WESH blames WFTV’s Jordan for swine flu report

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Reports of swine flu in Orlando are raising the temperatures of some folks running the local news stations.

On Tuesday, WFTV-Channel 9 reported that there was a confirmed case of swine flu in Orlando. The report turned out to be false. WFTV blamed the error on an email it received from a doctor at Florida Hospital; WESH-Channel 2 blamed WFTV News Director Bob Jordan.

“Hospital Denies Report of Swine Flu in Orlando” was the headline on WESH.com. The report detailed a news conference at Florida Hospital about the incident. Channel 2 reported: “The news conference was held in response to a media report that a tourist from Mexico who was at the Disney attractions had swine flu. The report, first posted on the WFTV news director’s Twitter account at 10:35 a.m., quoted an e-mail sent by Florida Hospital’s chief medical officer Dr. Loran Hauck.”

What exactly did Jordan post on his Twitter account? Here’s what he wrote:

  • “Breaking News! Florida Hospital confirms Orlando’s first diagnosed case of swine flu. Details at WFTV.com and on Eyewitness News at Noon”
  • Then, a few minutes later, he added: “UPDATE: Orlando Swine flu patient is Mexican tourist who visited Walt Disney World.”

that he was going to Twitter with an attitude. Some examples:

Orlando Sentinel blogger Hal Boedeker contacted Jordan, and the longtime news director defended his decision to pass along the information via Twitter. He said it came in an email from Hauck.

“It was from a credible source,” Jordan told Boedeker. “It wasn’t the janitor at Florida Hospital opining. It was someone of stature.”

Hauck later issued a news release: “I regret that an unofficial e-mail I sent to a friend has been taken out of context.” He also added, “I regret my strong choice of words.”

But why was WESH so quick to wag a finger at Jordan? Again, it’s probably has to do with Twitter.

Jordan recently joined Twitter, and told his followers

  • WESH falls flat with Casey story. WFTV late news beats WESH and WKMG combined!
  • “WKMG had “hashmarks” at 530P Friday. “Hashmarks” means NO MEASURABLE audience!”
  • “Almost NO local news in today’s Orlando Sentinel. We’re down to Sunday-only service. Might as well drop that, too! (landfill-friendly move).”
  • “Looking at overnights from Sunday: “hashmark-hell” for KMG’s am news; ’60-Minutes’ did a measly .9 rating adults 25-54! Good luck, Skip!”

Those Tweets about the competition didn’t please the folks at WESH, WKMG — or Jordan’s boss, WFTV GM Shawn Bartelt. She told the Orlando Sentinel: “There’s not going to be so much of that going forward. That won’t be the main thrust. Everyone has an Achilles’ heel. We all live in a glass house.”

Still, considering everything that happened today with Orlando’s short-lived swine flu scare, I like this Tweet by Jordan from Monday night: “Chill, people. More people will die from falling down stairs today than from swine flu. Big media scare, people. (wash your hands anyway)”

Good advice — let’s all wash out hands.

About Roger Simmons 549 Articles
Roger Simmons has been blogging about Orlando television since 2001. You can email him at roger@rogersimmons.com