Rarely has a news story generated the kind of reaction WWL-TV has seen since the airing of Eric Paulsen’s Taking a Stand piece last night on street violence.
Tens of thousands of people have seen it all over the country and the comments have varied from those shocked at the video, those applauding us for showing how quickly a disagreement can escalate to violence, and those who criticized us for what some called a cheap ratings ploy.
My name is Keith Esparros and I’m the News Director here at WWL-TV. I can assure you this was no ratings ploy. Violence is not anything we take lightly, or see as entertainment. The story takes viewers to a part of the city that many never see. Most of the time, we don’t want to see it. It’s ugly. It’s brutal. It’s scary. But we wanted to show it’s real, and it’s a problem not only for those who live among the violence. It’s everyone’s problem. Because when our neighbors are not safe, none of us is. If the city isn’t safe, it will hurt all of us. We must see the violence to know how to combat it. We must acknowledge it before we can attempt to reduce it.
The violence issue is key to our future. It’s one of the reasons WWL-TV has launched its Taking a Stand Initiative. We feel it’s crucial to understand the causes and effects of violence, to look at those who are making a difference, and to try to change the conversation on an issue that will help determine the direction of our region.
GNO Inc. Board Chairwoman Maura Donahue said, “Companies do not want to bring their employees to this area to open, to expand or to relocate, unless they can ensure their employees a safe place for themselves and their families.”
And without new business, new entrepreneurship, new opportunities for all New Orleanians, the wheel of violence will turn undisturbed. Our video showed a bloody, brutal, and near fatal beating in the 8th Ward of one of America’s greatest cities. But this isn’t just a fight between two men. This is a fight for our future.