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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Orlando television station WFTV can kiss my ass

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2019 at 2:14 PM

click to enlarge SCREENGRAB VIA WFTV
  • Screengrab via WFTV
Since nothing is easier than scaring the public with images of "the homeless," I regretfully am here to report that Orlando's WFTV is back on their bullshit, and they can officially kiss my very fortunate non-homeless ass.

For the past two years, Channel 9 has run the exact same horribly transparent story about homeless people getting occasionally kicked out of the Orange Country Public Library branch in downtown Orlando, which says absolutely nothing except that libraries are useful institutions.

But unfortunately that's not the point of this annually regurgitated turd, this time titled "Homeless people continue to gather at downtown Orlando library."

The point, if there is one, is that low-income residents are present at the downtown library facility, and occasionally they get kicked out for things like sleeping, eating, not having shoes, disorderly conduct, looking at porn, and all the other obvious things you'd expect to happen at THE LARGEST and one of the busiest libraries in Florida.

Last year, Channel 9 reporter Karla Ray had the pleasure of captaining this trash barge, but this year that honor apparently went to Jason Kelly and Steve Barrett.

Their slightly updated segment features some new stats, like how there are currently 220 people banned from the county library system, and 134 people have been banned since the last time they did this story, which equals to almost one person getting trespassed every three days.

However, the point that isn't stressed here is that OCLS has 17 branch libraries, and not every trespass occurred at the downtown branch. It also doesn't say if the 134 are the same people, or if these are new people with new infractions.

But most importantly, many of the trespasses mentioned in WFTV's story may not even involve homeless people at all. Officers with the Orlando Police Department don't check a "homeless" box when someone gets kicked out. "We never ask people what their status is. These books are only categorized by date," says Erin Sullivan, the public relations administrator for Orange County Public Libraries. 

This point is most evident when Barrett looks at the camera with a straight face and even says, "There's no way of telling exactly how many people are homeless," to which he then points at the homeless shelter across the street and says, "you can see over here, there's a homeless feeding right next door."

A "homeless feeding." 

My god. The audacity of these people. How dare they escape the recent 50 degree temps in public spaces to get food, or "charge their phones" or seek shelter.

Frankly, this piece could be done with any demographic. Why not go through the incident reports and look for all the teens kicked out? Or the elderly? "Old people continue to gather at Orlando library" is a headline I would love to see.

Homeless people will always use the library, that's one of the great things about a library, and it proves that this amazing institution actually works. They are supposed to be there! And, rather than exploring any of the root causes of our city's homeless population, WFTV ran what essentially is a "look at these poors" segment.

So in honor of WFTV duplicating the same dumb piece two years in a row, here's what I wrote last time:
The irony here is that this is what libraries are supposed to do. Poor people, just like everyone else, need the internet to access social services and apply for jobs. A recent study from the Pew Research Center found that 30 percent of people who use libraries are looking for jobs or seeking job assistance.


Nowhere in this segment does it mention this, nor how small of a percentage 220 people are in the total number of those that use Orange County libraries daily.

Most importantly, the story fails to mention the role of the modern library system as more than just a place to borrow books or use the internet. If you weren't aware, the downtown branch actually offers a ton of useful classes, most of which are free to the public. People can get help with a résumé, learn photography or sound engineering, or further their job skills on Wordpress, PowerPoint or Excel.

There's a million reasons to go to a library.
None of this should be surprising. While I'm not opposed to reporting on low-hanging fruit, trying to dunk on the library is just lazy and lame.

But this is the same station that ran such classics as "Lake Eola is a terrorist target" and last year's horrific headline regarding a "man dressed as a woman," about the murder of transgender sex worker Sasha Garden. So yeah, WFTV can unequivocally kiss my ass.

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