Thursday, May 25, 2006


I may find myself part of a news story in the coming days.

If anyone actually visits this blog, I hate to disappoint. It’s nothing salacious.

I never visited the Watergate complex for poker and hookers. Then again, I was never invited.

I haven’t adopted any Third World babies with Angelina Jolie and that thing about Jennifer Lopez... well, I’d rather not talk about it.

Instead, it involves a “scandal” of different sorts.

There’s a local candidate running for office. As is customary, I asked a reporter to write a feature about the candidate when he announced that he was running earlier this year. The reporter made a call. Then he called again. And again.

He kept calling for a few weeks and never got a call back. After awhile, I told my reporter to stop calling. It was a waste of time. If the candidate didn’t want to submit to an interview, then screw it. (Note: The three other candidates called back and articles about them appeared on the front page. I was careful to treat them equally.)

So we went about our merry ways, covering the news and putting our a paper every week. Babies were born, old people died and the Mad River flowed unabated into the sea.

Earlier this week, the candidate who didn’t return phone calls sent me a short “bio” and asked that I print it on the front page. The other candidates’ “press releases” were on the front page earlier in the year, and he wanted the same for himself.

I explained we hadn’t printed press releases on the front page. They were articles written by reporters. He had been given the same opportunity for an interview, but failed to return phone calls. He missed the boat.

Besides, the next issue of the paper comes out exactly one week before Election Day. It’s really the final election edition, because most people will have voted before they receive the issue that comes out June 6.

To print a feature article, and especially a press release, about him at this point would be grossly unfair to the other candidates.

But that doesn’t mean that Mr. I-Don’t-Return-Phone-Calls can’t get his message out. As I do with all candidates, he can write a 400-word column explaining why he should be elected. Plus, I offered him space to respond to letters critical of him.

Basically, he’s getting a butt load of free space in the paper to advance his ideas. I’m paying for that space with my own nickel, and will provide it irregardless of how much crap is tossed at me. This ain’t personal, it’s politics.

In addition, he can purchase advertising space. But I didn’t bring this up. I feel uncomfortable selling political advertising. He knows it’s available and I leave that up to him.

It all seemed very logical in my little mind.

Then came the email, sent to me and several other media outlets (and school administrators, for some reason.)

It was titled “Media and Political Games.” He denied that he had ever received any phone calls, except for one from me when I attempted to obtain a photo. I was playing games, essentially part of a media conspiracy aimed to preventing him from being elected and protecting the reign of the incumbent candidate.

Hell yeah! It was good stuff – thoroughly enjoyable reading except for the fact that I was the one painted as the villain.

Naturally, I started to feel somewhat defensive. But then I thought about it and started laughing.

My newspaper has all sorts of deficiencies. I wouldn’t even want to begin to list them.

But when it comes to fairness, I feel I’m on solid ground. I’ve even been fair to people who I thought were real miserable SOBs. They got front page features written about them, with smiling mugs!

I’ve known candidates that seemed to be really dumb, really stoned, or in some cases downright crazy.

But I still treated them equal. Articles were written and column space provided.

As for the candidate now making the accusations, I don’t really know enough about him to make a judgement. Well, I guess I could based on his emails. But as for the issues, who knows?

Anyway, emails and conversations are taking place. Is the candidate’s email just whacky nothingness? Will a paper cover it? How will I respond in my own paper?

I don’t know, but full disclosure is available upon request. Just don’t ask about Jennifer Lopez. We ask that you respect our privacy during this very difficult transition.


Blogger geobell said...

Since you won't tell us the Jennifer Lopez story, we sure don't want to hear any more about "Mr. I-Don’t-Return-Phone-Calls." I suspect the 'gentleman' held off on purpose so as to have his free advertising published at the most oportune time.

3:22 PM  
Blogger geobell said...

Ed. note: spelling in previous post s/b "opportune"

3:24 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

A few days went by and I think the whole thing subsided. It looks like it will be a non-issue.

7:56 PM  

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