An article appeared in a another area newspaper recently that I’d like to comment on. I won’t name the newspaper or the person who wrote the article, because I don’t want to give them any unnecessary attention. I do however, wish to speak my mind on the situation.
The article was an unabashed, libelous attack on me and on the Times, and didn’t even prove anything. I was amazed it was placed on the front page.
What bothered me was not that it attacked me. I have pretty thick skin...and I’ve been doing this a long time. I followed the rules, I reported the truth, and I’ve now had a little mud thrown in my general direction because of it. I can handle that.
What bothered me was the lack of journalistic ethics it displayed.
You see, I was quoted in the article. I didn’t mind being quoted, however, the person who wrote the piece went about it in a backhanded manner.
It happened like this: I received a couple of e-mails, asking me about an article I wrote, and I responded. Those responses were quoted in the aforementioned article in the other newspaper. The author may not have intended to write an article at the time of the e-mails, but the ethical thing to do once that decision was made would have been to contact me and ask if I minded being quoted. That’s how it should have been handled. It’s Journalism 101 to say to someone, “Is this on the record?” or “Can I quote you on that?”
Would I have allowed myself to be quoted? Certainly. I would have been glad to give my permission.
One might argue that the e-mails I received and my responses were public domain. Maybe. But the e-mails were between two editors; two journalists working in the same community, who should be supporting each other on behalf of making Gadsden County a better place.
Sling mud at me, but not at my paper. It bothered me that the Times was attacked. I am proud of this newspaper and the contributions I’ve made. I’m proud of our staff. I’m proud of the fact that we print the news, all of it, factual and yes, at times, controversial, no matter what. And we keep the opinion off the front page.
I do want to thank the other publication, however, for the free advertising. We’ve even garnered some new readers out of it.
So rest assured, folks, we’ll keep reporting the facts, even when they smart a little...or a lot.
That’s what a newspaper is supposed to do.