MISSOURI –– A lead story on St. Louis’ KSDK-TV news station prompteda local supermarket to issue a public apology for confiscating and destroyinga student reporter’s film.
The incident occurred when three students from the Webster Groves HighSchool Echoconfronted a manager at Schnucks Supermarket to ask whya store employee sold cigarettes to two of the students — both of whomare under 18. Echoreporters Hilary Johnson and Katie Zach boughtthe cigarettes as part of a story about stores that illegally sell cigarettesto minors.
On Jan.6, the two underage reporters went to 12 different stores andwere able to purchase cigarettes at six of them. The next day, they wentback to the stores with Echoeditor Amy Cook and her camera in orderto get comments from the merchants that sold them cigarettes.
According to Echoadviser Donald Johnson, when the girls returnedto Schnucks, store co-manager Jane Cooper told them they were lying andhad not purchased the cigarettes illegally. The students then showed Coopera receipt, but according to Donald Johnson, Cooper told them that someonewith a fake ID or someone who was older had bought the cigarettes.
“The situation was getting a little tense,” said Donald Johnson, “sothe young ladies started to leave and [Cooper] said, ‘Oh no, we’re goingto settle this right here and now.'” Then Cooper took Cook’s camera andcut up her film.
Following KSDK-TV’s report on the incident, Schnucks apologized publiclyfor Cooper’s actions and gave Cook a coupon for five free rolls of filmand developing.
The story about underage smoking was published in the Echo’sJan.28 edition.