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Old     (enzostyle)      Join Date: Aug 2006       07-19-2007, 8:14 AM Reply   
I have heard they are going to shine some negative light on the wakesurfers on Minnesota lakes tonight at 10pm. They are blaming surf wakes on shore erosion. Would this not be true to all wakes?

I will wait till the story comes out before I get too worked up, but I fear this story could be very one sided and biased.
Old     (surfdad)      Join Date: Sep 2004       07-19-2007, 9:11 AM Reply   
Jason, wouldn't it be wiser to be proactive? Perhaps talking with the reporters to make sure that it is an acurate story. If it does happen, I think that we need to address it. Not only in helping the station get the factual information, but also within our own ranks.

It would seem to me that, IF, such a report comes out and is reflective of general opinion, we need to be sure that we encourage wakesurfers to surf responsibly.

May I ask a favor, please? Maybe when we see you in MN next week, I'd like to have the contact info for the station and the reporters name, if possible.
Old     (enzostyle)      Join Date: Aug 2006       07-19-2007, 9:37 AM Reply   
I just heard about it this morning from a friend who saw a commercial for the report. The station in question is not available where I live so he is going to tape for me.

I am trying to get in touch with the station to find out more. I left a message with thier investigative reporter, so hopfully he calls me back.

(Message edited by enzostyle on July 19, 2007)
Old     (enzostyle)      Join Date: Aug 2006       07-19-2007, 11:36 AM Reply   
Well He finally got back to me and my worries have been put to rest!

I don't know why my source told me it was going to be negative but that is not the case!

They are going to be reporting on the dangers of surfing, and how to protect yourself from CO exposure and what boats not to use for surfing.

Hopefully this report sheds some GOOD light on the sport and educates those who are not familiar with what we are doing.
Old     (shawns_no_good)      Join Date: Jul 2007       07-19-2007, 11:42 AM Reply   
I would think that it will be a good thing. Getting some publicity won't hurt at all, and the more people are educated about it, the better. I'm guessing boats not to use would only be i/o boats?
Old     (enzostyle)      Join Date: Aug 2006       07-19-2007, 10:51 PM Reply   
I just watched the report on their web site.

They did not paint a very good picture. Made it out to look like an unsafe activity if you ask me. They gave virtually no information on how to to it safely. Typical fox news cast, all doom and gloom.
Old     (locwakeoutlawscom)      Join Date: Apr 2007       07-20-2007, 10:23 AM Reply   
Here's the report: MN Wakesurf Report

The thing that is weird is I saw 4 Midwest Mastercraft employees there, I hope they took the time to educate the reporters, it might as well have been a CO report. Not disputing what the reporters said but they didn't focus on any steps the wakesurfers were taking to keep it safe - who knows maybe they weren't.

That was a perfect opportunity for them to make a "BIG DEAL" out of it for anyone NOT in an inboard. Or keeping the window open to increase airflow to the back, or limiting peoples ride time. Anything except for the multiple statements of "accident waiting to happen".

You heard PA bans it, it can happen. All of us should do our part to educate and protect the sport whenever the opportunity arises. Thumbs down to Midwest Mastercraft and that group of riders for not requiring FOX to be forced to paint a better picture.

PS: Whoever you are the deck launch with the rope...Sheesh. Dock Launching is FINE, but I would never hold a rope. ALSO, if you are in the public eye, that is the last time to demonstrate your skills.

To most of the world, the viewers, thought you were standing right above the prop - flip to the Lake Sheriff stating "accident waiting to happen", and NOW today, you have someone petitioning the DNR there to review the laws on this sport.
Old     (candicane)      Join Date: Jul 2007       07-20-2007, 1:49 PM Reply   
Well guys maybe we should educate them a little more at the tournament on Wednesday, invite them out and write a real story about the sport.

I watched it and wasn't pleased, I told Tom about it. He hasn't seen it yet.
Old     (enzostyle)      Join Date: Aug 2006       07-20-2007, 2:21 PM Reply   
how about the nurse watching the video! No offense, but what made her an expert on CO exposure in a boat?

They also stated that there have been 14 cases of CO exposure in MN, but they failed to mention the cause of these cases. I would highly doubt they were wakesurf related.

And yes it did seem like the guys from Midwest Mastercraft were just there to showboat and not to educate anyone on the safety issues. It could have been left on the cutting room floor for all we know.

What upset me the most is the reporter returned my call and assured me that they had both sides of the story covered and were not negatively portraying the sport!
Old     (surfdad)      Join Date: Sep 2004       07-20-2007, 9:32 PM Reply   
I think the biggest issue with the spot was that it was misinformed. It's really misleading to say that 1 state, PA isn't taking any chances without also saying - oh and by the way 3 states recently clarified their laws to allow wakesurfing and the leading safety agency for boating laws specifically made wakesurfing legal in promulgating their CO model law. Sheesh.

I have asked to talk with the reporter and hopefully have them attend the Lake Washington wakesurf contest so that we can hopefully show some of the finer points they missed in their report.
Old     (locwakeoutlawscom)      Join Date: Apr 2007       07-20-2007, 9:50 PM Reply   
Good stuff Jeff - straighten them out. I'd join you if Lake WSH was on a Thursday or Friday, the Wednesday is a killer.
Old     (riverrunner)      Join Date: Aug 2006       07-20-2007, 10:15 PM Reply   
Sad to say but, I think it is to late now, not to many reporters that will go back and say they were wrong about something, would show how misinformed they were in the first place.
Old     (surfdad)      Join Date: Sep 2004       07-21-2007, 6:02 AM Reply   
KenW you are most likelt correct, but we'll give it a try just the same. The other option we have is to write a letter to the editor of papers in the local area providing an offset to the biased reporting - won't correct anything, but perhaps it will show that collectively we won't roll over.

Tom Regan is a well respected Tax Attorney in the Minn/St. Paul area and he may be able to influence some change. And if I know Candance, from above, she'll get those folks to the lake. :-)
Old     (surfdad)      Join Date: Sep 2004       07-21-2007, 7:07 AM Reply   
I do love the folks on the board. They are making their voices heard:
Old     (surfnfury65)      Join Date: Aug 2004       07-22-2007, 2:19 PM Reply   
" Somebody is going to get hurt." I guess we should outlaw bull riding, football, hockey, boxing........
Old     (lionel)      Join Date: Nov 2005       07-22-2007, 8:06 PM Reply   
Makes the deputy look ignorant to me.....Keep on educating!!
Old     (mammoth)      Join Date: Apr 2005       07-23-2007, 12:25 PM Reply   
The people from the dealer were probably given a similar explanation as Jason. I bet that they had no reason to believe the reporter was going to spin things, other than common sense.

Never take the word of a reporter describing a story. The final piece will either be spun on purpose, or out of ignorance.

Have any of you ever seen an accurate news piece, on a subject that you know something about?
Old     (timmyb)      Join Date: Apr 2007       07-23-2007, 1:05 PM Reply   
Sorry to see how a great story turned into a negative piece but you can call/write/email that reporter all you want, they aren't going to run another story on how they misinformed. IMO, you would be better off contacting another station and getting them to come out to the competition you are having stating that FOX mislead the public or had a negative twist on something that they shouldn't have. Not surprising, it is a FOX station - not the highest quality local news reporting out there.

(Message edited by timmyb on July 23, 2007)
Old     (priorlakemn)      Join Date: Dec 2004       07-23-2007, 2:23 PM Reply   
Good ole Brett is the deputy who patrols Prior Lake, he's not the nicest guy in the world and has stopped us for wakesurfing to educate us on how dangerous it is.
Old     (jleger98)      Join Date: Oct 2003       07-26-2007, 2:49 PM Reply   
Here is another thread over at


I wrote the guy an email that said this. We'll see if he responds. I'm not holding my breath.

Jeff –

I saw your piece on wakesurfing on your site. As an avid surfer, it’s great to see the sport get some attention. That said, it shocks me how uneducated the authorities in your story were. If you have the right boat (an inboard) and a way to get rid of the CO, there is very little that can go wrong.

On my boat, I measured, the prop is more than 3 feet in front of the back of the swim platform. Moving at 5-10 mph, there is no way possible to get to the prop from behind the boat.

My boat also has something called a Fresh Air Exhaust system. This system directs the exhaust down into the water where it gets filtered and ejected over a greater area which reduces the CO level the rider is exposed to by a very significant amount. I would like to see the tester your one HCMC person has being held by a rider riding with one of these systems. Of course, if you measure when the boat is standing still there will be lots of CO, so you shut the motor off if you are sitting still.

That said, there are plenty of idiots out there (excuse the language) who try to surf using an I/O or an outboard (the guy who got hit by the prop on Minnetonka earlier this summer I’ll be was one). These are the people that the Sheriff should be warning and stopping. Any time I see someone surfing behind something other than an inboard, I will go over to them and tell them why they should not be doing what they are doing, and even offer to let them ride behind my boat.

Bottom line, I think your piece, while it did offer both sides, gave an overall negative outlook on the sport in general. Having a bunch of 20-somethings say it’s all good and then have a Sheriff’s deputy and a HCMC official say its dangerous is not what I would call balanced. I do say this with some amount of expertise, being a “retired” member of the media (10 years).

Anyway, thanks for your time. You are more than welcome to come out and surf on my boat any time if you like.

(Message edited by jleger98 on July 26, 2007)

(Message edited by jleger98 on July 26, 2007)
Old     (jleger98)      Join Date: Oct 2003       07-26-2007, 2:51 PM Reply   
Timmy -

Strangely enough, my wife is the executive producer over at Ch5 here in Minneapolis. I'll see if I can get them to "counter"
Old     (surfdad)      Join Date: Sep 2004       07-27-2007, 4:41 AM Reply   
As KenW and others surmized, I didn't get any response from the TV. The local folks principally stated that the station is known for 'stirring the pot' and spinning the info to fit their preconcieved notion...THEN labeling it investigative reporting.

Joel, it would be great if the station your wife works for could do a counter story, but perhaps the best we can hope for is to express our opinions using other media.

The Mankato Free Press covers the Lake Washington event every year and would be more than responsive to letters to the editor, I'm sure.

I would encourage everyone that saw the report to take advantage of getting the word out. It really does us no good to grumble and mutter here, or even to write to the station, they already have formed their opinions. What we need is to get our message out to folks that have been mislead by that irresponsible TV report.
Old     (jleger98)      Join Date: Oct 2003       07-27-2007, 7:09 AM Reply   
I do know a guy at that station, I can try to see what his take is. But yes, that is very typical. Most local stations will simply sit back and, look at all the attention we are getting.
Old     (entrustclothing)      Join Date: Jul 2005       07-27-2007, 12:25 PM Reply   
man people are dumb :-(
Old     (mwmc_andy)      Join Date: Dec 2005       07-30-2007, 1:51 PM Reply   
We are the local MC dealer and it was our Liquid Force rep's boat which was used in the story. Here is a letter I sent to the clown at Fox 9. They told the guys from the U of M ski/wakeboard team they were looking for footage on the sport and in no way made it clear that the story was about the safety of the sport.

Mr. Ballion,

I am writing to express my disappointment in your recent story on wake surfing. I am very disappointed in the way Fox 9 chose to handle this story.

My first concern relates to how Fox 9 represented the story to the participants in the video. My dealership was pulled into the story by the University of Minnesota Waterski and Wakeboard team who had been contacted by Fox 9 about wake surfing. Since we are a sponsor of the U of M team they contacted our store for help. From the way you presented the story to the students and participants in the video, they believed that you were looking to show coverage on one of the fastest growing new water sports. They in no way understood that you were doing a story on safety concerns related to wake surfing. I find it extremely poor journalistic judgement to use college students (participants of the sport) in a story on the safety of a sport rather than ask an industry expert. If the WSIA (Water Sports Industry Association) or a member retailer would have been contacted more detailed accurate information could have been provided to your viewers (probably at the cost of the story as it was produced).

If you really felt there was a safety issue concerning wake surfing, you did a great injustice in the way the safety concerns were covered. Your story expressed two potential dangers of wake surfing, carbon monoxide from exhaust fumes and potential bodily injury from the propeller of the tow boat.

The Fox 9 coverage mentioned that there have been 16 boating related Carbon Monoxide injuries reported to the Minnesota DNR since 1990. None of the reported cases are in any way related to wake surfing. How many people have been struck by lightning in MN since 1990? Is wake surfing or walking outside a greater statistical risk to warn your viewers about?

If you or the medical expert you used in the story felt that there are carbon monoxide concerns, why did you not have someone ride in a tube (to keep the instrument dry) and get an actual carbon monoxide reading in the location a wake surfer rides? The WSIA (Water Sports Industry Association) did this carbon monoxide testing and found the sport to be safe. Your coverage concerning carbon monoxide was a better example of sensational journalism than an honest effort to see if a new sport is actually dangerous to participants.

Your story also referenced the possibility of injury resulting form contact of the wake surfer to the propeller of the tow boat. This is a very real possibility in outboard and inboard/outboard powered boats. I feel Fox 9 could have done a much better job of showing the real danger of wake surfing and how this danger is 100% derived from the propulsion type of the tow boat.

In this story Fox 9 chose to make compelling TV rather than answer any potential safety questions concerning a fast growing new sport. It is this reason that I have lost my respect in the journalistic integrity of your station and will choose another source to deliver my news.


Andy Larson
Midwest MasterCraft &

I sent this to the reporters' email address listed on the Fox 9 web site a week ago but have not seen any response. I can't wait until their station calls again looking for us to advertise!
Old     (jleger98)      Join Date: Oct 2003       07-30-2007, 2:41 PM Reply   
Andy, very well written letter. Its too bad you will likely not get an answer, nor will the rest of us that sent emails, whether to Jeff himself or the general mailbox.

I received an email reply from a friend of mine at that station. He was out of town when the story ran and had not seen it. He also said that their "investigative" unit runs its own show and works independent of the rest of the newsroom. That said, he was going to ask around to see what the "real deal" is.
Old     (mwmc_andy)      Join Date: Dec 2005       07-31-2007, 10:42 AM Reply   

Thanks. I think I will email a link to this thread to Jeff Ballion. I know a ton of customers have emailed him.

I get the feeling that the Fox 9 Investigative news team is made up of people who where not smart enough to make it in law school but still wanted to find a way to chase ambulances.

I would bet that I am more likely to be killed in a auto accident driving to a lake than to be killed while wakesurfing.

It is nice to know that they will not let a few little things like research and facts get in the way of a good story.
Old     (surfdad)      Join Date: Sep 2004       07-31-2007, 3:55 PM Reply   

Truly a great letter, eloquent and direct. I appreciate you taking the time to address the biased news report.

Now what?

We, as a group of enthusiasts, have no advocay or representation. Andy was mislead by a reporter with less than stellar ethics and I'm sure won't make that mistake again. We all have learned that MN Channel 9 news prefers sensationalism to the truth and or facts.

We also know that for the most part, none of us is willing to do much about our outrage.

Is that ok with everyone? If the next misleading report isn't from a station known for it's lack of journalistic ethics, are we just going to let it happen?

Should we just allow MN 9 to air garbage like this? It seems to me yelling at MN Ch 9 does nothing, it would be much better to inform the advertisers of MN Ch 9 news about our concerns over their lack of ethical standards, practiced.

Or does anyone care to do more than just bemoan this situation?

At the very least it seems to me that we are desperately in need of education to the media in general.

What is the general opinion out there? Ignore this or does it make sense to be prepared for the next situation where an ignorant and biased reporter goes off half-cocked?
Old     (phatsac)      Join Date: Feb 2007       07-31-2007, 4:17 PM Reply   
WOW. i just took the time to watch that lame piece of trash that they call a "report". I agree with Jeff on this one. we need to be prepared so something like this doesnt happen again. things like that will cause our sport to shrink rather than grow. Another thing we could do is inform new comers and people that are interested so they know the truth and dont go by what others who have no knowledge whatsoever of boating or wakesurfing have said.

Next time i have a question about the safety of a water sport, i'm gunna go ask a nurse at the local hospital what to do.
Old     (jleger98)      Join Date: Oct 2003       07-31-2007, 8:06 PM Reply   
I completely agree that something needs to be done. Unfortunately trying to get to their advertisers is a long shot at best. As a whole, the TV industry these days, and yes that includes local news, is all about entertainment and not about actual news. They try to make it "seem" like news, but tell me, what is the news value of covering a "serious car accident" where everyone walked away? Does it matter to the people who are stuck in traffic? No, they don't have TV's in their cars. Its like a train wreck, people just keep watching. In my 10+ years in the local media, in 4 different TV markets, its all the same. Do whatever you have to in order to get people to watch. How many times does the media cover meaningful stories that actually affect the general publis? Not too often. Yes, there are stories which are compelling, and yes they can rationalize almost any story they come up with. But there is very little outside perspective in a TV Newsroom. This became very clear to me when I finally got out of that business and got a "real job".

As you can tell, I am no fan of local TV. It simply serves to fill the pockets of the TV execs. One station here in Minneapolis operates consistently with a 50+% profit margin, so for every $1 they spend, they get $1.50 back. Do you think they do that by presenting the news? No, they do it by providing pretty pictures and attractive anchors so people will want to keep watching. The "news content" is just an excuse.

I'll stop ranting now. The gist of the matter is that we have no leverage over the media unless there is a significant effort put forth to hit them in the pocket book by going after advertisers. I am wide open to ideas here, but it seems to me that educating the media is one of the best paths to go down in this case.

(Message edited by jleger98 on July 31, 2007)
Old     (jpk)      Join Date: Sep 2005       08-04-2007, 12:28 AM Reply   
This is why journalists consistently rank as the least respected profession. Even lower than politicians, if I recall. It's not just local news, all the cable news channels, prime time news, and printed news are just people mouthing off their own personal opinions and providing very little real information. These people have to make up stuff on short notice and have little time to think about the validity of their facts and conclusions. They mouth off on something, and then move on to the next topic, promptly forgetting whatever they said and any potential ramifications.


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