Chicago’s WMAQ-TV fired an enterprising investigative reporter for crossing those vague and ambiguous journalist's lines in pursuit of a story. TV stations want the ratings for their very survival and sometimes put incredible pressure on reporters to come back with real news.
A salacious and big story in the Chicago area is that of missing Plainfield women, Lisa Stebic, a mother of two. Plainfield police zeroed in on the “usual suspect”, Craig Stebic the estranged soon to be divorced husband of the woman. Police just don’t have either probable cause to arrest anyone or the body of the missing woman, yet. There’s little doubt that this is a sensational tale of domestic intrigue and murder.
These cases are broken through the words and behavior of the suspects. Keeping your target nervous and talking nearly always does the trick. Sooner or later they get caught in lies or simply spill their guts. Apparently Jacobson knew this and wanted to break the case herself and also slaughter her competition along the way.
One thing for sure is reporters are not to become surrogate cops or police informers. Yesterday, Plainfield Police Chief Don Bennett told reporters "Jacobson has in the past informed the Plainfield Police Department of her prior conversations with Mr. Stebic."
Smart cops will take help wherever and whenever they can get it. Of course police hope that their helpers don’t endanger themselves or interfere in the investigation.
You don’t become an award winning, top three-market TV reporter without taking risks. TV news has lost its audience and a large percentage of their financial resources because of the Internet and the cable TV explosion. Most TV reporters I know are trying to figure out how they can put their kids through college and retire in light of shrinking paychecks and dismal future.
Jacobson was clearly out to get the story at too high a personal cost. Instead, Jacobson became the top news story in Chicago. Her journalistic crime was simply getting caught. That was aggravated by WBBM-TV making Jacobson’s investigation their own top story.
Had Jacobson not been discovered by the competition and had she succeeded in helping police solve the mystery she’d have been paraded around like a ratings show pony rather than a disgraced former reporter.
Somehow I don’t think this will be the end for Jacobson. I fully expect her to pull a rabbit out of her hat and somehow capitalize on her current misfortune.
Here’s what the Chicago tribune had to say.