KXAN’s News Director Fired
With several days left in the May Sweeps, KXAN TV (NBC) news director Michael Fabac is gone.
Word is that he was shown the door Friday, May 18th, but the staff was not informed until Monday, May 21st. The staff email announcement was typical:
“Michael Fabac is no longer with KXAN, deciding to pursue other opportunities. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.
“My door is open if anyone has any questions.
“ERIC LASSBERG | PRESIDENT & GENERAL MANAGER |
No further comment has been available from either Lassberg or LIN Media in Providence, Rhode Island.
Experience says that no personnel decisions are made without the nod of corporate officials in Providence. Certainly, approval of the firing of a news director would have come from LIN Media.
Yet, the time of Fabac’s departure is a head-scratcher. The important May Neilson Sweeps still have a day or so to go. No, KXAN reportedly isn’t doing as well as it has recently, but the station isn’t faltering badly either. As recently as February, KXAN News was a solid #2 overall and #1 in key time slots like 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. So, it wouldn’t seem that poor ratings resulted in a change.
This writer pointed out a month ago that KXAN has been slow to fill several staff positions. They still need a third weekend morning anchor, a meteorologist, and a sportscaster. Reporter positions may also remain vacant, although the station has made three recent hires.
Reporters equal content. Content is king. Without content, an audience has little reason for watching.
One online report indicated that newsroom staffers were rejoicing with the departure. That MediaBistro report is not accurate. Many staffers expressed great respect and now sympathy for Fabac.
“I am so sad to see you go. Know that I appreciated you at KXAN and hope wherever opportunities take you that you know you are a good person!
“Looking forward to working with you again someday friend,” said one true friend on Facebook.
“I have a lot of respect for him,” said another. “I’ve never seen him yell in the newsroom. I think he was a great manager, one of the more rational decision-makers around.”
Still the question of the time of his departure remains. The only answer from staffers contacted was that the corporate office might have been concerned about the flurry of fairly recent resignations. “They were leaving for other opportunities for their own reasons,” said one worker in a position to know their motives. Even so, why take action against Fabac so suddenly?
Fabac came to KXAN in January, 2007 having previously been a news director in Detroit and Little Rock. In Detroit he was named in a lawsuit filed by a fired employee. In Little Rock he was sometimes unpredictable. However, his track record in all markets was one of relative success.
Sources say for the time being, assistant news director Alicia Dean will handle day-to-day editorial decisions while general manager Eric Lassberg will deal with policy matters.
© Jim McNabb, 2012