Award-winning photojournalist Ben Garvin has said he was fired by KARE 11 over Christmas, after he left the keys in a company car overnight and it was stolen.
The former Minnesota SPJ (Society of Professional Journalists) Journalist of the Year revealed his departure from KARE in posts on his social media pages Tuesday, saying he had been informed he was being let go "a couple weeks ago."
Garvin, who has been with the Twin Cities' NBC affiliate for five years, said it came after a company car was stolen while under his care.
"Like most parents, I’ve been working to juggle my kids’ distance learning and trying to work from home, editing deadline stories for KARE11 for the last 9 months. As part of that I was asked to keep a company car at my home in south Minneapolis. And, in a scatterbrained moment a few weeks ago, I left the vehicle unlocked overnight, likely with the keys in the trunk. Luckily, there was no camera gear inside besides some lights and tripods.
"The car was stolen and I was fired the next day. A shock! And no doubt, a bummer way to end my five years at KARE11 (the car has since been recovered). And obviously not the best time to lose a job, in a pandemic and right before Christmas and all."
Garvin said he had previously been warned twice at work: one for leaving his gear in the newsroom rather than a locker, and the other for a social media post in which he thanked a politician, he told BMTN.
When asked for more details about Garvin's departure, Stacey Nogy, KARE's recently-appointed news director, told BMTN: "I’m sorry, but we don’t comment on personnel issues."
The incident came in a year in which there has been a dramatic increase in vehicle thefts in the Twin Cities, with Minneapolis reporting an almost 500% increase in carjackings.
In May, KARE 11 fired meteorologist Sven Sundgaard after what it described as "continued violations" of "news ethics" that was believed to have been related to political posts he had made on his social media accounts. (Disclosure: Sven Sundgaard is now a meteorologist for Bring Me The News.)
Garvin has said he will now be embarking on a career as a freelance journalist, and suggests he could look for some longer-form work having been involved in the documentary Love Them First with KARE 11 colleague Lindsey Seavert.
Garvin said he had a difficult conversation with his family after being informed of his firing.
"A couple days after I was let go, we had a family meeting and I told the kids. It was hard and sad and embarrassing — I'm the fellow who's supposed to have everything figured out, to be the provider. Afterwards, our 10-year-old daughter Netta looked at me with absolute seriousness and asked, 'Papa? Does this mean when we have our lunch break during school you can play with us?' Oh! 'Yes, Netta, it does.'"
He also praised some of his colleagues for reaching out after news of his departure broke, with Jana Shortal sending him a "generous life raft donation," while Seavert sent over a meal and wine.
"I am grateful for my time at KARE11 and even more so to all the people who shared their stories with me," he told BMTN. "It’s been an honor to be let in and trusted over and over, and I’ve done what I can to capture the world as it is and show what's true. My work has focused especially on marginalized communities that need a voice, and that’s what I hope to make the center of the rest of my career. Journalists hold power to make a difference and I intend to."