A five year racketeering investigation that has captivated Ohio has culminated in a former county commissioner standing trial. The trial is in federal court, where cameras and all recording devices are barred, making it not too TV-friendly.
But one news director had a solution: Bring in the puppets.
For the past three nights, at the end of the ten o’clock news on WOIO and its sister station WUAB, a talking squirrel reporter has brought viewers into “The Puppet’s Court” where puppets re-enact the day’s often salacious wiretaps and testimony from the trial of former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, who is accused of accepting bribes from a local contractor. The wiretaps and testimony have mentioned everything from a topless hot tub trip in Las Vegas to $4,000 dinners and Rolex watches.
Dan Salamone, the news director of WOIO, said the unorthodox idea was a way to bring viewers a visualization of the trial while also lampooning the colorful testimony.
“The testimony is, in some cases, juvenile and offensive but nevertheless eye-popping,” Salamone told ABCNews.com.
According to comments on their site, viewers enjoyed the irreverent approach to covering the trial.
But those who prefer their news the traditional way don’t have to worry.
“People who want a blow by blow will still get it in the first five minutes of the newscast,” Salamone said.
The trial, which began last week, is expected to last three months.
Dimora has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery and racketeering. He will also face another trial on a separate indictment.