said. “Does that mean that we will never read another e-mail on the air? It’s difficult to say for sure.” How many times must one get burned before one learns not to play with fire?

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