FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Jan. 11, 2001)—The Tire Retread Information Bureau´s complaints over an unfavorable report about retreads on a Fort Wayne television station have sparked the original news team to revisit the subject.
A two-part news story by reporter David Scott which appeared late last year on WANE-TV was "the single most damaging attack against retreading I have ever seen," according to TRIB Managing Director Harvey Brodsky in a Dec. 14 memo.
The people interviewed for the story attacked retreads "almost without exception," and the reporting was "one-sided and disgracefully sloppy," according to Mr. Brodsky. Furthermore, the station used excerpts from "Dispelling Myths About Rubber on the Road," a video copyrighted by TRIB and the International Rubber & Tire Association, without permission, he said.
Six days later, according to a later TRIB memo, WANE-TV agreed to visit Fort Wayne retreader Isaac Tire Inc., whose co-owner, Rick Slabaugh, sent Mr. Brodsky the tape of the report. The visit took place Dec. 28, attended by Mr. Scott, Mr. Brodsky, Mr. Slabaugh and Don Schauer of Bandag Inc.
"It went very, very well," Mr. Brodsky said. "The reporter told me, `This was the first time I didn´t do my homework. I should have checked if there were retreading plants in Fort Wayne."´
Mr. Brodsky said he wasn´t sure when the new report would air, but added that the news team shot about an hour´s worth of footage, and said the report might air as a special in February.
"I was pleased as punch with the visit, and the news team left as good friends," he said. "I only hope I don´t have to eat those words!´´
Mr. Brodsky has been disturbed by a recent upswing in negative publicity about retreads. About the same time as the WANE-TV report ran, WISH-TV in Indianapolis ran its own anti-retread story, "Treading Dangerously," and recent TRIB reports of newspaper articles negative to retreads have come thick and fast.
"I hope there´s no secret agenda," he said. "The entire industry is under a microscope because of the Firestone recall. All of a sudden, it´s a cause. Before, if someone wrote a negative letter to the newspaper about retreads, a legislator would let it go. But now, it´s a scandal."
Like others in the industry, Mr. Brodsky is concerned that negative articles about retreading are being planted by people with vested interests.
During a recent industry meeting, he said, "I heard a remark that made my blood run cold. Someone said, `What you are seeing is the trial lawyers creating a jury pool for the next 15 years."´