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Amy Jacobson Fired for Bikini Meeting with Craig Stebic: Public Reaction

Sat July 14 2007 7:34 am  http://www.arlingtoncardinal.com/?p=1785
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When most folks first hear the story of Amy Jacobson meeting with Craig Stebic, now a ‘person of interest’ in the missing Lisa Stebic case, they shake their heads wondering if they really read or heard what they just learned. When they learn that her children were with her, it gets even more strange. And when they learn she is on the phone a lot of the time that she is at the Stebic home, they ponder ‘what was up with that?’

The story is interesting because it touches on a lot of issues: business rivalry, professional courtesy, ethical journalism, whether ends justify the means, foresight in issues of personal conduct, good parenting, dressing for success, sexism and gender bias.

Public reaction is mostly in agreement with the NBC5 decision to fire Amy Jacobson. Here’s a sample of the reactions:

Some think it is simply a matter of NBC5 not wanting to get any ‘icky’ on them. Whether anything strange was happening or not, the incident appears suspicious and strange. When you add up all the assumptions and unknowns that accumulate from the appearance of the incident, NBC5 is forced to fire Amy Jacobson or lose out because they appear that they tolerate a lack of ethics and professionalism and risk losing credibility as a major news outlet.

Most believe there was no salacious behavior with physical contact going on, but some wonder if she wasn’t using her body to tease Craig Stebic into open discussion just like another reporter might use liquor to loosen up a subject or possible source at a bar. Some see hypocrisy in this judgment of Amy’s methods.

Some believe that it is a little mixed up that she can repeatedly call what she did a “mistake” or a ‘lapse of judgment’ and then claim that it wouldn’t be an issue if she were a man.

Some believe that it is mixed up thinking on Amy’s part that she new that it was a lapse of judgment, but that she thinks her behavior would be OK if she were on to something.

Some believe that somebody or several people at CBS2 News really had a reason to ‘stick it to her’ — thinking somebody in the news industry didn’t like her or her previous tactics of investigative reporting.

Some wonder if Craig Stebic and his sister, Jill, set up Amy Jacobson for this exposure — suggesting speculation that Craig Stebic felt Amy Jacobson was getting too close to the truth and had his sister “set her up” with an invitation while a person with a video camera was planted next door.

Some say, “if the source is not identifiable, then it is not a source.”  CBS has not released the identity of the source that supplied the videotape.

Many find it appalling that she would bring her children into a scene of a missing person investigation that more and more looks like it might become a murder investigation … and that she would expose her children to someone who could eventually become a murder suspect.

Journalism experts criticize her claim that she was friends with Lisa Stebic’s side of the family and that she had reason to balance that friendship with Craig Stebic’s side. They think that sounds mixed up and sort of ‘double agent-like.’ The experts point out that journalists should not actually become friends with their sources and possible suspects in police investigation. The experts say that an ethics line was crossed becoming friends with sources or subjects in such an important case.

Many believe there is a lot more to this story. That Amy Jacobson might have had a history of similar transgressions and NBC5 finally had to do something. Some think she might have actually learned something important about the case (she met with the police one week ago Friday), since Craig Stebic’s status was changed to ‘person of interest’ this past week. Some wonder who she was talking to on the phone for so long during her visit at the Stebic house.

Review of the story …

     
Left to right: Amy Jacobson PR photo, career-ending move, Craig Stebic, and missing Lisa Stebic.

Amy Jacobson, NBC TV, Chicago – General Assignment Reporter has been fired after a videotape was aired by rival television news station CBS2 Chicago showing her in a compromising position — being in a bikini at the home of a shirtless Craig Stebic. Jacobson said she was called on her day off by Craig Stebic’s sister, Jill, who invited her to the southwest suburban Plainfield home to discuss the case. Jill was also present at the Stebic home with her children. Amy Jacobson was on her way to the East Bank Club pool with her two young children when she diverted to the Stebic home — still with her children.

Hersey High School graduate Amy Jacobson was fired about one week after she was videotaped in a bathing suit near the pool. Amy Jacobson’s two children were at the Stebic home, but were not shown on tape because the tape was edited to pixelate the images of the children to protect their identity. The videotape was offered to CBS 2 Chicago by an unnamed source. The tape was not aired or published on the CBS 2 Chicago website until newspaper reports of the incident appeared in the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times.

A six-minute video shot Friday, aired Tuesday morning, and posted on the CBS 2 Chicago website a little later, showed Jacobson wearing a bikini top and towel near the pool at Craig Stebic’s suburban Plainfield home. According to Amy Jacobson, the tape editing did not show other times when she was in discussion with Craig Stebic. She claims the editing made the situation look worse than reality.

Amy Jacobson graduated from John Hersey High School in the 1980’s and later graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Iowa in broadcasting and film. Her TV career has included stints in Minnesota, Iowa, Texas, Arizona, Michigan and finally in 1996 she joined Channel 5 NBC in Chicago. She is one of the most respected reporters in the area and has been a featured reporter on the Today Show and has appeared on stories picked up by the NBC network.

Lisa Stebic, has been missing since April 30. Craig and Lisa Stebic, who have two children, were in the midst of a divorce.

Read the Chicago Sun-Times Story: The video that got Amy fired.

Read Amy Jacobson’s interview on WGN-AM including reader comments: `I can’t apologize enough’

Keywords: Lisa Stebic, Amy Jacobsen, Amy Jacobson

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IMPORTANT NOTE: All persons referred to as subjects, defendants, offenders or suspects, etc. are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


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