Does veteran News 12 reporter Frank Recchia blur the lines of political activity and on-air fairness? School board member Maria Pereira asserts in this commentary Recchia’s outright bias in favor of Mayor Joe Ganim and Board of Education member Dennis Bradley, the Democratic-endorsed candidate for state senator in the 23rd District.
Pereira supported Ganim for mayor in 2015 and also ran on the same slate as Bradley in 2015 when they won school board seats. She has since had a falling-out with both of them. Pereira sent the following letter to David Feuerman, assistant news director for News 12. Both Feuerman and Recchia are welcome to respond to Pereira’s assertions.
My name is Maria Pereira and I am a resident of the City of Bridgeport. I am also an elected official in that I am a member of the Bridgeport Board of Education.
I am compelled to write to you regarding concerns that I have surrounding biased and unfair reporting by one of Connecticut News 12 reporters.
Before I provide you with the details of my observations on this issue, I would like to start by stating that I deeply value the American principle embodied in the First Amendment of the US Constitution, namely, the freedom of the press. It is clearly the cornerstone of a democracy such as ours.
I am a loyal News12 viewer and will not go to sleep until I have seen the evening reports on the local events in my community. In fact, the only reason that I have not changed my carrier, is because I do not want to give up my News12 CT.
Like many Americans, I am troubled by the claims and allegations of ‘fake news,’ ‘dishonest reporting’ and ‘biased coverage’ coming from President Donald Trump. However, for some time now I have been deeply disturbed by the questionable conduct of news reporter Frank Recchia, and have concluded that Mr. Recchia’s reporting provides evidence and lends significant support to the statements of the President.
It is clear that News12 Connecticut has made a business decision to assign the majority of news coverage in Bridgeport to Frank Recchia. Presumably, News12 CT has determined that Mr. Recchia’s familiarity with the City and its residents enhances the delivery of important news items to its viewers.
However, I have noticed for for some time now, that Mr. Recchia has a very real bias and slant in favor of City of Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, currently a candidate for Governor in the upcoming Democratic Primary of August 14, 2018. This bias also is apparent in any and all news coverage involving supporters of Mayor Ganim’s.
I volunteered in Mayor Ganim’s mayoral campaign in 2015. During that time, I remember being troubled by Frank Recchia’s obvious admiration of Joe Ganim. He seemed enthralled by the presence of Joe Ganim. Rather than asking probing questions, as is expected from a fair news reporter, his interviews and questions appeared designed to promote and enhance Joe Ganim.
It is hard to forget that on one occasion, he even came to Ganim’s headquarters on a day off from News12. He came to the headquarters, with his mother, to introduce her to Joe Ganim and to take photos with him. Clearly, this behavior is not what one expects from an unbiased and even-handed reporter.
In late April of this year, I was reviewing Mayor Ganim’s Finance Report for his 2019 mayoral re-election bid. While reviewing the list of contributors, I discovered Frank Recchia had donated $100 to the “Ganim for Bridgeport ’19” re-election campaign. I have enclosed a copy of the SEEC form setting forth the contribution for your review.
This political contribution removes any doubt that may exist regarding Frank Recchia’s bias and slant towards Mayor Ganim. To describe this as inappropriate, unethical and unfair is putting it mildly.
On June 30th of 2018, he demonstrated his bias and unfair slant in favor of the supporters of Mayor Ganim. On this occasion, he attended the opening of the campaign headquarters for Dennis Bradley for State Senator in the 23rd District. Dennis Bradley is a key supporter of the Mayor and the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee.
It was a sad day for fair and balanced news coverage by News 12 CT, as Frank Recchia stood before Dennis Bradley’s supporters at the kick-off and praised Dennis Bradley and shared his personal thoughts and opinions on why Dennis Bradley would make a good senator. (see enclosed copy of photograph)
If you review Frank Recchia’s news stories over the last three months, you will discover that he generally interviews Dennis Bradley 1-3 times per week on a variety of topics.
His challenger receives almost no coverage.
These troubling observations caused me to research the ethical requirements of journalists. I came upon the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) which was founded in 1909. In reviewing an SPJ Ethics Committee Position Paper on Political Involvement it clearly states as follows:
“The SPJ Ethics Committee gets a significant number of questions about whether journalists should engage in political activity. The simplest answer is “No.” Don’t do it. Don’t get involved. Don’t contribute money, don’t work in a campaign, don’t lobby, and don’t run for office yourself.”
As an elected official in Bridgeport, I have had a good working relationship with Frank Recchia; however I could no longer remain silent regarding his political activism in Bridgeport. Frank Recchia has done a lot of good work in Bridgeport, however, this slant and bias could easily be labeled as unethical behavior that could tarnish his reputation.
I hope to receive a prompt response from you regarding these valid concerns and how they will be addressed going forward.
Objectivity is often considered a core covenant of journalistic integrity. Reporters are encouraged to avoid any appearance of bias in both their jobs and their day-to-day lives. However, transparency is another aspect of journalism that is arguably as—if not more—important.
According to the Radio Television Digital News Association, “Professional electronic journalists should present the news with integrity and decency, avoiding real or perceived conflicts of interest, and respect the dignity and intelligence of the audience as well as the subjects of news.” Doesn’t sound like this is being done with respect to Mr. Recchia.
In all fairness Mr. Feuerman contacted me within 2 hours of my sending him this letter.
He was polite, gracious and incredibly professional. They are already addressing the matter and are investigating it fully.
I think the management of Channel 12 News deserves an opportunity to look into the matter and to address any behavior that violates their policies or journalistic integrity.
It’s all about having access to those in power, there’s a right way with integrity and decency. I’m glad to hear that management of Channel 12 News responded back in a timely fashion and that are looking into the matter.
*** You might of just broke a local political/media story that could send ripples through-out political news coverage in Ct. A political/news debacle that may change the way political candidates are interviewed or written about! Sort of a 3-interviews limit per candidate to prevent any type of viewer, “witch-hunts” by the anti-candidates voter that may have an “axe to grind” so to speak. Also because, “one never knows do one” in Bpt; no? ***
*** Take your Meds! ***
Ganim must have had a lackey load the French wine into Frank Reccia’s Volvo.