There’s yer problem…
… in the ongoing saga of local media credibility, we find the nugget:
… how readers expect credibility in their local papers (not merely gossip and innuendo, and certainly not the opinion of friends thinly disguised as front-page news)…
Yes, Brian Saunderson is a friend of mine, and that’s not something I’ve ever made a secret of; I’ve even made a point of declaring that particular ‘conflict of interest’ on my weekly radio appearance on 97.7, and Rogers TV, and anyone with access to Google can easily look up the connection. But the story with BTC is also one that would have been written, regardless of whom was the spokesperson – and before it was published, I ran it past my superiors to ensure that the story was fair and balanced.
And if it had been about friendship, would I have published Chrissy Miskell’s letter to the editor, which was very critical of BTC?
And yeah, it’s easy to see how some people could feel misled about the rec facility completion dates, given that through the fall, the public was told there would be swimming in January at Centennial Pool — even though the town had a contract with the builder for a June completion, regardless of the add-ons of a therapeutic pool and upgrades to the tub to accommodate the Clippers.
Guess what – that’s a story, and one I’m obligated to cover as the editor of the local community paper. And in spite of what Nobody may like to think (even after I’ve proven him — or her — wrong, repeatedly), I have never toed the line from town hall.
I guess in Councillor Chadwick’s opinion, I shouldn’t have any friends – or, at least, friends critical of council decision-making. No matter the optics of sitting down and having a beer with Dale West, who has been a friend for about 20 years, and generally puts up with my barbs on his decision-making abilities with good-natured bemusement.
It’s a good thing Councillor Chadwick can’t be considered a friend, otherwise I should probably answer for writing this story plugging his media relations book.
Guess what – in a super small newsroom such as ours, we’re always going to run into these conflicts. I can honestly say, however, that I’ve tried my utmost not to allow those relationships to colour my reporting. I’ve had absolutely antagonistic relationships with certain people over the years (a former mayor, for instance), and have gone out of my way to ensure I provided those individuals with fair and balanced news coverage (writing an opinion is a completely different animal…)
Councillor Chadwick has also known me for 20 years. It’s nice to finally know what little regard he had for my integrity and ‘credibility’…