Last Tuesday night, Cindy Michaels and Tony Consiglio of ABC 7 out of Bangor, Maine, resigned on air. The Bangor Daily News's Andrew Neff reported that the duo told him that they resigned in part because senior management at their TV station wanted them to deviate from objectively covering the news to bearing a decidedly more editorial slant (see MRCTV video of the on air resignation below; emphasis mine):
“I just wanted to know that I was doing the best job I could and was being honest and ethical as a journalist, and I thought there were times when I wasn’t able to do that,” said Consiglio, a northeastern Connecticut native who broke in with WVII as a sports reporter in April 2006.
Not everyone was shocked by the on-air resignations.
“No, that was unfortunate, but not unexpected,” said Mike Palmer, WVII/WFVX vice president and general manager. “We’ll hire experienced people to fill these positions sooner rather than later.”
Neither reporter had told anyone of their decisions before Tuesday’s newscast.
“We figured if we had tendered our resignations off the air, we would not have been allowed to say goodbye to the community on the air and that was really important for us to do that,” said Michaels, the station’s news director, who has spent six of her 15 years in Bangor’s radio and TV market at WVII.
Both Michaels, 46, and Consiglio, 28, said frustration over the way they were allowed or told to do their jobs — something that has been steadily mounting for the last four years — became too much for them.
“There was a constant disrespecting and belittling of staff and we both felt there was a lack of knowledge from ownership and upper management in running a newsroom to the extent that I was not allowed to structure and direct them professionally,” Michaels explained. “I couldn’t do everything I wanted to as a news director. There was a regular undoing of decisions.”
Michaels said there were numerous things that contributed to their decisions.
“It’s a culmination of ongoing occurrences that took place the last several years and basically involved upper management practices that we both strongly disagreed with,” she explained. “It’s a little complicated, but we were expected to do somewhat unbalanced news, politically, in general.”
Neither Michaels nor Consiglio would say what specific political leaning they were expected to adopt.