Melanie Standiford, the news director and co-anchor at KNOP-TV in North Platte, Nebraska was fired this week because of her activity supporting a pro-life ballot initiative.
The mother of nine was released from her job, according to the North Platte Bulletin “after station officials told her that she was mixing partisan politics with her job as a journalist. At issue was ‘sanctuary’ cities for unborn children.”
Standiford told The John-Henry Westen Channel that she had no reason to believe that helping her church collect signatures was an ethical violation.
She stated that when reporting the news, she’s always been careful to report both sides of every story. She said she’s also careful to write in a fair and unbiased way.
In the station’s handbook there is a statement that employees cannot practice partisan politics. Standiford didn’t believe that collecting signatures in her church violated that standard but the station disagreed.
Administrators at the station learned about Standiford’s activities from an article in Flatwater Free Press. The article covers the activity of Lutheran pastor, Bill Forbes, as he collected signatures to ban abortion in Paxton, NE. Forbes reported 138 people signed the petition. The reporter also covered several others involved.
The article explains, “Six Nebraska towns, including Paxton, will vote this year on whether to ban abortion within city limits, as the national debate over abortion makes its way into small-town ballot boxes. Three Nebraska towns have already passed their own bans. More cities are gathering signatures to try the same – including Bellevue, home to one of the state’s three abortion clinics.”
The article states that in Curtis, Standiford collected 47 signatures. Standiford, herself a Lutheran, believed her pro-life position to be well-known. “Curtis calls itself the Easter City of Nebraska. Three crosses overlook the town of 806 from a nearby hill. Everyone she knows is Christian and anti-abortion, Standiford said in an interview with the Flatwater Free Press. In her mind, the ordinance would be so widely supported that it wouldn’t be controversial.”
The station issued a statement to The Christian Post that read in part, “KNOP’s news personnel are not permitted, at any time and regardless of beliefs, to actively engage in any political activity for any candidate, party, or ballot initiative.”
Standiford also provided a statement reporting, “This was my church and with the people in my community that I know personally and on my own time.”
She added, “the news station was not clear that the company’s policy extended to gathering signatures from ‘like-minded Christians.'”
She asserts the station has never found an issue with her reporting, which she believes she’s been careful to keep balanced and fair.
Standiford reported for the station for five years and was awarded a gold award from “the Nebraska Broadcasters Association for her coverage of special needs children.” She was well-known for her Facebook Live reports and had 11,000 followers on her professional Facebook page.