I usually don’t bother responding to critics, especially those of the uninformed variety.
Today, I’ll make an exception.
Recently two of my colleagues, Ann Kelley and John Estus, have begun reporting on how an extramarital affair between a state Senator and a lobbyist may have affected a $10 million-a-year state contract.
When the first story came out on Wednesday, the blogosphere was all up in arms. Many said The Oklahoman held the story for months unlike their blogs which reported it then a long time ago.
So here’s a brief chart so you can tell the difference between their blogs and The Oklahoman’s stories:
Them: Sources include “insiders” and “multiple well-placed sources.”
Us: Sources include people with names that we publish. Doing so seems to give a story so much more credibility. Helps with accuracy, too.
Them: Blogs are posted by anonymous writers.
Us: Ann Kelley and John Estus wrote the first story and Barbara Hoberock of the Tulsa World also has been working on the scandal. It says so right there between the headline and the story.
Them: No mention of how the affair was an actual conflict of interest.
Us: Details about how the awarding of juvenile justice contract may have been influenced. Funny how all those blog reports are much more interested in the titillating aspects of the story and don’t mention anything about how policy could be affected.
Them: Are happy to state they are “reporting” rumors and innuendo.
Us: If we held the story it was so we could confirm these rumors and innuendo that others are so blasé about “reporting.” Again you’ll actually find named sources in the articles.
Them: Did not report on attempts to contact either Sen. Harry Coates or Haley Atwood
Us: Quoted both in our first story and have done further interviews. It’s doctrine us in the journalism business like to call “fairness.”
I’ll admit we didn’t rush to put rumors in the newspaper and on NewsOK when we first heard them. There was nothing nefarious about that. In fact, it was just the opposite.
We waited to verify our information so we could give readers a full story with actual sources. And I think most readers are grateful for that.
Ann Kelley and John Estus should be applauded for their work. They took the time to get it right.
I think our readers want and should expect such work from us.
“Reporting” any other way is just gossip.