Fox 9 News (KMSP) hit another high point in their stellar news coverage. Instead of, you know, reporting the news, they were going to be the news. How? They had this great idea to play pretend pedophile, drive around in a pedo-van (unmarked SUV) and try to get unsuspecting Edina kids to talk to a stranger. Why didn't we think of this?
The piece would piggyback off a story about an attempted child abduction in Edina last week. They wanted to know: How dumb are these kids really?
Well, they decided to be nice and warn the police so they didn't look like real creeps. That plan backfired and the news story was canned. Now Fox reporters will have to actually admit their inappropriate love of children and unmarked vehicles.
Parents of Cornelia Elementary students got an email from Principal Chris Holden. Here is an excerpt from the email, via MPR:
This message details information about a "news" story KMSP Fox 9 will be "creating". Thanks...The email sparked some outrage and Fox decided to drop the story, says the Star Tribune. "Fox officials insist that the story never left the planning stages and that if it had gone forward, they would have gotten parental permission before approaching any children."
Molly Anderson of the Edina Police Department just informed the district that KMSP Fox 9 will be driving around Edina neighborhoods between 2:00-4:30 p.m. today to "ask children for directions." She indicated that the reporter, Trish Van Pilsim will be driving a 2004 silver Ford Explorer or Expedition.
The police indicated while there is nothing illegal with this, they do not endorse this activity.
Please remind our children that they are not to speak with strangers. They should walk, and if necessary, run away from a vehicle if they are asked to get into the car, the car follows, them, etc. They should seek out an adult they know, go to a house they are familiar with, etc. Safety first!
While it might not be illegal to pull this ridiculous stunt, the ethics are another issue. It's one thing to try and get adults to do embarrassing things on tape to add drama to a story, but these are unsuspecting and innocent kids and you put them on TV making a silly mistake. That's beyond the simple fact that you'll likely freak out and confuse a lot of kids. And it's Trish Van Pilsum being the creepy pedophile. Does she really look that dangerous or likely to stalk children? Maybe you shouldn't answer that question.
It might be a story to say that Edina kids are too trusting of strange adults, but you could do a ton of other "newsworthy" stories while tricking children to prove a point that wouldn't feel right either. Should we get physically close enough to kids to see how they react to a potential kidnapping? Do we set fake fires near their bedrooms to see if they can safely escape from their bedroom? Do we show up at their homes while they are babysitting their little siblings to see if they answer the door to a stranger?
If Fox reporters actually get busted cruising for kids, we'll know where the idea came from.