Monday, August 17, 2009

Advance partners with Microsoft for ads

Thanks to a "Boothie" I received this link in my e-mail box today. What do you all think?

More on this over on Inside Out which also has more links about the relationship.

So maybe I do get this linking thing, except that I'm not in a news business.


Anonymous said...


This probably doesn't go here, but I wanted to get your opinion on an issue in our community, and I don't know where to put it.

Our community is going through a lot of turmoil right now, with recalls, contentious township meetings, the whole she-bang.

We received a brand spanking new reporter for our community. In his first ventures out, he somehow hooked up with let's just say "one side" of this debate within the community. I believe he was given a name as a possible source for quotes -- probably to start him off -- and he has never gotten past that source. These sources often give him information which is printed without fact checking.

A few weeks ago, our printed community weekly featured a prominent story about how the pending recall had failed. Except, it hadn't, the gatherers did succeed in getting the number of signatures. Because the deadline is now 6 days? before publish, he made "an assumption"? It seems to me it would be wise to say "likely" or "possibly". In any case, in like fashion, the story appeared on the web product.

The next day, after the mistake was realized, the story was simply vanished from Mlive. There has not been a retraction, nor an admission of error. He contacted one of the recall organizers to apologize, and promised to more thoroughly cover both sides, and gathered several phone numbers for quotes. None of them were contacted.

To add insult to injury, an editor wrote an op-ed based on this reporter's writings, which duplicated many of the factual errors. Simple stuff too, like how many were laid off, etc. Many in the community expressed their disappointment with the quality of the reporting, and asked for more oversight, or even better, a more seasoned reporter, particularly with the most explosive meeting of the year coming up (which was last Thursday).

The reporter was there. In what I thought was rather poor taste, he sat with several of his regular contributors. But here's the interesting part... no story. There have been stories on business expansions in the area, but nothing on our issues.

Now we feel we are either being punished for complaining about our coverage, or we are simply "too much trouble" to cover.

So, a few thoughts. I find it interesting, and I wonder if it's ethical to simply remove material from the internet, and not update or correct it. Does this give newspapers an opportunity to dodge the retraction? When are retractions in order?

If you were, say, the subject of a report that you felt was unfair or inaccurate, what are your options? I thought some papers had ombudspersons to make sure the reporting is accurate.

I wouldn't mind if they hadn't covered it all, but then to do so inaccurately and just leave it...

Is it me?

Jim of L-Town said...

Dear Anonymous:

You have raised some interesting issues, which I will respond to at length this evening (I've got a busy day). So tonight I am going to discuss your post at length then.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous 22:18,

I'd recommend writing a letter to the editor to give your side of the story, although you'd have to be prepared to back up your facts and realize the paper won't print any cheap shots against an individual reporter. Even so, you'd be surprised the room you have to make your points and your side.

Anonymous said...

But see, facts aren't "a side of the story". I shouldn't have to write a letter to correct a reporter's ineptitude. And obviously, the paper knows it is wrong, or why else would it simply nuke stories?

I spoke to the editor who was the author of the op ed. He told me that he did indeed write the piece on the sole basis of the reporter's work -- no independent verification, and when I spoke of the incorrect story, he promised he would look into the issue. I have not heard back. I don't think he's from this area, nor particularly cares about our issues. For him, it seems to be another personnel headache. Or at least, just another headache.

Other residents contacted the paper and complained about our lack of coverage and the misinformation. They were given similar promises of follow up, but none.

There is more to the story, but it is hard to tell without revealing exact identities, but, for example, many in the community believe, whether true or not (and I don't know myself), that one of the chief editors is connected to this community -- the source of many of these quotes, ironically. Said editor will neither confirm nor deny the relationship. I'm inclined to imagine that the new reporter showed up for work, had no contacts in the community, and was directed to family members/friends for information on the community. It seems reasonable, except when you realize you've been fed misinformation. It reminds me of reporters who are "used" by their source, rather than using a source.

Again, whether it has any bearing or not, what are we to believe?

I'm most troubled by the lack of retraction and the disappearance of a story.

Check out the Time story about what happens to small communities when they lose their local paper. That's what it feels like -- people are uninformed, confused, and there is no source to clarify.

I just want to understand what a reporter or paper owes a community, when it should apologize or correct itself, and how.

I don't believe this is unprecedented, and I don't believe I should beg the paper to correct itself... and that supposes that if I wrote a letter to the editor, someone would care, or care to print it.

Anonymous said...

Bad news. A bad reporter won't fix his or her mistakes. There was a reporter at The Journal who wouldn't put in a correction unless he heard from three people that he made an error. He went on to greatness as a political consultant in Detroit. you have to stay on the issue, calling about when the correction will go in. Don't fade. Take it up a level. Or keep going back to the top level.

Anonymous said...


Here's a thought: call the editor. Nowhere in your rant did you say you attempted to contact anyone other than the reporter.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, the editor (or whatever they're calling her these days) at the BCT is having such a tough time finding anyone to work there, she's having to tuck her tail between her legs and ask editors they canned to come back. Offers have been made to the former sports editor, who was treated abominably, and a former assistant metro editor, who quit because the pay they offered him to stay wouldn't keep a rat. Actually, the arrogance is so far out of control, I'm sure she thought they'd jump twice at the chance.

Bless their hearts, they both had already found other jobs outside journalism, and they told her to stick it! Good for you, guys, and best of luck in your new careers!

The question remains, where do these back-stabbers get the gall to think anyone they screwed over just a couple of months ago would be clamoring to come back for more? Is this a teachable moment?

Anonymous said...

Regarding the "reporter" at The Journal who wouldn't put in a correction unless he heard from three people that he made an error, oh how one longs for the good ol' days at the FJ when we thought AA was a big issue jeopardizing the paper's vision and future. Those were heady days when reporters' skills mattered -- that is, until the next unannounced FJ management spot or Oakland U. journalism teaching gig were filled by the newly oppressed cum priviledged few on the Mother Booth fast track. Yep, just when we thought it was safe to go back in the water, the FJ went dry -- apologies for the mixed metaphors.

Anonymous said...

If I wasn't clear in my note, I did indeed talk to the editor. I was promised this wouldn't fall
"into the black hole", that he would check this out and get back to me. I don't think he's from Flint, if memory serves he was in Bay City.

Between several community members, this has been taken to the reporter, the community news editor and the Flint Journal editor... basically everyone short of Hiner. Maybe I should go on, but then it seems like you are, oh, I don't know, "bent on revenge".