Reporter Tom Lyden of KMSP-TV allegedly took the tape April 27 from a parked car near the home of a professional boxer accused of staging dogfights. Lyden turned the tape over to police May 2 — after he had copied it for use on the air. The station aired parts of the tape the following day.
Lyden was charged with three misdemeanors for the incident, including theft and tampering with a motor vehicle.
Although he originally defended his actions as “aggressive reporting,” Lyden apologized to viewers during the station’s evening newscast Wednesday.
“I went too far,” Lyden said. “I went into an unlocked car and took a videocassette that wasn’t mine. My desire to get the story got the best of me. I should have known better.”
The Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists issued a statement Friday saying Lyden acted unethically when he took the tape.
“Professional journalists cannot and will not condone these types of actions in pursuit of this story,” the statement said.
But KMSP general manager Stu Swartz told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune the group was condemning Lyden before hearing the whole story.
“They are chastising Tom Lyden, but they are assuming all the facts that have been reported are correct,” Swartz said. “The facts will play out over time.”
SPJ Chapter president Gary Hill told the Star-Tribune members of his office had contacted Lyden and others involved in the investigation to check the facts.
Lyden is scheduled to appear in court June 19. But, he said “no matter what happens in court, I was wrong.”
Lyden could face a $700 fine and up to 90 days in prison.