Friday, November 14, 2008

Jeff Pelline responds to Messenger story

Updated Nov 17; Nuke Brunswick responds in comments

Jeff Pelline's response, which I'd requested earlier today regarding the Mountain Messenger story:
I’m flattered this paper choose to write about me, but the fact that this paper wouldn’t contact me for a story about me says everything I need to know about The Mountain Messenger and this report’s credibility.
[Reporter's response here in comments - Ed.]
If I were going to write a story about the Editor of The Mountain Messenger, I would contact him or her directly. I received no messages from the paper: the first I heard of it was from blogger Anna Haynes. Also, who is reporter “Nuke Brunswick?” The name doesn’t appear on the list of staff members. When our reporter writes a story, we put our real names and contact information at the end of the story.

I also can state that the story is full of inaccuracies. If someone had called, I would have pointed out:

Here’s the story about the Fire Safe Council that ran on The Union’s Web site about an hour after our meeting with them.

The article ran in the paper the next day as well — on the front page. So we didn’t “refuse to publish anything.” We published two stories: one on the Web and one in print.

The reason we had to abruptly end the Fire Safe Council meeting was to post the story on our Web site to match the press release that had been handed to our news competitors prior to our meeting. We were the first to inquire about this story, based on a tip we got, but the last to get the information. We compete in real time with a radio station, not on daily print newspaper cycle. Since this incident, we have run other stories about the Fire Safe Council’s efforts.

I also worry about being treated fairly by some local groups whose board members also happen to be owners of the competing radio station or other news outlets — something we encounter from time to time. For example, the Fire Safe Council also has board members who are owners of our competitors. I was assured this relationship — and potential conflict of interest — has no bearing on the timing of how news gets disseminated.

•As for the event at Miners Foundry, it was pitched as a communitywide, all inclusive media event. The Union, however, wasn’t invited. When we learned this, we met with the Miners Foundry and said we’d like to join as sponsors. They were happy to have us. We volunteered to help set up audio and video equipment, and donate $200 for food. We decided to back out of the event a day later after reading on the Democratic Party Web site that people of “like minds” were being invited to this so-called nonpartisan event. As it turned out, the GOP was holding an election party at Tailgaters. We wouldn’t sponsor that event either, for the same reasons. The “code of ethics” in our newsroom states we cannot sponsor partisan political events. I thought most news organizations, including the ones here, had such a policy.

As for the coverage of the Miners Foundry event (as distinct to sponsorship), we published a story in the paper promoting the party, and we published a large photo of the Miners Foundry party on the front page of the paper the day after the election showing the party-goers. I venture to say we gave it more publicity than anybody. We also received a thank you note from the Miners Foundry for covering the event. They also apologized for the misunderstanding. We also discussed some future coverage of Miners Foundry events. You’ll be reading plenty of news about the Miners Foundry, the Fire Safe Council and other groups in the future.

I hope this helps clarify matters. I suppose we’re obliged to show the article to a lawyer for a second opinion, but for now, we’ll just drop the matter. I’m surprised The Mountain Messenger would run an article like this.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I also worry about being treated fairly by some local groups whose board members also happen to be owners of the competing radio station or other news outlets — something we encounter from time to time."

I'm sorry. The Union is concerned about being treated FAIRLY? Gosh. Is there a double standard here?
They want to be treated fairly but as far as treating the rest of the community fairly--it's no can do?
How many people have been smeared or personally attacked in The Union? How many issues distorted? How about their open support for developers and the mine when they are supposed to be a newspaper and REPORT on these things, not advocate. The Union as an activist group? Treated FAIRLY? Oh mercy me. Isn't this too ironic!!

Anna Haynes said...

> Treated FAIRLY?

All the same, it's basic journalism ethics (and cheap error-prevention insurance) to contact the subject of a story for comment, before you publish it.

I'm not sure why this wasn't done here.

Anonymous said...

From Jeff Pelline:

Anna,
Just to let you know, this article did appear on Yubanet on Nov. 15:
http://yubanet.com/regional/Mountain-Messenger-NevadaCo-Wrestles-With-Media-Monopoly.php

But again, there was no attempt made to get the paper's side or my side of the story — or even link to my response on your Web site before it was republished. (So it just gets forwarded along in cyberspace with all the innacuracies and innuendos, masquerading as "news.") I have posted comments on Yubanet before that were later deleted as I've mentioned to you before (just for expressing an unpopular opinion as I told you), so why bother doing it again. It appears this blog is the only one that will tell both sides of this "story."
Thanks for your professionalism. I'll refer people to your Web site if anyone inquires.

Anna Haynes said...

Thanks Jeff for the heads-up, re the MM article on Yubanet.

re your comment
> "I have posted comments on Yubanet before that were later deleted ..for expressing an unpopular opinion...why bother doing it again" -

A suggestion/request:
It'd help readers to evaluate this (your judgment, and Yubanet's) if they could see the comments that got deleted - hence the Comment purgatory, whose feed is in the far right column of Nevada County Voices. I hope you'll try commenting on Yubanet again, and if your comment gets deleted, that you'll repost it over in the "Yubanet" section of the Purgatory.
(FYI, Yubanet *will* delete your comment if you didn't put your first & last name in the Author field; be forewarned)

It feels like there's an awful lot of he-said-she-said conflict in this county - readers should be able to see the evidence to judge for themselves.

Anonymous said...

From Jeff Pelline:

Anna,
Tks. When somebody writes an article about you under an assumed name and doesn't give you a chance to respond, and then publishes your article — twice — it's not even "he said, she said." it's inflammatory at best and libelous at worst. This is not even labeled as a column, and it has several patently false statements that I addressed. Just an FYI: The link you posted at the bottom of the Yubanet story doesn't seem to work, though. But thanks for trying.
BTW, the comment I posted on Yubanet previously that was axed referred to an opinion story by Jim Hurley criticizing the paper. I said it was OK to criticize, but Jim should have disclosed that he made a contribution to the candidate's campaign whom he was writing about (and was the subject of the article). So you'd want to disclose that. I typed both the first and last name. Also, Aaron Klein stopped by the office this week. I mentioned this incident after he brought up a frustration: he told me he submitted press releases to Yubanet after he won the Sierra College race, just as his opponent did after he lost, but they never showed up. For me, this is a just a nonpartisan discussion about journalism — not politics. Surely, you should at least get comment from both sides.

Anna Haynes said...

Jeff, just to get things rolling over there, I pasted what you just said (in prev. comment) about your "deleted comments at Yubanet" over on the "Yubanet" section of the Comment Purgatory.
(it'd be better to have the comment's exact text though, ideally also with the URL of the story you were commenting on.)

Anonymous said...

From Jeff Pelline:
Here's the URL of the opinion story where my comments disappeared:
ttp://yubanet.com/regional/Regional-Op-Ed-Jim-Hurley-Links-and-Agendas-In-Current-Political-Discourse.php

I don't have the exact working (because I never thought it would disappear), but my point was essentially what I told you.

Nuke Brunswick said...

Nuke Brunswick responds:

Perhaps Mr. Pelline has forgotten that he asked me not to contact him ever again:

"As my mother would say, 'You ain't got no couth.'
Don't email me any more. You're a real downer.
"
-JP

Anonymous said...

From Jeff Pelline:
Huh? The note reads "don't email me anymore," not don't phone me or have a face-to-face conversation about fact checking when you're going to write an inaccurate hatchet piece about me and our paper, hiding behind "nuke brunswick." It also doesn't include any context of a previous string of abusive, insulting comments from you.
My column about couth in Nevada City is as relevant now as before:
http://www.theunion.com/article/20070908/OPINION/109080167&parentprofile=search

Anna Haynes said...

Expanding on my "...it's basic journalism ethics...to contact the subject of a story for comment, before you publish it" - while this would always be best, I know I've slipped up plenty (particularly early in my blogging 'career'...) & there are, obviously, shades of gray. There are definitely times/circumstances when I still wouldn't bother - e.g. if it's a blogpost reporting that Joe Blow refused to respond by email, and someone (with Joe's implicit consent) previously slammed me for trying to reach Joe by phone, I probably wouldn't phone Joe to alert him to the post.

Anna Haynes said...

Slipped up, but never been criticized for it by the subject, as far as I know&recall.

Grace Karpa said...

I'm curious: What are the tests for libelous and inflammatory comments on blogs?


Grace Karpa

Anna Haynes said...

Believe me Grace, I've been wondering the same thing lately.
:-}

I sent an email to Matt Pawa's assistant, but didn't get a reply; maybe it's time to try again.