I have just returned from Maumee, where Ford closing their plant is still being talked about with tears, frustration and fear of the unknown. It is the 2nd such closing that has affected my family in the past 18 months, so good news re: a former Ford facility was very welcome on Friday! Good news turned to fiasco in a matter of hours.
For those of you that have followed my articles you will know that I have promised to treat these blog articles in the same manner and standard as if writing for the print media. Therefore I found it hard to comprehend that a well respected print publication would have a blog policy that is at the very least questionable.
I was on the receiving end of that policy this weekend and to that end I have written to the Cleveland Plain Dealer with regard to that policy. Credibility whether you are a public official, media outlet, journalist etc. is paramount and you owe it to the public that supports and depends upon you to be transparent and forthright. And to stand by what is written in your publication whether in ink or internet.
I would first like to thank you for your coverage of Lorain and vicinity. Your publication both in print and on line has been a great source of information. I have used some of your findings in my own writing for the Blog http://www.thewomblog.com.
In fact after reading Friday’s print edition (September 22nd 2006) your banner top of the Metro Section “Breaking News” “Congressional candidate Craig Foltin gets the Open Mike for his turn to speak out at cleveland.com/open” I went to the “blog”. I was very pleased that according to the Foltin Blog that day “We already have a buyer of the plant…” and “A new buyer for the Ford Plant…” Since I had been in Canada for a few days I thought I had missed a big announcement (please refer to the Blog article of mine) http://thewomblog.com/?p=43
Upon reading Mr. Foltin’s blog – signed the Mayor of Lorain – I immediately contacted city officials for their opinions and clarifications for a follow up article. I quoted the “blog” in my own internet reporting, feeling secure in the knowledge that the Plain Dealer is a reputable source of correct information and the tough standards to which your publication both in print and on line adheres. I felt safe in the knowledge that I could link to the Open Mike Blog and my own readers would benefit from the information they would find when they linked through to your site.
Imagine my chagrin when I received e-mail after e-mail chastising me for misquoting Mayor Foltin and having my own credibility as a writer questioned. Luckily I had copied the “ORIGINAL” and was therefore able to defend my credibility. As you know credibility is everything to a journalist of any worth and to a publication whether it be on line or in print, and if it isn’t – it should be. Therefore, I would ask you to please reconsider your policy with regard to the blogs.
A word about the ground rules for OPEN MIKE: It’s been our policy all along that politicians posting on the site can say whatever they want, provided they do not engage in outright libel. And the right to say what they want extends to unsaying what they want as well. Readers may judge whether the revisions are inconsequential or not. –Ed.
Whilst I am in complete agreement with their freedom of speech and saying what they like, having been on the receiving end of what can happen to another’s credibility when “revisionist writing” takes place AFTER publication the consequences of the “unsaying” policy can lead to problems.
The “Blogs” are a wonderful tool and I too, am trying very hard to deal with this new way of “publishing”. I have written for American, British and Australian publications and I have personally decided that in this new sphere I will adhere to the same guidelines and standard that I was held to in print media.
I hope that you rethink your policy in regard to “unsaying” it is a dangerous precedent in my opinion and can cause a ripple effect as it did with me this week. Thank you again for your consideration and for an excellent publication.
Sincerely Loraine Ritchey http://www.thewomblog.com