February 15, 2008

Suburban Journal leaders meet with Wake Up Call

Regular readers of this blog are aware of the problems with the Suburban Journal's coverage of St. Charles County. I have pointed out in detail the Journal's "mistakes" in regard to the Koch Road scandal, which is a result of the paper protecting one of its biggest advertisers (McBride & Sons) in my opinion. Elizabeth Perry has been covering the story for the Journal, therefore, her reporting has been the focal point of much of my criticism. After Ms. Perry mislead the Journal's readers again this week about the Koch Road story she responded to an email I sent her by asking that I not contact her anymore. To be quite honest, I was surprised by how long it took her to get to that point.

Another reporter for the Journal, Steve Pokin, had manufactured a quote he attributed to me in a story he wrote a couple of years ago. After several emails in which I asked Pokin to provide me the source of the quote, Pokin finally responded by saying it was in an email I had sent him. Pokin was unable to produce the email and when I forwarded him copies of all of our emails Pokin simply quit responding to me. Two years later and Pokin still hasn't admitted his mistake or responded to me and I imagine he advised Perry long ago to follow his cowardly ways.
When Pokin quit talking to me he claimed he did so at the request of his editor, however, his editor also quit responding to my requests that the Journal correct Pokin's false report. The Journal is taking a different approach this time as evidenced by the following email I received from Dave Bundy;
  • I'm the editorial director for the Suburban Journals. I oversee the news operations for all 31 of our publications across the Greater St. Louis area. I understand that you have not been happy with the way Elizabeth Perry and Erin Schultz have addressed your complaints regarding Koch Road and related issues. Suburban Journals Publisher Bob Williams and I have reviewed your blog entries, so we have some familiarity with your situation. But it would benefit us if you would sit down with Bob, Erin and me to see if there's more we can or should be doing. Would you be available to meet for about at hour at 4 p.m. on Thursday at our office in St. Peters? I'm not certain we can make you entirely happy, but I'd like to make certain you feel you've been listened to.

So at 4:00 PM yesterday I went to the Journal's office in St. Peters. The meeting lasted about 40 minutes, with about half of that time wasted on Bob Williams, the publisher, and Erin Schultz (an editor) asking me to clarify my issues with the Journal's coverage on Koch Road, something I have done to the point where there can be no legitimate failure to understand. Of course, these are not "my issues" anyway and the Journal's repeated "mistakes" in its reporting are issues which call into question the credibility of everything the paper is reporting. When I asked the simple question as to why the Journal had not corrected its mistakes or reported the full story, Mr. Williams simply ignored the question and responded by telling me that I was wrong in my opinion regarding the influence big advertisers have over the Journal's coverage. And so it went for 40 minutes.

While I'd like to think the Journal met with me because it really wants to report the news fairly and accurately, I suspect something else is at play here. My guess is that the Journal has an unhappy reporter in Perry who is tired of taking the heat for the paper's refusal to truthfully report the news about Koch Road. The meeting yesterday was an attempt to appease me while making Perry think the Journal is doing something. From the questions I was asked about the time tables involved in the various lawsuits filed over Koch Road, I think the Journal was trying to figure out how much time it has before it will have to report on this story again. And when the Journal does report on Koch Road my bet is that it will simply avoid any aspect of the story which brings into question the illegal destruction of the road.

I could be wrong about why the Journal wanted to meet with me and I hope I am. However, the Journal didn't need to meet with me if all it wanted to do was report the news truthfully. Correcting past mistakes and reporting the news truthfully in the future would do a lot more than meeting with one vocal critic.


Anonymous said...

Why do they feel they have to make anyone “feel happy.” Are they selling cars or back ache medicine? It looks to me like they’re trying to convince themselves and build a “case” at the same time. Dwelling on the “happiness” terminology makes me think they are more out of the idea business and into the “happy commodity” business! They seem to be dealing with you the way a parent would deal with an errant urchin. Intellectually immature, to be kind in my phraseology! Media managers are that way, though. They have a tendency to believe they can make anyone awe struck by “mingling with the Gods” of the media! How arrogant can they be! (A lot more, I would guess!)
Chuck MacNab

Anonymous said...

This is an awesome article...Elizabeth Perry apparently has a problem with getting her facts straight. I think you are right in that the Journal would prove they are concerned if they would just print a correction - but at least they met with you, the mayor still hasn't! LOL

Anonymous said...

At least they met with you...the Mayor still hasn't! LOL

Jim Fidel, St. Peters said...

I love that all of you "anonymous" speakers can stay anonymous while the newspaper at least prints publicly.

Robert Marley said...

Hey Jim,

To post a comment I have to
a) check anonymous
b) create a user name and password that I will forget because I have created several hundred already.

The reason why the anonymous posters/bloggers are setting the standard is because as the publicly printed newspaper continues to violate each sentence mentioned below they loose credibility.

"I know that my retirement will make no difference in its cardinal principles, that it will always fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption, always fight demagogues of all parties, never belong to any party, always oppose privileged classes and public plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor, always remain devoted to the public welfare, never be satisfied with merely printing news, always be drastically independent, never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty."

-- statement by Joseph Pulitzer, April 10, 1907