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Monday, December 11, 2006

Hijinks and harrassment at NY1


Here's something you may have missed in "The Morning Papers": The New York Post reports that a former NY1 reporter has filed a federal harassment complaint against the news station. Adele Sammarco, 39, who worked at the station from 1992 to 2001, alleges that she suffered sexual advances and insults at the hands of her fellow reporters, news crews and weekend anchor Gary Anthony Ramsay while at the station, and that she was fired in retaliation for her subsequent complaints. In particular, Sammarco alleges that Ramsay forcibly kissed her after driving her home from a party, while former NY1 reporter and current city comptroller press secretary Jeff Simmons allegedly doctored a photo of Sammarco to depict her with large cartoonish breasts and brought it to a company picnic. The next week, dozens of copies of the picture were allegedly displayed around the newsroom. The plaintiff alleges that she lost her position as a substitute anchor in retaliation for lodging an official complaint about the photo, and that she was fired in March 2001 after filing another complaint about Ramsay's behavior. In addition to NY1 and Ramsay, News Director Peter Landis and Vice President of Programming Steve Paulus are named as defendants in the suit, which alleges that the two executives actively encouraged a "meat market" atmosphere in the newsroom.

The lawsuit is gearing up for trial in the spring as the long discovery process, which includes all depositions, winds down. The case received little attention when it was filed back in 2002, but that was before blogs hit the scene, magnifying news items and hauling them across the 24-hour news cycle; so, if it proceeds to trial now, coverage will no doubt follow. As a result, the news network, owned by Time Warner, may opt for settlement rather than going forward with a high-profile and potentially embarrassing trial - a possibility that the plaintiff, who is seeking unspecified damages, and her attorneys have no doubt considered.

— Melissa Lafsky



This story got some play in 2002, but the fact is that a trial would be really embarassing now. Sammarco is like 5'1" and her testimony would definitely hurt Time Warner.

NY1 was founded as a local cable channel for New York City, based on the success of News 12 on Long Island. The plan was to hire young reporters, have them film their own stories and report. Of course, New York is too crazy for such a plan to succeed for long and eventually they hired crews.

NY 1 has been the source of new staff for the other local TV news operations. Which has led to keeping the local reporting staff filled with locals or people who understand the city, there are few blow dried blondes here. Their female staff tends towards young, short, cute and brunette

Sammarco was a crime reporter for most of her time at NY1, which got her a lot of airtime. The fact that she didn't find another job in the market indicates that this suit was in play for years.

Will Time Warner settle? Probably.

posted by Steve @ 1:04:00 PM

1:04:00 PM

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