"Please Don't Talk To Anyone Else" - 01/10/14

  One of the most overused word in television news these days is "exclusive."  The Nashville tv news landscape is competitive and has been for decades.  Every news person worth his or her salt is eager to tell stories no one else knows about.  That's what it's all about, telling your viewers things they don't know but would be interested to hear.  Being first is the holy grail in journalism.  The root word of "news" is "new."  It's not as important as being right, but it's important. 

  In recent years, I've noticed something happening in Nashville news more and more.  Reporters at some television stations ask for interviews and then ask people like you not to speak to any other reporters who may call or stop by requesting comment.  I'm told there have even been instances where a reporter offers cash if you'll interview with them and tell everyone else no comment. 

  To me, that's wrong.  Journalism is a profession.  As a reporter, I'm searching for the truth and as many sides to the argument as I can identify.  I have never asked an interview subject not to speak with any of my colleagues.  After we talk, I synthesize the message they've shared with me, ask if I have an accurate understanding of thier position and then I thank them for speaking to me.  Not once have I ever said on the way out, please don't speak to anyone else.  Not once have I ever offered money in exchange for an interview.  I've had people ask.  I've had attorneys offer interviews with a client if I agree to steer clear of certain questions.  I always simply said thanks, but I can't agree to those terms.  It's intellectually dishonest.  It violates what I consider a sacred trust with my viewer.  I'm not for sale.  I'm your advocate.  I'm here to ask the questions you'd ask.

  I'm hearing so many examples of this kind of "reporting," I'm beginning to wonder if some news managers are encouraging or instructing their people to engage in this kind of newsgathering.  If that's happening, shame on both of you.  Shame on the news manager for violating what I consider a code of ethics.  And shame on any news reporter who bows to pressure to behave in this manner. 

  I don't say it's exclusive unless I know for sure this is a story you won't see anywhere else.  I have asked interview subjects to let me know if they interview with anyone else so I won't say "exclusive."  That's fair.  I respect my competitors.  I've always believed if I do everything I can think of to collect information, pictures, interviews I'll end of no worse than even with you at the end of the day.  I've made a career of putting my witts and work ethic against my competitors. 

  I consider this an honorable profession.  Anyone who engages in the practices I just described needs to check themselves, remember what business they're in and the position of trust they occupy.  I've been at this a long time.  My viewers come first.  It's not about me.  It's about you.  Telling you the truth to the best of my ability is what I promise.  It's all I'm selling.  And no matter how journalism changes, the truth and professional integrity never goes out of style.

 

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Last Update on August 22, 2014 07:10 GMT

"STONER" ARRESTED FOR POT

ORANGE, Va. (AP) -- It's a twist on the old saying that when dog bites man, it isn't news, but when man bites dog, it is news. A "stoner" being arrested for pot possession isn't news. But when the "stoner" is named "Stoner" -- it's worth taking note of. This "Stoner" -- 42-year-old Paul Scott Stoner -- was arrested in Virginia. And authorities in the commonwealth say he is facing drug charges after police found more than $10,000 worth of pot at his home. He's charged with growing marijuana and having a firearm while in possession of more than a pound of marijuana. Stoner is free on bond, with a hearing set for next week.

PAY IT FORWARD

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Think of it as a "pay it forward" campaign -- on caffeine. A woman in Florida went to a Starbucks drive-thru in Florida on Wednesday and on top of the iced tea she ordered, she asked to pay for the caramel macchiato for the stranger in the car behind her. The man in the car behind returned the favor to the driver behind him -- and a chain reaction started that continued for hours. The store crew kept track -- and before it was over, there were 379 customers who were treated to a Starbucks drink then paid it forward -- or backward, if you want to look at literally. The last customer in the chain declined to pay for someone else's coffee, even though a barista explained the concept to her.

HERMIT IS OUT OF THE WOODS

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) -- If you run into a guy in Maine who seems just a little out of step with the modern world, do not ask: "What, have you been living in the woods for 30 years?" The answer might be yes. Christopher Knight has spent nearly three decades in the woods, away from society. He survived the brutal winters by swiping food from homes and camps. Knight's story is being told in the current issue of GQ magazine. He says he isn't crazy about the society he's being forced to re-enter. He says the world these days is too colorful, lacks aesthetics -- and is crude.

 
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