Thursday, February 22, 2007

The story behind the story with Foltin

Craig Foltin will not talk to us.
Now that he has announced he will not be seeking re-election, I think it is OK that I tell you that.
It isn't that he hangs up on us when we call or walks the other direction when he sees us coming. I mean he's pleasant enough. He just won't give us any news.
It's true; we have managed to cover the City of Lorain for years without the cooperation of the mayor and if you think that's an easy thing to do, I have to tell you that it's not.
You see, Mayor Foltin does not like what has been written about him on the editorial pages of The Chronicle.
But here's the thing, my staff in the newsroom has absolutely nothing to do with what is opined about on our editorial pages. Nothing.
We really do try our very best to just report the facts -- as objectively as humanly possible.
I have tried to explain that to Mayor Foltin many times. He does not seem to care.
Here is what happened this week. Mayor Foltin told our Lorain reporter, Adam Wright, that he wanted to apologize "in advance" because he would be giving The Other Paper -- but not us -- information for a good story later in the week.
What?!?!?!
Poor Adam. He spent the rest of that day on the phone calling everyone he knew in Lorain to ask what Foltin could be talking about. No one knew.
Then we found out.
On Wednesday, in huge type across the front of The Other Paper, the headline screamed, "Foltin says he won't run for re-election."
So, yes you read it there first. It pains me to say those words. We do not like to get beat by The Other Paper but, hey, they are spoon-fed, we are starved. What are we supposed to do?
When there was talk of putting an Indian casino in Lorain, we -- using our reporting ingenuity -- found out about a "secret" meeting between Lorain County movers and shakers and the folks from the Indian tribe. It was at the Holiday Inn in Elyria.
We attended and even though Mayor Foltin would not talk to us and hustled the casino people away whenever we got near them, we got a story.
We were so proud of ourselves. We thought we found out about a secret meeting that The Other Paper did not. No one from that paper was there.
Our excitement lasted about 12 hours.
The next morning, when we opened The Other Paper, we were shocked to see that their entire front page was taken up with a story about the casino plan, a much more thorough story than we were able to get.
It was immediately clear to us how it happened.
The photo that accompanied their story -- of Mayor Foltin and the casino people -- was clearly taken in The Other Paper's newsroom! In other words, The Other Paper wasn't at the secret meeting because it didn't have to be. It already had the story. The mayor had hand-delivered it to them earlier that day.
We felt as if we got punched in the gut.
Now that we know there will be a new mayor in Lorain (we know it because we read it in The Other Paper), we are keeping our fingers crossed he or she will treat us fairly.
That's really all we ask.

9 comments:

Loraine Ritchey said...

Patti, as you may know I have been very vocal with respect to the fact that the "other paper" was spoon feeding us - the reading public on a need to know basis.

I was incensed at a quote I read in the "other other" paper where Mayor Foltin announced to Mr. Casey with regard to the Shawnee Casino deal that the editor of the "other paper" could "personally squash any naysaying and ensure broad community support"( fully documented)
I couldn't believe there wasn't a hue and cry about that from the population, the media and other politicians .

What worried me as well as the the fact that Mayor Foltin had that option available to him was the fact that he obviously was "sure enough of the of the fact that he was comfortable in putting in writing in an email that option....to me that meant that the media and editor involved was fully involved in that scenario..... something proven to me at least by non denial (when it was on a front pageof the other other paper) and the ensuing editorials over the next months ..( also well documented)

A newspaper using it's power (and print media does have the power to influence) to squash naysaying......really struck a nerve.......and still does.

I find it abhorrent that the "other" newspaper and their publishers and corporate would be party to such nefarious (in my opinion) dealings . I have written about it, written to them but I didn't get any response either.

It is my belief that those in the "free press' must police ourselves and make sure the news is balanced and factual.

Keep up the good work, your reporters are some of the best!Shawn,Joe and Adam I look forward to reading more about Lorain and when the new Mayor comes in I hope all media is treated equally! Loraine

Anonymous said...

I am an avid reader of newspapers ... The Morning Journal, The Plain Dealer, and The Chronicle-Telegram, and I must say I am rarely disappointed after reading my CT. Although I live in Lorain, the CT's efforts always seem more thorough and the news always seems more balanced. Keepup the good work. I love you guys.

Flabblesnort said...

Is there any chance that the Chronicle may be re-opening its old Lorain bureau?

Patti Ewald said...

Wow. I would LOVE to re-open a Lorain bureau. Unfortunately when we had the old Lorain bureau, we had two people to put in it. Now, we only have one Lorain reporter. I have an idea though ... IF WE GET MORE SUBSCRIBERS IN LORAIN, I could make a case that we need a bureau up there again. I know how people form an allegiance to one newspaper but it is mostly because of familiarity. If any of you read both papers religiously, you know readers of The Other Paper could get all the news they need (and more, we hope) from us. If anyone has any suggestions on what we could do to make inroads in Lorain, PLEASE let me know.

Michael Evans said...

First of all, I don’t think it’s very professional for a newspaper to cry about a Mayor who doesn’t like their coverage and doesn’t give them the same access as the local paper. Of course a Mayor of any town will favor his local paper and as long as a Mayor responds to legitimate questions in a proper and professional manor to a newspaper that is all he has to do. *hands a tissue to the Chronicle*

Last, I believe in the following statement. “Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.” When you read a newspaper, any newspaper or watch news reports on TV, understand that you are hearing ONLY what the reporter chooses to tell you and the editor or producer allows.

Matt said...

when reporting your news please be considerate of the fine folks from the Native American tribes. I believe it is uncalled for to use the "I" word when referring to them. I understand it was more than likely an honest mistake but my cousin is half Native American and I find language like that very offensive.

Patti Ewald said...

I'm sorry. I truly did not mean to offend Native Americans.

Loraine Ritchey said...

Well Patti the front page of today's "other paper" says it all .....amazing ....the man was a politician for heavens sake , he didn't really do anything remarkable and certainly nothing to warrant the "King is leaving Goodbye to the King front page"
I don't understand the thinking.

However in response to Michael
I would like to say the "other newspaper" claims hometown but really it is corporate out of New Jersey and 95% of the staff don't live anywhere near this hometown.

It is also one thing for media to employ staff that can by - virtue of good reporting and investigative skills- skoop the competition but totally another thing to be deliberately kept out of the loop by a government official- after all it should be the greater good of Lorain that should've been the priority in getting coverage for this city.

There are many other aspects to this story but suffice to say when print media manipulates or becomes unbiased in their reporting due to favors etc. then it is the "freedom of the press" that suffers and ultimately inho the citizens.
That is a dangerous game that is being played . It is down to readership , readership equals circulation , circulation equals advertsing dollars..so by having the news first and foremost spoon fed to one publication thereby hoping to boost circulation figures and the advertsing dollar the hometown is just another commodity for sale and the price???..... well it is too steep for me to stomach.

I was on the receiving end of spoon fed information just a few months ago and also made the front page luckily the Chronicle followed up on the "information" and it was a totally different story... .same people involved you tell me how dangerous is this game? Thank heveans there was the checks and balances of another print media ....just my thoughts Loraine

Loraine Ritchey said...

sorry that should read "biased" in their reporting. Loraine