News 12 GM Jacques Natz Ousted After Internal Investigation
One month after TVNewsCheck published a story about workplace toxicity at the News 12 New Jersey cable news channel, part of AlticeUSA’s News 12 network based in the New York metropolitan area, Jacques Natz, the network’s general manager, has been relieved of his duties.
A statement from an AlticeUSA representative said News 12 personnel have been informed of Natz’s “departure” and that Keith Bowen, president of Altice News and Advertising, “will be stepping in to lead News 12’s editorial and operations teams.”
Several sources close to the situation tell TVNewsCheck that Bowen has been named “interim GM” and that the company is working to replace Natz permanently.
“News 12 remains committed to serving communities across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut with the highest standard in hyperlocal news, sharing the stories that matter most to its viewers through its award-winning news content every day,” the AlticeUSA statement also said.
No reason for Natz’s firing was given.
Sources for TVNewsCheck‘s article covering News 12 New Jersey said that Natz, who’d been hired by AlticeUSA in May 2020, had micromanaged his employees to such an extent that five members of the editorial staff resigned from the station in quick succession earlier this summer. They and other staffers had a litany of complaints about Natz’s management, starting with a rigidity of scheduling that put undue burden on workers and their families, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a general lack of compassion on his part toward employees.
With Natz at the helm, morale has dissolved at the station, sources also said. Personnel felt as though upper management did not trust them to do their jobs effectively, sources said, adding that his leadership style left them uninspired, disillusioned and afraid to make independent decisions.
Natz, as well as other leaders put in charge of News 12 New Jersey in the six years since Altice purchased the cable channel group, had instigated programming changes that sources felt took airtime away from the impactful local storytelling that News 12 network consumers have relied upon for years. The injection of sponsored content and broad, general interest stories crafted for air across News 12 networks, sources said, flew in the face of the station group’s “hyperlocal” branding.
Finally, sources said Natz refused to take accountability for the response from employees to his hyper-controlling management style.
Following TVNewsCheck’s initial story about the News 12 New Jersey resignations, sources close to the situation have provided proof that Altice launched an investigation into the allegations outlined in the piece. Bowen wrote an email to News 12 employees, obtained by TVNewsCheck, noting: “I take the allegations in the article very seriously, and we will conduct a thorough investigation to better understand the situation. We strive to create a work environment and culture built on excellence and respect, and maintaining that is absolutely critical to the continued success of the network and our people.”
Bowen added that Altice is committed to newsroom integrity and to the hyperlocal programming that’s been part of the brand since the cable channel group was founded by the Dolan family. He also wrote that he was open to hearing “concerns related to the article,” personally, from his employees, and that the human resources department and worker managers would also listen. The group’s “integrity hotline” number was also included as well as a web address to a page where personnel could file incident reports.
Multiple internal emails sent to TVNewsCheck by sources confirm that AlticeUSA had hired “a third-party neutral investigator,” as described by Bowen in another email. He also wrote that he’d visited the network’s newsrooms and discussed workplace conditions with employees.