Friday, February 13, 2009

Did Scene reporter get busted out by Dem Chair?

PiTW blogger Jeff Woods has been continuing his war on progressives by hitting at bloggers' recent attempts to raise a little money for the state Democratic Party.  He uses that beachhead today to launch his latest salvo on Dem Chair, Chip Forrester, and the limbo the party seems to be in after the transition between Chairs.

A commenter named "Chip Forrester, Chair Tennessee Democratic Party" left the following comment:
It would have been nice to have the courtesy of a chance to respond to all of this prior to publishing this piece but since I did not have that opportunity, let me take a moment to help clarify this situation.

Since becoming chair, I have tried my best to be open and accessible about the Party and my actions at the Party. Since I was not given the courtesy of a phone call, let me address this specific situation.

It is customary for the new Chair of the Party to appoint new members to the Standing Committees once elected.

Will Cheek has served as Finance Committee chair for a number of years in addition to serving on the executive committee and as member of the Democratic National Committee. It has been my long held belief that leadership opportunities for members of the state executive committee should be spread among the committee. When elected Chair, I felt that naming a new Chair of that particular committee would allow me to offer an additional leadership opportunity to a member of the executive committee.

Prior to making that decision, I reached out to Metro Councilman Jerry Maynard who serves on the state executive committee and was a previous Deputy Chair under Chairman Bob Tuke’s administration, to discuss the idea of him chairing that committee. I felt that it was important to continue to elevate African-American leaders to key positions on the executive committee and since Jerry was already a member of Finance Committee that he would be an excellent chair.

Unfortunately, I had been given an outdated set of TNDP by-laws, which prior to 2006 gave the chair this authority. In 2006 they had been amended to have the Finance Committee chair serve until January of the next year. The thought behind the 2006 by-law amendment was that the new chair would benefit from the financial continuity of the current Finance Committee chair.

As chair of the Finance Committee in 2007, Will Cheek had negotiated Gray Sasser’s contract and salary and he and I entered into similar negotiations as he had done under the previous chair. In his fiduciary role as Finance Committee chair, it is his duty to husband the Party’s financial resources.

After discussions over the past week or so, he and I have agreed on a recommendation to the Finance Committee of a compensation package that has an annual salary of $95,000. This will be brought to the full Finance Committee in the near future and he and I are confident that the committee will unanimously accept this recommendation.

I hope this clarifies the specifics of this issue.
Let me add a disclaimer that there is no way outside of contacting him to verify whether it was really Chip Forrester who left the comment, but let's assume for the sake of argument that it was. Isn't it a rather scathing indictment of a journalist, if true, that he did not "verify, verify, verify" his information with the subject of his writing? I mean Jeff Woods is more than just a blogger. He's a professional journalist. He gets paid to cover the bases.

I'll follow up when the info is verified.

UPDATE:  ACK says that he has followed up and verified with Chip Forrester that he indeed did leave the comment at PiTW.

UPDATE:  Benintn has the ironclad judgment of Woods's brand of journalism:
This is gossip. It's not news. It's not journalism. What would make this a piece of journalism (not gossip) is if:

1. Forrester was quoted, or there was a report that "Forrester had no comment."

2. Will Cheek himself confirmed that he was voting for a pay cut.

3. Someone called Jerry Maynard and got a statement from him.

4. The "source" went on record.

I'm not sure why it is that Jeff Woods is on payroll at the Scene. This is all very interesting and intriguing and all that, but it's not journalism.

UPDATE: Vibinic takes a turn:
There’s been plenty of evidence in the past several years to suggest that Journo’s haven’t been doing their homework. This is the crux of the argument against using these “Anonymous Sources” without any verifiable source to back their claim, particularly when the report is grounded more in tabloid-esque reporting than the “hard fact” reporting that got it’s ass handed to it thanks to former Administration officials’ use of their anonymity to push a larger agenda.

Is a journalist duty bound to report something if it’s unverifiable, or is it just the manifestation of laziness and sensationalism? ....

The writer is in danger of becoming the tool of a small, unrepresentative group of people. Simply stating that no one was willing to go on record would have put this “Anonymous Source” in it’s place, right behind the refrigerator with the other cockroaches.
I would respond that for some journalists the question of "duty" seems a burden too hard to bear. Their definition of "freedom" makes no room for honor.

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