Thursday, Sept. 17, 2009 | 2:04 a.m.
KTNV Channel 13 aired a series of undercover reports in March on Tire Works, a local tire dealer accused of defrauding customers.
Before the series aired, anchor Nina Radetich told Tire Works owner Roshie Weightman that her boyfriend could help mitigate the negative reports that were going to come from her station. In a recorded phone call, she pitched the services of boyfriend Jack Finn, a former spokesman for Sen. John Ensign and then-Gov. Kenny Guinn, calling him a “master” of handling negative stories.
Weightman claims that, in another call, Radetich told her Tire Works would have to pay for Finn’s services and suggested she “spin” the story by pointing to the company’s charitable donations, including those to Nina’s Night Out, a benefit created and hosted by Radetich.
When the Tire Works series ran, Radetich introduced some of the segments but never disclosed her relationship with Weightman. Nor did she tell her colleagues. In the recorded call, Radetich told Weightman she had “not told a soul at my station that we’ve talked” and asked her to keep the conversation “between us.”
By asking for secrecy, Radetich showed she knew she was violating ethical standards, which call for journalists to avoid conflicts of interest that would create even the appearance of impropriety.
Jim Prather, KTNV’s vice president and general manager, tried to dismiss his star anchor’s actions as a lapse of judgment. It was nothing of the kind. It was a clear and deliberate violation of standards, and Prather is only compounding the problem by glossing over it.
Radetich’s actions will tarnish not only her reputation but also Channel 13’s credibility, which will make it difficult for viewers to trust the station’s news reports and for sources to trust the station’s reporters.
Radetich and Prather should know better. Among the stated values of KTNV’s parent company, Journal Broadcast Group, is this line: “We will act ethically.”