Deborah Clayton has left her position as news director of Channel 3, the Las Vegas Review-Journal learned today, in a move that couldn’t have surprised most local TV professionals. Rumors of low morale in Channel 3’s news department have been rampant for the past few months, and there has been disgruntlement expressed by several insiders.
Lisa Howfield, Channel 3’s general manager, confirmed the departure but so far has declined further comment.
In the R-J’s Mediaology column, this writer has criticized some actions taken by Channel 3 under Clayton’s leadership, including allowing entertainment reporter Alicia Jacobs to become the high-profile focus of several of her own stories in recent months, as well as being too closely identified as a friend of the late Danny Gans to report on the investigation into his death.
In that column, Kelly McBride, the ethics group leader of the Poynter Institute, a respected journalism think tank, was quoted as saying: “What’s going on here that the policy is so unclear? Once you’ve got three or four of those popping up, you’ve got to wonder who is managing this newsroom and how they are communicating with the staff about what are acceptable boundaries.”
This columnist also criticized the station’s news department last December when Channel 3 appropriated footage from a fellow NBC affiliate in San Francisco and reworked the report as their own, with Angela Martin fronting the piece, without crediting the San Francisco station. Clayton called the practice “sharing.”
The station also was embarrassed when, reporting on this week’s passing of legendary newsman Walter Cronkite, they misspelled his name as “Kronkite” on a screen graphic.