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Crappy Anniversary

By Tom Chalkley | Posted 3/7/2001

And the award for most egregious pandering in a local TV news program goes to WJZ's (channel 13) Eyewitness News for its tasteless, pointless regurgitation of the Joseph Palczynski story on Feb. 27. Ostensibly, W-Jeez revisited the scenes of Palczynski's bloody rampage as a sort of anniversary observation--and indeed it must have been a sentimental journey for a news operation that reveled in its status as the murderer's favorite mouthpiece during last year's standoff in Dundalk.

A certain amount of backwards-gazing is natural at the one-year mark; on March 4 The Sun weighed in with its own anniversary thumb-sucker. And the story also got a boost from that great arbiter of broadcast standards, Howard Stern, who recently helped one of Palczynski's victims "win" $100,000 in Vegas to compensate for her traumatic experience of the last year. WJZ is guilty mainly of (you'll excuse the expression) jumping the gun, and lowering the bar. For survivors who missed out on Stern's cash, 'JZ offered the cold comfort of anchorperson Denise Koch's sympathetic gaze. The news segment included this comment from one of Palczynski's hostage victims: "Denise, we just want to put it all behind us." Let's hope for his sake that Denise and WJZ remember that next year.

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