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Band of brothels

A report from Fox's WJW(TV) Cleveland on U.S. military's using and even guarding South Korean brothels, which subject women to human trafficking, has led several congressmen to request the Pentagon to investigate.

The letter from a dozen representatives, including Ohio Senator and former Gov. George Voinovich, cited Tom Merriman's report, aired in several parts beginning in April, which "captured on video U.S. Military Police on 'courtesy patrol'—armed and in uniform—patrolling bars and brothels where trafficked women are forced to prostitute themselves." According to the report, the military police are there to intervene if any American soldiers get into trouble.

Merriman has met with congressmen, and news director Greg Easterly says the station has provided and will provide copies of the report—but only what has aired—for government investigators.

Help wanted

Long mired in low ratings, WGCL-TV Atlanta is looking for a new news director and assistant news director.

News Director Mike Cavender and assistant Sue Stevens left the station last Tuesday.

The Meredith Corp.-owned station, like many others in the group, has undergone considerable upheaval since the arrival last year of longtime Cox station executive Kevin O'Brien to run the group. In April, Meredith hired Sue Schwartz, who had been VP/GM at KTVK(TV)/ KASW(TV) Phoenix, to replace Allen Shaklen, who left in January. Creative Services Director Mimmi Mathis also left the station.

Cavender is a familiar face in news circles. He was the news director at WUSA(TV) Washington before Atlanta and was chairman of the Radio-Television News Directors Association in the late 1990s.

A close call

KGW(TV) Portland, Ore., reporter Pat Dooris says a few people have compared his widely viewed report of the helicopter crash during the rescue attempt near the summit of Mt. Hood to Herb Morrison's famed 1937 radio report of the explosion of the zeppelin Hindenburg.

Although he continued to report from a government-mandated three-mile distance, Dooris says he clearly got caught up in the moment, exclaiming that the crash of the rescue chopper was "horrible" and openly wishing it were a movie. Fortunately, no one was killed.

"Three people had already died," Dooris said, "and I did feel an emotional attachment to the men on the helicopter. It seemed appropriate. I think I was able to convey what I was seeing; it was totally unexpected, unbelievable. I didn't try to hype it, just doing the play by play. And I guess a bit more."

KGW's footage of the crash aired on Today, NBC Nightly News, CNN, Good Morning America
and Nightline.

Former WAFB anchor commits suicide

Longtime WAFB(TV) Baton Rouge anchor Vernon Roger, who opened a restaurant after losing his job at the station last year, hanged himself Monday, a local coroner determined. The station said in a statement, "This news has left us in shock here … where Vernon worked for 26 years."

The 51-year-old Roger, who pronounced his name "Ro-zhay," had been noon and 5 p.m. anchor and also hosted a popular weekly cooking segment. Roger, according to local sources, had a troubled history that included substance abuse and a series of arrests. In a recent interview with local station WBRZ(TV), Roger expressed regrets over his alcoholism. "Despite his troubles," WBRZ noted, "people in Baton Rouge loved Vernon Roger."

California collision

Actress and accused shoplifter Winona Ryder got a temporary reprieve from her court appearance to seek medical treatment after her arm was hurt following a collision with a TV camera while she was entering the courtroom.

The Los Angeles Times
identified the cameraman as Daniel Peek from KNBC(TV) Los Angeles, who told the paper he'd been pushed by a deputy sheriff escorting the actress, causing him to bump into another deputy, Ryder and her lawyer.

KNBC said, "We are currently investigating the situation and have no comment at this time."