Kevin Dietz, fired as a WDIV reporter last month over a comment during a June journalism conference, is now subbing on WJR.
A tweet Wednesday shows Dietz filling in for Paul W. Smith.
Dietz also sat in for Smith a couple weeks ago and plans to cover a few shifts next week for Frank Beckmann's 9 a.m.-noon shift, the Detroit Free Press reports.
The award-winning reporter wrote on Facebook last month that he was fired because of a comment about a black reporter during an Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Houston in June.
The remark was an offhand joke, he posted:
The decision to leave was the result of an incident that occurred at the investigative reporters’ conference I recently attended in Houston.
One of our company’s theme during the conference was recruiting, in general, and recruiting minorities, specifically.
While attending a social event during the conference, we took a WDIV team photo and I jokingly said to the group “We are probably going to have to crop the black reporter out of the photo.” The intent of my comment was to openly acknowledge, amongst team members, the challenge it’s been for our company, and many companies, to achieve diversity goals. This is a serious subject that I approached through humor. Nevertheless, the station has a zero tolerance policy on racially insensitive comments and they determined, despite the intent and context of my statement, that it violated the policy. I understand and support the need for such policies.
The African American reporter in the photo was not offended, there was no “caught on camera” situation, no social media controversy, and no complaints of any kind about the comment at the time. Still the comment made it back to the water cooler conversation at WDIV the following week and quickly took on a life of its own. The African American reporter went to human resources to defend me. He expressed that we are friends, conveyed to them all the help I have given him throughout his career, and the long list of stories I have done on television fighting against racism in Michigan.
It is important to include the fact that alcohol was provided at this event and, according to management, was a factor in my termination.
I regret the fact that it happened, and apologize to anyone I might have offended. I love Detroit and everyone who calls it "home." Every situation creates opportunity for personal growth, and that is how I view this event in my life.