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KELO-TV Uses Suicide Victim as Branding Opportunity

A young, ambitious, service-minded Sioux Falls woman killed herself a couple weeks ago. Fit that into our preceding discussions of South Dakota’s record-high suicide rate as you will.

But permit me a moment of media critique as the weekend crew at KELO-TV use this suicide victim as one more branding opportunity:

KELO-TV, news article, 2018.07.29.
KELO-TV, news article, 2018.07.29.

Speaking strictly factually, there are maybe a dozen “KELOLAND women,” and they all work at 501 South Phillips in Sioux Falls. The woman whose friends gathered to remember her this weekend at McKennan Park was not a “KELOLAND woman.”

For the record, please never brand me as a “man from KELOLAND.”

I grew up in South Dakota. I live and work in South Dakota. I am from South Dakota.

I am not from any private company’s branding of its presumed market territory. Branding any person in this way, especially upon that person’s death, is, to put it mildly, insulting.

KELO-TV appears to have heard that message. As I started typing, someone on South Phillips changed the headline to “…Remember Local Woman”:

KELO-TV, screen cap, 2018.07.30, 07:00 CDT.
KELO-TV, screen cap, 2018.07.30, 07:00 CDT.

The headline on the embedded video retains its corporate branding.

One can do journalism. One can also do marketing. One shouldn’t do both at the same time.


  1. Nick Nemec 2018-07-30

    The entire “Keloland” crap just irritates me. It tells me nothing. I’ve heard reporters and weather people on that station refer to “eastern Keloland”. What the hell is that? Iowa? I would prefer to hear “Sioux Falls woman” or some other descriptor to accurately place the location of the apparently news worthy event.

  2. OldSarg 2018-07-30

    It certainly seems so wrong for KELO to use this tragic event to promote their station while at the same time most of you have used the suicide issues on the other posts to blame Trump and any other slight you perceive against yourselves instead of addressing the real issue of suicide as a mental illness.

  3. mike from iowa 2018-07-30

    They couldn’t bother to remember the exact day she killed herself? Oh boy.

  4. Jenny 2018-07-30

    That is so not true, OS. No one is blaming Trump personally, we are pointing out that it sure seems that bullying and instances of racial discrimination have increased since Trump took office. Trump, as President, could call for peaceful interactions between people of different cultures and ethnicities but he chooses to divide and arouse people’s fears instead.

    As for KELO, that is the only station I have even known that uses that weird KELOLand for their name. No Other station anywhere I’ve ever been feels the need to do that. People should call in and tell them to stop using that to identify people. Who knows, maybe they will issue an apology and quit doing that. These days of internet, a movement can change fast.

  5. South DaCola 2018-07-30

    Cory, like minds think alike. I thought the exact same thing when I saw the story and was going to post a rant also. You beat me to it. Thanks.

  6. leslie 2018-07-30

    KOTA Territory. KELO Land. Old Sarge. Rock band “Suicidal Tendencies.

    All use usurpation, or “Branding”, to amplify and monetize a following, an audience. The shock value of the concept of often violent taking of one’s own life that is not understandable, like death itself, is homogonized for consumption of children online, or “tuned-in” as we used to say about TV consumption. Advertising has always been about manipulation of facts directed to the lowest base of the population. Look how distorted Trump and the GOP message their base. Look how out of control guns, “stand your ground”, open-, concealed-carry, militarization, sniper concepts have become. Butina and Sheriff Clarke casually socializing in Russian boardrooms amid advertising blow-ups of armor piercing bullets fired from hyper-concealed human operators, drones or robots. Capitalism on steroids. Jmo

  7. Jason 2018-07-30

    Jenny wrote:

    “we are pointing out that it sure seems that bullying and instances of racial discrimination have increased since Trump took office.”

    You are finally right about something Jenny. The bullying and racial discrimination against white looking people has increased since Hillary lost the election.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-30

    It’s too bad that when we agree on something, certain people have to get off track and gripe about something else.

  9. Jason 2018-07-30


    How come you never talk about newspaper headlines that are misleading or false.

    Isn’t that worse than branding?

  10. jerry 2018-07-30

    There may be some good news in all of this regarding Comrade trump and the rest of the haters:

    (Reuters) – Paul Manafort on Tuesday will become the first of President Donald Trump’s former aides to go on trial, accused of bank and tax fraud by federal investigators probing Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

    Lock them up! Lock them up so we all can work to prevent suicide with comprehensive healthcare and the doctors needed to reach our troubled areas.

  11. Jenny 2018-07-30

    I will make it easier for us to Jason since you think whites are so discriminated against. If you could, would you Trade places to Be a black person?This question has been asked In sociology classrooms, And not one Caucasian person has ever said yes they would rather Trade places and be a black person. Several of the black students have said yes they would trade places to be able to be a Caucasian.

  12. Jason 2018-07-30

    Don’t change the subject Jenny. Please provide proof discrimination has increased for non – whites since Trump was elected?

  13. Jenny 2018-07-30

    Cory, can you tell Jason and old Sarg to please stay on topic?

  14. grudznick 2018-07-30

    I don’t live in KELOland or KOTA Territory. I live in KEVNville, and BAH on the others that stake claim to my part of South Dakota.

  15. OldSarg 2018-07-30

    Cory, can you tell Jenny to please post rational posts?

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-30

    Sometimes I come home and can’t even recognize the comment thread.

  17. Jenny 2018-07-30

    Sorry Cory, but I found some good evidence of hate discrimination groups increasing since Trump.
    Take a look at the SPLC.

    Thanks Jason and OS, you have validated the discrimination question

  18. Tiffany Campbell 2018-07-30

    Taylor was my friend. She was loved by everyone who ever had the pleasure of meeting her. I agree with Cory’s disappointment with the KELO branding. But I wish this post could have been more about our dear friend and all the good things she did in her short life. She did more in her 25-years to make this world a better place than most adults. The entire progressive community in Sioux Falls is grieving.

    Mike from Iowa wrote, “They couldn’t bother to remember the exact day she killed herself? Oh boy.” Mike,does it really matter? Because we don’t know the exact day she left us.

    Jason wrote, “You are finally right about something Jenny. The bullying and racial discrimination against white looking people has increased since Hillary lost the election.”

    Jason, Taylor HAD been discriminated against in Sioux Falls due to the color of her skin. She left her hometown and moved to Omaha, NE because she wanted to live in a bigger and more diverse community. Even her family members made racist jokes in front of her. Forgive my language, but Jason, you can go f*#k yourself. You have no idea what it’s like to be black and live in a white society.

  19. Debbo 2018-07-30

    Any commenters here on DFP willing to trade with a POC? Anyone? How about Latina child? That’s really popular now.

    Regarding the branding thing– all of it irritates the hell out of me. It’s the connotation of a brand denoting ownership and people having a brand, rather than livestock or other products. I guess it sounds like people are a product and I think, in a 21st century economy, that is often the assumption. Ugh.

    I don’t have a brand, but i do have a signature I use for my paintings and a maker’s mark on the jewelry I create.

  20. grudgenutz 2018-07-30

    Cory, can you tell OldSarg not to post anything?

  21. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-07-30

    Thank you, Tiffany, for bringing us back to what should have been KELO’s sole focus. I yield the floor to those like Tiffany who can speak knowledgeably of friendship, struggles, and achievements.

  22. Tiffany Campbell 2018-07-30

    Thank you, Cory. Taylor was amazing. She brightened every room she entered. Sadly none of us could save her, no matter how hard we tried. Unfortunately depression ultimately won, and the world lost a beautiful woman. She did leave this world a more beautiful place than the one she entered.

  23. leslie 2018-07-30

    Deepest sympathies to her family and friends.

  24. Jason 2018-07-31


    News broke Monday that anti-white hate crimes grew faster than any other racial hate crime category in America in 2016. According to statistics released Monday, there was a 19.34 percent increase in anti-white hate crime attacks from 2015 to 2016.

    A new FBI report indicates that hate crimes committed against white Americans are the fastest growing racial hate crimes in the United States.

    I don’t come on here to lie like some people.

    I back up what I say.

  25. Alex 2018-07-31

    Speaking of lies Jason. Don’t post garbage from Daily Caller.

    Controversies Edit

    Climate change denial Edit
    The Daily Caller has published a number of articles that dispute the scientific consensus on climate change.[19] In 2017, The Daily Caller published a story claiming that a “peer-reviewed study” by “two scientists and a veteran statistician” found that global warming had been fabricated by climate scientists.[20][21] The alleged “study” was a PDF file on a WordPress blog, and was not peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal.[20] That same year, The Daily Caller uncritically published a bogus Daily Mail story which claimed that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) manipulated data to make climate change appear worse; at the same time, legitimate news outlets debunked the Daily Mail story.[22][23][24] That same year, The Daily Caller published a story claiming that a study found no evidence of accelerating temperatures over a 23-year period, which climate scientists described as a misleading story.[19] In 2016, The Daily Caller published a story claiming that climate scientist Michael Mann (director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University) had asserted that data was unnecessary to measure climate change; Mann described the story as “egregiously false”.[25] In 2015, The Daily Caller wrote that NOAA was “fiddle[d]” with data when the agency published a report concluding that there was no global warming hiatus.[26][27]

    False prostitution allegations Edit
    In March 2013 The Daily Caller posted interviews with two women claiming that New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez had paid them for sex while he was a guest of a campaign donor.[28] The allegation came five days before the 2012 New Jersey senate election. News organizations such as ABC News, which had also interviewed the women, the New York Times, and the New York Post declined to publish the allegations, viewing them as unsubstantiated and lacking credibility.[29][30][31] Subsequently, one of the women who accused Menendez stated that she had been paid to falsely implicate the senator and had never met him.[29][32] Menendez’s office described the allegations as “manufactured” by a right-wing blog as a politically motivated smear.[33]

    A few weeks later, police in the Dominican Republic announced that three women had claimed they were paid $300–425 each to lie about having had sex with Menendez.[34] Dominican law enforcement also alleged that the women had been paid to lie about Menendez by an individual claiming to work for The Daily Caller. The Daily Caller denied this allegation, stating: “At no point did any money change hands between The Daily Caller and any sources or individuals connected with this investigation”.[35] Describing what it saw as the unraveling of The Daily Caller’s “scoop”, the Poynter Institute wrote: The Daily Caller stands by its reports, though apparently doesn’t feel the need to prove its allegations right”.[36]

    Fox News controversy Edit
    In March 2015 The Daily Caller columnist Mickey Kaus quit after editor Tucker Carlson refused to run a column critical of Fox News coverage of the immigration policy debate.[37] Carlson, who also works for Fox, reportedly did not want The Daily Caller publishing criticism of a firm that employed him.[38] Journalist Neil Munro quit two weeks later.[39]

    2016 presidential election Edit
    According to a study by Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, The Daily Caller was among the most popular sites on the right during the 2016 presidential election. The study also found that The Daily Caller provided “amplification and legitimation” for “the most extreme conspiracy sites”, such as Truthfeed, Infowars, Gateway Pundit and Conservative Treehouse during the 2016 presidential election.[40][41][42] The Daily Caller also “employed anti-immigrant narratives that echoed sentiments from the alt-right and white nationalists but without the explicitly racist and pro-segregation language.”[41] The Daily Caller also played a significant role in creating and disseminating stories that had little purchase outside the right-wing media ecosystem but that stoked the belief among core Trump followers that what Clinton did was not merely questionable but criminal and treasonous. In a campaign that expressed deep anti-Muslim sentiment, a repeated theme was that Hillary Clinton was seriously in hock to Muslim nations.[41] In one of its most frequently shared stories, The Daily Caller falsely asserted that Morocco’s King Mohammed VI flew Bill Clinton on a private jet, and that this had been omitted from the Clinton Foundation’s tax disclosures.[41] The Daily Caller also made the “utterly unsubstantiated and unsourced claim” that Hillary Clinton got Environmental Protection Agency “head Lisa Jackson to try to shut down Mosaic Fertilizer, described as America’s largest phosphate mining company, in exchange for a $15 million donation to the Clinton Foundation from King Mohammed VI of Morocco, ostensibly to benefit Morocco’s state-owned phosphate company.”[41]

    Encouragement of violence against protesters Edit
    In January 2017, The Daily Caller posted a video which encouraged violence against protesters.[43][44][45][46] The video in question showed a car plowing through protesters, with the headline “Here’s A Reel Of Cars Plowing Through Protesters Trying To Block The Road” and set to a cover of Ludacris’ “Move Bitch.”[43] The video drew attention in August 2017 when a white supremacist plowed his car through a group of counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.[43] After the video attracted attention, The Daily Caller deleted it from its website.[43][46]

    The Southern Poverty Law Center subsequently criticized The Daily Caller, saying that it had a “white nationalist problem”.[47] SPLC also said that two other contributors to The Daily Caller had ties to white nationalist groups.[47] It later retracted its claim that Richard Pollock, a devout Jew, was a white nationalist, saying “Pollock was initially included in this story” but “there is no evidence to suggest Mr. Pollock is otherwise a white nationalist.”[47]

    Ties to alleged white nationalist members Edit
    According to Salon, Scott Greer, deputy editor of The Daily Caller, had ties to members of the white nationalist movement, including friendships with Devin Saucier, assistant to Jared Taylor of American Renaissance, and with anti-immigrant activist Marcus Epstein, who pled guilty to assaulting an African American woman two years prior.[48] Greer has later deleted parts of his Facebook page, but his Twitter account shows he follows white nationalists, and he is sometimes photographed with white nationalists like Tim Dionisopoulos and Richard Spencer, and appears wearing clothes belonging to the group Youth for Western Civilization.[48]

    The Daily Caller has also posted articles by Jason Kessler,[49] a white supremacist who organized a rally of hundreds of white nationalists in Charlottesville.[50][51] Before Kessler posted his article, it was known that he had spoken at white supremacist gatherings.[52] After Kessler received attention for his organizing of the Charlottesville white supremacist rally, the Daily Caller removed his articles from its website,[53] but The Daily Caller executive editor defended Kessler’s articles.[54]

    The website has also published pieces by Peter Brimelow, founder of the white supremacist website VDARE.[48]

    Heckling of Obama Edit
    In 2012, Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro heckled Barack Obama during one of the President’s press conferences. Munro interrupted Obama while he was giving remarks. For a reporter to interrupt remarks by the president was considered startling and a breach of etiquette. Editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson defended Munro’s actions, saying “As a general matter, reporters are there to ask [questions]” and that he was “proud” of Munro. Munro later said that he intended to ask questions after the president had made his remarks but that he misjudged when the president was closing his remarks.[55][56][57][58]

    Stefan Halper Edit
    The Daily Caller was the first news outlet to report on Stefan Halper, a confidential FBI source, and his interactions with Trump campaign advisors Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. Other news outlets confirmed Halper’s identity but did not report his identity because US intelligence officials warned that it would endanger him and his contacts.[59][60][61]

    Allegation of non-profit abuse Edit
    According to Callum Borchers of the Washington Post, the Daily Caller has “a peculiar business structure that enables it to increase revenue while reducing its tax obligation.”[62] The organization, a for-profit company, does this by relying on its charity arm, the Daily Caller News Foundation, to create the majority of its news content.[63]

    According to Lisa Graves, a deputy assistant attorney general in the Clinton administration, the situation is “a huge rip-off for taxpayers if the Daily Caller News Foundation is receiving revenue that it doesn’t pay taxes on, to produce stories that are used by the for-profit enterprise, which then makes money on the stories through ads.”[64]

    Imran Awan Edit
    The Daily Caller kept conspiracy theories surrounding Imran Awan alive with aggressive coverage.[65][66] Imran Awan was an IT worker for Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Daily Caller sought to tie Awan to a wide range of alleged criminal activity, including unauthorized access to government servers.[67] The reporter behind the aggressive coverage of Awan told Fox News that the affair was “straight out of James Bond.”[67] An 18-month investigation by federal prosecutors found no evidence of wrong-doing in Awan’s work in the House and no support for the conspiracy theories about Awan. In the announcement of the conclusion of the investigation, investigators rebuked a litany of right-wing conspiracy theories about Awan.[65][66]

  26. mike from iowa 2018-07-31

    Daily Caller-Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

    Excuse me, Jason, you were serious? Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah!

  27. Porter Lansing 2018-08-01

    On South Dakota suicide numbers. Yankee ingenuity is a common motto up in New England and a source of pride and dedication. (SoDak was given an F grade in ingenuity, btw.) The state motto could easily be “Dakota Contrary, Damn It!” Life has less to offer when surrounded by consistent Conservative negativity and a refusal to invest even a few dollars to improve things for all. Negativity leads to depression. Optimism leads to hope.

  28. Shirley Dannen 2019-09-17

    Why aren’t news about the widespread flooding and pictures of all the small towns , etc. under water not on national news? Unbelievable!! Absolutely devastating to many, many of the residents! I live in Arizona and would have no idea if relatives in SD didn’t send pictures. How about some news about disasters within our own country?

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