What was she thinking?

What’s WMAQ-TV reporter Amy Jacobson doing at Craig Stebic’s house? Wearing that?

It’s been a weird time in media lately (both locally and nationally), with firings, resignations, fake “deaths” and real deaths, and not-so-pleasant surprises. (It’s been enough to keep this blog busy, even though this weekend.) And it’s now getting weirder….

Amy Jacobson, a reporter for NBC-owned WMAQ-TV was found on Friday on the property of Craig Stebic in southwest suburban Plainfield, who is the husband of Lisa Stebic, who’s been missing for the past two months. The Stebics were in the middle of a divorce.

Ms. Jacobson went to a pool party at Stebic’s house, showing up in a two-piece bikini, with her two young children in tow.

In Rob Feder’s column in the Sun-Times today, Jacobson told her bosses that she was on her way to a health club on the near north side of Chicago when she received a phone call from Mr. Stebic, indicating that he wanted to come to his house to talk about the case.

But wait. This gets better.

From next door, a photographer shot video of Jacobson wearing a bikini top and a towel wrapped around her waist on Stebic’s property and sent it CBS-owned WBBM-TV. The station was deciding on whether or noteto air the video. The station decided to air clips this morning and posted a report on the station’s website.

(As of 2 p.m. the clips were also posted at WBBM-TV ‘s website.)

Many in Chicago’s journalism community are asking whether or not Jacobson’s actions are a conflict of interest. Others are asking whether or not WBBM should show a tape of someone from a competing station doing something unethical, for a ratings advantage.

Meanwhile, Jacobson’s bosses at the NBC-owned station are expected to discipline Jacobson, ranging from either suspension to termination. Jacobson was also advised to get a lawyer. She’s has since been taken off the Stebic case.

Officials at WMAQ declined comment on the matter, saying “it’s under review”.

This is the second time in the last few weeks that there has been a ethics breach in local journalism.

A female news anchor for Telemundo’s KVEA-TV in Los Angeles was caught in an affair with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, thus breaking up his marriage in the process. The controversy has created a firestorm in L.A., and the female anchor has been placed on paid leave.

Both NBC and Telemundo are owned by General Electric.

More: Eric Zorn posted this story on his Chicago Tribune blog, with the humanoids commenting on the controversy (including some guy named T Dog).

updated (now with photo!) at 4:00pm on 2007-07-10

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