Justin McLeod's Blog

There are times I really hate the internet and this week is one of them.  Some people post outrageous and just plain wrong statements on our comment section.  Part of me says I should just ignore it.  I often do.  But I am finding people are starting to believe what is said.  

A good example of this was the shooting Memorial Day that left Jennifer Agee dead and State Police Sgt. Matt Brannock shot.  Someone posted this on our comment section, "got told a few mins ago that trooper shot will be ok! Catch up News7."

We knew early on a State Police trooper had been shot and that he was ok.  The problem is no one would confirm it on the record.  We can't just go on the air and report whatever we hear.  We have to wait until authorities are ready to release the information.  I know this is frustrating.  People want information right away but we have to wait, and there's a good reason for it.  During a breaking news situation, a lot of the information in the beginning turns out to be wrong.  For example, we first heard the trooper had been shot in the head.  Turns out he was shot in the leg.  What if we went on the air or and reported that or posted it on our website??  These same people would be criticizing us for not waiting until we had confirmation.  We also heard the victim at the Sheetz worked for the Roanoke County Police Department.  That too turned out not be true.  We never reported any of this.  We waited until we got the story right.  Every news organization wants to get the story first.  We are all competitive but it is important to first get it right!

People also need to realize during a breaking news situation authorities don't drop everything to come talk to us.  They have a job to do.  Would you expect a firefighter to put down a hose and come give me information while a house is burning?  No.  So I ask you to be patient.  We are professionals.  We know what we are doing.  Trust us!  Also, I think I've said this before but don't believe everything you read on facebook. 

Some are also criticizing the news media for reporting on the possible motive in the shooting that killed Jennifer Agee.  Some have said we are trying to smear a dead woman and we are just reporting gossip.  We are not TMZ.  We report facts.  We got this information from search warrants.  These are court documents, not a piece paper we found in a dumpster or information we heard in the line at the grocery store.  Certainly our hearts go out to the Agee family but we have a job to do.  What is the question many of you have asked since Monday's shooting?   what prompted this?  It is our job to try to answer those questions, even if it is painful information that some don't want to hear.


May 24th

It amazes me sometimes how some people think they know me just from watching me on tv.  A lot of my friends who think they know me, don't even really know me.  So here's what you need to know!

I am a bicentennial baby.  I was born with apnea and was on a monitor for the first two years of my life.  I had a baby brother who died of the same condition.  I've had arthritis since birth.  I am a natural blond.  My hair was white as a kid.  I am mainly Scottish and Swedish.  I am sarcastic.  I don't sugar coat things.  If I don't like you, you know it.  I am blunt.  I don't like to lie and I hate liars.  I don't smile very often, it just ain't me.  Some say I don't let people get close to me, they are probably right.  I am kinda of a loner.  I am not one of those people who needs to be the life of the party with tons of friends.  I like to have a small group of close knit friends.  I am shy.  You put me in a room full of strangers, and I won't talk.  I sometimes have low self-esteem.  I've only been in love once in my life.  I don't believe in love at first sight.  I don't know how to flirt. I wasn't overly popular in high school.  I am not innately smart, you should see my SAT scores!  I am mildly dyslexic.  I have a lot of trouble with phone numbers.  I rarely show it but I easily cry.  I get teary eyed at weddings and especially at homecomings for soldiers.   I love baseball, the Red Sox, and watching movies.  I have a weakness for ice-cream sandwiches.  I don't really like chocolate.  I have a cat but we don't particularly like each other.  I don't like seafood and I am not a big fan of Chinese food.  I prefer to go to the beach at night, rather than the day.  Love the sound of the ocean while walking in the dark.  I am not a morning person and finally I like my popcorn slightly burnt.  Ok, enough about me!


May 17th

I don't feel obligated

  I had a lovely dinner with a couple of friends recently.  The food was so so, the company was great.  When the checks arrived, we started talking about tips.  I mentioned that I tip before the tax.  My friend replied she tips after the tax because she used to be a waitress and knows they don't make a lot of money.  I replied back that I shouldn't feel obligated to give the waiter/waitress more just because they don't make a decent wage.  Before you go spitting in my water the next time I'm dinning out, I typically tip 15% to 20% if the service is good.

I then mentioned it annoys me when you're at a store checking out and the clerk asks for your phone number.  I always tell them I don't give out my personal information.  That's when my other friend at dinner chimed in.  She thinks I am being rude because the company makes them ask for phone numbers.  I told her she should be mad at the company, not me.  I don't feel obligated to give out my phone number.  Some say I should give a fake number.  That's beside the point.  I want them to know I am not giving out my personal information.

While I am it, I find it increasingly annoying that a lot of stores now ask you to donate to some cause while you are checking out.  Don't get me wrong, they are worthy causes but it seems I am being asked every time I go shopping.  I used to feel guilty and just say yes.  It is only a dollar after all.  But now it's happening too often so I am not afraid to say no from time to time.

Am I becoming an old fart?  Perhaps but I just don't feel obligated!


May 2nd

Complaints and Complainers

I received a complaint about my texting 911 story.  One example mentioned was how texting 911 could be beneficial is if a man was trying to break into a woman's home she could text 911 from the closet rather than call and give up her location.  A viewer wasn't happy with this example.  She e-mailed to say it smacked of sexism.  She believes "specifying a woman as helpless and vulnerable reinforces stereotypes better left in the dustbin of history."  I don't think my example came off as sexist.  I apologize if some took it that way.  It wasn't my intent.

We received numerous complaints about our recent weather coverage.  News 7 has had to break into regular programing a lot lately because of severe weather.  People are usually upset because they can't see the rest of their show.  I can understand the frustration to a degree but we are going to break into programming when people's lives could be in danger.

When I tell callers that, they usually respond "well it's not bad where I live."   I usually fire back if a tornado was touching down at your home, you would want to know, right?  Tell you what, the next time you call to complain about the interruptions, I will take your name and address and when a tornado touches down in your neighborhood we will ignore it.  You are on your own.  Good luck!

Some will also complain "well it never ends up being bad."  Try telling that to the residents of Pulaski, Halifax County, and Washington County.  They've all seen how destructive a tornado can be.  You just never know.  Sometimes tornadoes touch down, other times they don't.  If you still feel this way, I guess this means your crystal ball works better than mine.

We often get the same people who call and complain to News 7.  They call constantly.  There is this one guy in particular.  He calls several times a week.  He is never nice.  He never has a compliment.  He just complains.  He calls so often none of us take him seriously.  My point is don't protest too much.  Don't get me wrong, we welcome complaints here at News 7.  We are not perfect.  But don't complain about silly things like missing out on your favorite program for a tornado and finally keep the calls to a minimum.  I am no Dr. Laura.



April 20th

Is the end near?

You can't help but feel for the people impacted by the tornadoes that recently struck parts of the midwest, Raleigh, and here at home in Pulaski.  I've heard some people say it is a sign that the world is about to end.  While covering the aftermath in Pulaski, I interviewed a woman from a local church who believes the scriptures indicate the end is near.  There are also billboards around the Roanoke Valley saying Judgment Day is coming May 21st.

I am not anti-religious.  I strongly believe in freedom of religion.  I don't agree with every religion but I think people should have the right to believe in anyone or anything they want.  However, this 'end is near' talk really bothers me.  Sure, the end will come one day.  But how can anyone really predict it?  How can anyone really say they know what God is thinking?  

Since the beginning of time, people have been predicting the end of the world and guess what?  They've been wrong!  I think it really hurts your credibility when you predict the end of the world and then it doesn't happen.  If you want to tell people to get ready for Judgment Day, fine but let's all stop predicting the actual date.  See ya on the 21st. 


March 30

Why so much hate?

As a child, when I was mad at my parents I used to scream "I hate you."  Who hasn't done that?  My father would respond by saying "hate is such a strong word."  He is right.  There seems to be so much hatred lately.  Consider for a moment.  UVa is investigating possible anti-semite incidents involving Jewish students.  The right hate President Obama just as much as the left hated President George W. Bush.  Some Virginia Tech fans can't bring themselves to cheer on VCU because the Hokies didn't make it into the NCAA men's basketball tournament.  While we are it, many VT fans hate UVa, and many UVa fans hate VT.  My colleague Jean Jadhon posted a picture on facebook of her with a Lady Gaga impersonator from a charitable event.  Someone responded by calling the impersonator "it."  There was also the UCLA student who recently mocked asians on youtube.  

Then there is the murder/attempted suicide in Roanoke Monday.  A war broke out on the comment section of our website.  Someone wrote "damn blacks, this is Roanoke. Not South Central."  You could argue this statement is racist.  I am more concerned because the victim and the alleged shooter are both white!  What did the person's comment have anything to do with this senseless crime?

Not to sound self-righteous but why so much hate?  It just seems so sad and silly.  Think about it!


March 22nd

I am stupid, now let's move on!

Last week, I made a boo boo on the air.  I mispronounced the word nuclear.  Why did I make the mistake?  I don't know.  Should I have caught it?  Absolutely.  Should I know better?  Yes.

I received several e-mails and phone calls about my blunder.  Most were just bringing it to my attention.  I have no problem with that.  Then I got a letter in the mail that made me laugh, mad, and had me scratching my head.  The person didn't sign their name but you could tell it was written by a woman.  She tells me how to correctly pronounce the word.  She then goes onto say "you're not George Bush!  Thank God.  You're a reporter, enunciate correctly.  That's your job?!"  At the end of the letter, she writes "P.S. and I only went to high school."  I guess she is implying I wasted my money on college.  

Here is my response to the woman who sent me the letter who didn't sign her name.  "I am sorry.  When God made me in my mother's womb he didn't make me perfect like he did you."  

What would possess someone to write such a mean spirited letter?  I've been in the news business for 13 years and I make one blunder on the air, and all of sudden I am the stupidest person in the world?  Really lady?

I don't mind people calling or e-mailing to complain.  What I don't understand is why a lot of people have to be so rude about it.  I see more of this everyday.  People call up and just start yelling and screaming.  If you are one of them, you really need to calm down.  I will be more inclined to hear you or help you when you call if you are nice about it.  Last week, I was suppose to stay at a hotel outside of Washington D.C.  The hotel had me booked for the same dates last month.  Unfortunately, they were now full.  I didn't yell.  I didn't scream.  I complained but nicely.  The hotel put me up in another hotel, free of charge.  The clerk thanked me for being patient.  I think most people yell and scream because they think they have to.  In most cases, you will get the same result without having to lose your temper.  

For one day last week, I was stupid.  I admit it.  I am not proud of it.  Should I be branded a stupid person for the rest of my life or career?  I don't think so.  Now that we've established that, let's move on. 

March 16th