An innocent joke between a teacher and her students may change the life of an Akron middle school teacher forever. On Jan. 22, the Los Angeles Times released a dramatic segment from NewsChannel5 covering the investigation of Melissa Cairns, a middle school math teacher in the Akron, Ohio school district. The Akron School Board voted to terminate Cairns after a school employee found a compromising photo on Cairns’ Facebook page.
“Finally found a way to get them to be quiet,” wrote Cairns under a picture of her students with duct tape over their mouths.
In the news segment, anchors Leon Bibb and Lee Jordan build up the story in a dramatic way, but they keep their information vague to pique the audience’s interest. Akron reporter Bob Jones progresses the story with an announcement that NewsChannel5 has an exclusive interview with Cairns. The word “exclusive” holds the attention of the audience on an even more profound level because the information seems coveted, or secret.
Also, an on-the-scene interview promotes the feeling of action, which makes the story exciting to viewers. In the interview, Cairns explains to NewsChannel5 that she regrets posting the picture, but she believes that the school board is overreacting. According to Cairns, her students thought the duct tape incident was funny and asked Cairns to take a picture.
The segment proceeds to an interview with Jason Haas, president of the Akron School Board, who gives his perspective on the conflict. Haas informs NewsChannel5 that Cairns violated certain Federal protection laws for the students by posting the image on Facebook. NewsChannel5 closes the interviews with an emotional clip from Cairns. She relays the great bonding moment that the duct tape inspired between Cairns and her students. The news segment returns to Bob Jones to wrap up the final details on the issue.
NewsChannel5 reports the Cairns conflict in a factual and concise manner, but the station manages to capture the emotional quality of the issue as well. By incorporating different perspectives, NewsChannel5 portrays the story in an objective context. The progression from anchor, to reporter, to interviews and back makes the report feel like a story. NewsChannel5 leaves its viewers informed and anxious for further details on the Cairns conflict to emerge.