D.R.: Recall leader’s next letter | VailDaily.com

D.R.: Recall leader’s next letter

Don Rogers

Here’s another letter that won’t make it to print for another week because the author has exceeded his limit of one letter from the same author a week.

Don’t want to get in the way of a good rant, but there are just a few factual points that need to be made.

The Society of Professional Journalists code the author refers to offers guidance for news reporting. This is one of several guidelines from professional organizations, and we follow them in our news reporting. The author makes an mistake in trying to apply them to opinion writing, which is a different beast entirely,.

Along with news reporting and other functions, it’s well established that newspapers also include opinion sections in which they as well as other commentators offer their opinions.

A newspaper publisher runs the overall business of a paper, and like other such leaders in other businesses, he or she serve in many community service capacities that journalists do not. A publisher is not a journalist. And if such service really dictated coverage and opinion, we would not have railed loudly and often against the county spending on the Eaton Ranch open space purchase in Edwards.

As for the comments, the author refused to comment unless his entire e-mail statement would be used without editing in the news story to which he was asked for comment. What’s fine as a letter to the editor does not always fit for news reporting, and we declined those conditions, as any responsible news organization would.

Susie Wendt refused to answer the reporter’s questions for the news story and instead sent a blanket statement, which did not fit the news story. We’re more than happy to print such statements as letters to the editor, but that’s not how news reporting works.

But you can draw your own conclusions about the author’s comments, which will be printed as a letter to the editor in the appropriate order. We don’t have such rules on the Web site, so we can post this now:

Dear Editor,

Daily editor Don Rogers recently wrote to me: “I really wish you were running straight-up arguments instead of these sleazy twists.”

My response to that is:

What you really mean, Mr. Rogers, is that you wish we thought like you, and you wish we were really stupid enough to believe your newspaper’s half-truths, and you wish we wouldn’t hold your paper accountable for your decisions to avoid covering Commissioner Arn Menconi, the subject of our recall attempt, like he should be covered.

I wish you would follow the ethics of journalism, and not just be a shill for Mr. Menconi. It’s clear that you have no ability whatsoever to follow many of those ethics. Why are you not addressing the Daily’s unethical position of having your publisher sitting on Mr. Menconi’s board?

We believe you and your newspaper are in violation of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics. Specifically, we believe you and your paper have:

1. Failed to show respect to sources, including the Committee to Recall Arn Menconi, with your incessant name-calling, or words to that effect, regarding us, including the following use of the words attributed to us or our actions as “stupid, insincere, dishonest, dishonorable, clever, and sleazy”. You have also questioned our concern for the community and taxpayers’ interests.

2. Failed to avoid conflicts of interest, REAL or PERCEIVED. Your publisher’s conflicting position on Mr. Menconi’s board, is not just perceived, it’s REAL.

3. Failed to be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. You have failed to cover Mr. Menconi’s shortcomings. We had to print them, because you wouldn’t. Why?

4. Failed to encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media. Instead, you denigrate us.

5. Failed to examine your own cultural values and avoid imposing your values on others. You and your editorial staff are constantly imposing your values on everyone.

6. Support the open exchange of views, even views you find repugnant. In your August 2nd story, in which Menconi says recall won’t stop him, you falsely reported that Susie Wendt and myself, refused to comment. Susie says she wrote to you, “It’s no surprise that Mr. Menconi and his friends would deny that our reasons to recall him are accurate. I fully expect the Daily’s story to aid Mr. Menconi, because of the Daily’s bias. I stand behind our reasons to recall Mr. Menconi. I doubt you will print this.”

“You also falsely reported that I refused comment, when my comment was:

“The Committee may choose not to respond to any Daily stories or allegations, until the Daily proves that it can be an unbiased participant in reporting of the news. We doubt this can be done, as long as the Daily’s publisher, Steve Gall, sits on Mr. Menconi’s board, and until Daily editor, Don Rogers, quits personally attacking us, and quits acting like he is Mr. Menconi’s campaign manager.”

“Reasonable people understand that Mr. Gall’s directorship creates a clear conflict of interest, affecting the Daily’s ability to report the truth, without spinning it.”

“The Daily has it’s usual turnover in county beat reporters, who traditionally spend little or no time covering county meetings. So, it’s no wonder that your paper has made numerous mis-statements recently. The Daily failed to do its job years ago, of requiring new reporter after new reporter to actually sit through all of the county meetings, not just an hour here and a half-hour there. If your reporters had sat through all of the meetings, the Daily would know that all of our reasons to recall Mr. Menconi are facts. We stand behind our reasons to recall Mr. Menconi.”

“We do believe there is much more riding, on the Daily’s attempt to save Mr. Menconi, than you want disclosed. Just what is it?”

Why did you falsely report that we did not comment? Why did you refuse to publish our comments?

Please print a retraction to the false statements in your story that falsely allege that we refused to comment.

Mike Reid, Chairman

Committee to Recall Arn Menconi


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