BROOKE GLADSTONE: Earlier this week authorities in Colorado Springs arrested the last two of seven escapees from a Texas prison. Though the two convicts were shirtless and were taken into custody in a pre-dawn raid, not much else about this story is typical.
The fugitives negotiated with authorities and television station KK-TV for ten minutes of air time so that each man could make a short statement. The surrender went off without a hitch, that is, unless you listen to the media pundits who actually grappled with granting ten minutes of precious air time just to save a few lives.
As you can imagine, the public didn't see too many gray areas in this one.
CNN VIEWER:In this situation I thought the bottom line was saving lives. So although it may have brushed with journalistic ethics, all arrows in the situation were pointing that them interfering would help save lives, that that should be the priority.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: What the CNN viewer, indeed what all the journalistic poobahs couldn't have know was that this situation was not without its victims.
For 15 years Donny Parsons has been the weatherman on the KK-TV early morning program Hey Ho Colorado. It was his ten minutes of air time that was given over to the fugitives on Wednesday morning.
Since that point, Mr. Parsons has barricaded himself inside the studios of Hey Ho Colorado and has refused to give the day's low temperature. And as residents of the Rocky Mountain State know, highs are useful but without the lows lives are put on hold, wardrobes hang in the balance.
I'm pleased to announce that Mr. Parsons has agreed to end his boycott and surrender to station security in exchange for a one-minute interview with On the Media.
Mr. Parsons, are you there? Are you there?
"DONNY PARSONS": Yes.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Turn your radio down. Okay, that should be all right. I'm assuming that everything is working okay?
"DONNY PARSONS": Yes.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: All right. At this point remember our commitment here. I have a timekeeper.
"DONNY PARSONS": Ready.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:And what'll happen is you'll go ahead and after that one-minute statement you will, as you promised, walk out of the room without violence, without weapons and you'll end the situation peacefully with the security guard. Am I right on that?
"DONNY PARSONS": Yes!
BROOKE GLADSTONE: All right. The timekeeper's ready, so when I say go ahead start talking. Timekeeper, would you start the one minute? [PAUSE] Okay, Donny, you go ahead now, please.
"DONNY PARSONS": Yes, well I wanted to say that my protest is being registered so that people could see the real significance of Hey Ho Colorado. I have still been taping cooking segments, I've been wishing viewers a rousing Hey Ho Colorado every 15 minutes. I haven't complained about the new set which makes me sit on one of these barstools all day, despite my bad back.
All I've been doing is withholding the lows. I'm doing it as a protest against the tendency in the news media to emphasize the negative. We so often dwell on the low.
In summer we tell you it's hotter than it is because of the humidity. In winter we'll tell you it's colder than it is because of the wind chill. Where's the balance? Where does the wind chill go in summer? I ask you where?
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Well, at that point it's more of a breeze than a chill. And, and I don't think--
"DONNY PARSONS": Rhetorical question, Brooke. I hope this won't be counted against my time.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: I'm sorry, go ahead.
"DONNY PARSONS": So I haven't been giving the lows. But it's January in Colorado. I mean, I hope nobody's going around in culottes. I guess that's all I have to say. I will now take my shirt off and give myself up to the authorities.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Mr. Parsons, not only do I want to thank you for honoring your commitment, I want to thank you for providing us with fodder for future segments where we'll ask journalism professors if what we did here today was ethical. Thank you.