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Friday, February 23, 2007

Judge Rules, Channel 5 Jumps

Posted By on Fri, Feb 23, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Judge David Matia believes the First Amendment is way overrated
It's a sad day in journalism when a judge orders a local TV station not to run a news report. It's an even sadder day when the station actually listens. WEWS reported yesterday that Cuyahoga County Judge David Matia had issued a restraining order blocking the station from running a report about Belladerm, a Westlake health spa. The station had run this report earlier in the week, raising questions about the spa's treatments. It was planning to run a follow-up. Belladerm asked the judge to put a stop to it. Matia, apparently of the belief that the First Amendment is way overrated, granted the restraining order. He told The PD, "A one-night delay isn't going to hurt anyone." The station held the story. Okay, so the journalists of yesteryear probably wouldn't run an investigative report on a spa in Westlake, although it's fun to imagine Mike Wallace interrogating some well-groomed chump about peach lotion. But if yesteryear's sleuths did investigate a health spa, do you think they would have shut down the story because some dip in a robe told them to? Not likely. Unfortunately, we live in the Age of Very Expensive Lawyers. "We considered running the story, but we thought it was more important to follow the law," WEWS News Director Steve Hyvonen told me this morning. But he couldn't say more — not without talking to the lawyers. I swear to God. When I tried to follow up, he said, "I'm gonna have to lawyer up on this. Sorry." Indeed. Predictably, the judge ruled this morning that the station could air its report. For the record, I won't be watching. — Joe P. Tone

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