Station Break

Rhode Island reporter invokes privilege

WJAR(TV) Providence, R.I., reporter Jim Taricani cited federal newsgathering privilege when subpoenaed last week by a special prosecutor attempting to discover who leaked a videotape that appeared to show a Providence City Hall aide accepting a bribe.

WJAR in February 2001 aired the tape, which seemed to show a former top aide to Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci Jr. taking a $1,000 bribe in his office. Both the aide, Frank Corrente, and Cianci were convicted in the recent "Plunder Dome" trial, which gripped the city for months. Taricani has been the station's lead Plunder Dome reporter.

The identity of the person who leaked the tape may be known by as few as two people—the leaker and Taricani—and Taricani isn't talking. He says attorneys representing his station and owner NBC have been supportive and believe that the First Circuit goes further than most in providing haven for reporters protecting sources.

Taricani said he'd answered the questions he felt he could and now awaits the special prosecutor's next move. As yet, he has not been threatened with contempt of court.

WJZ-TV reporter hospitalized

A car crash in Columbia, Md., Sunday night killed an 18-year-old girl and injured WJZ-TV Baltimore reporter Dick Gelfman and his wife, Lenore, a Howard County, Md., judge.

According to the station, Tiffani Wiberg was in a Ford Tempo that crossed a center line and collided with the Gelfmans' Ford Explorer. Police told the station that Gelfman had been pulled from his vehicle. He reportedly has a broken leg and at press time was in serious condition at an area hospital. His wife was able to leave the vehicle on her own and was listed in fair condition.

Both were considered stable and the injuries not life-threatening.

Helping a hero

The homeless St. Louis woman who, with KTVI(TV) St. Louis photographer Bobby Hughes, saved the life of a driver trapped in a burning vehicle after an accident two weeks ago, was herself aided by an outpouring of support following the revelation of her action.

Following its initial report on the accident and Hughes's and Mary Whitehead's quick action, people began phoning the station to ask where they could send money to aid Whitehead in getting a home and a working car. Her car's breakdown put her at the scene of the accident.

Reporter Bonita Cornute, who is also a volunteer with the local Community Women Against Hardship, reported the follow-up story and brought Whitehead to the organization, which is attempting help her in using the fund created for Whitehead at the Union Planters Bank.

Prime time Howard

Public-TV station WHUT-TV Washington will add a local prime time weekly series in September focusing on life and events at parent Howard University. "WHUT-TV is part of Howard University," says General Manager Adam Clayton Powell III. "So we have a special obligation to present educational programs, such as @HOWARD, at times when most viewers will be able to watch."

The Friday-night program will follow WHUT-TV's other weekly public-affairs entry, Evening Exchange.

The station will also be adding a second nightly BBC News financial-planning show, Moneywise,
and a weekly documentary series focusing on African-American history and race relations in America.

All news is local. Contact Dan Trigoboff at (301) 260-0923,
e-mail or fax (413) 254-4133.