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Thursday, July 03, 2008

one step forward, one step back

I was very gratified with the way both The Albuquerque Journal and Santa Fe New Mexican cited us when they followed reporter Dave Maass' story on Jerome Block Junior. They clearly learned of the story from our reporting, followed it as was appropriate, but also cited us as the originating source. And while some castigated the dailies for waiting until the end of the story to mention us (thank you), I was satisfied: I've been harping on this issue for years as the ethical way for journalists to cite one another's work, have spoken with Poynter and other journalism experts on the topic and, as many news readers know, it's standard practice for many news outlets, including The New York Times and the Washington Post.
So how disheartening to see Phaedra Haywood's story today on Santa Fe County's dismissal of former county commission candidate Stephen Wust.
It is an almost-verbatim repeat of SFR reporter Mark Sanders' story that we published yesterday. With no acknowledgement whatsoever. For the record, not only do I think it's wrong for papers to rip off one another's stories with no acknowledgement, I think it does a great disservice to readers, who deserve as much transparency in their journalism as possible. I also think it's a little sad when a paper with who knows how many more reporters than we have uses our paper to find stories and then can't do the courtesy of acknowledging that we got there first. Especially when, as I suspect, they wouldn't have known about the story otherwise. I suppose it's possible Haywood was already working on this, but I find it odd that the story is almost identical.
I'm not sure if Journal North has anything or not. I haven't looked at the paper edition yet, and its new Web site for the north isn't as user-friendly as it was. I'm actually sad about the Journal's new Web site; the previous incarnation worked a lot better.
Oh, an interesting followup from The New Mexico Independent on the Block story: Ben Ray Junior won't say if he supports Block as his replacement in PRC District 3. The Independent also cites Dave's story yesterday on the county's attempts to block online access to jail records. The county does not seem to be very open government focused these days. County PIO Stephen Ulibarri was of no help to Dave Maass in talking directly to jail administrators; he was excessively unhelpful to Mark in reporting on his Wust story and tried to bullshit me into thinking we couldn't quote from the county manager's article cited in our article by telling me it was copyrighted. I don't know if Ulibarri, as PIO, actually doesn't understand how Fair Use works or if he was just hoping I didn't, but either way, a PIO who tries to intimidate the media out of providing the public access to information is not my idea of good open government. And I'm kind of thinking this isn't the last you'll be hearing of that.
In fact, I'm going on the radio shortly. Maybe I'll talk about it some more there.