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Professional standards and all that

By On

Sam Taylor has an article in today’s Herald on the Bellingham City Council special session yesterday when they approved John Carter as the new city Finance Director. Sam includes some quotes from Carter and Dan Pike. However, neither John nor Dan said those things at yesterday’s council meeting. But then, Sam would not know that because he was not at the meeting. So, apparently, Carter and Dan told him those things before or after the meeting - but Sam quotes them without explaining any of this. This is not reporting. This is fabrication of a report of a meeting. I was there and there was no Sam. There was no reporter at all there.

Professional journalism standards require a reporter to indicate if his sources for a story are not his own. And the Herald publisher has assured us at the City Club meeting that his reporters follow these standards but that ‘blog’ websites, such as this, do not and cannot be trusted. So what was said at the meeting yesterday? When the city finally posts the video of the meeting then you can see for yourself. It was only a 15 minute meeting. Of course, some things were said at the meeting that perhaps the powers that be in city hall do not want the public to know - and so we shall see if a video is even posted.

On his blog, Sam acknowledges he was not there. And we know Sam confuses his blog with the newspaper. Sam says - on his blog - that he intended to “... call in later today to make sure the vote went smoothly.” And, according to his printed story, lo it went smoothly - whatever that means. Of course the Mayor and Carter were not going to tell him of anything that was not smooth. Like some obnoxious citizen busting the party with facts on Carter’s background that caused the council members to discuss how they can learn more about these appointees in the future before they have to vote on them without enough knowledge. Nope, Sam would not be told that.

I had praise here for Sam’s reporting during the political campaigns. And he got praise from many others. And he did do a good job. But that praise seems to have gone to his young head and he now considers himself the embodiment of local political reporting. Sorry, Sam, but to keep your reputation you have to actually keep reporting. If you were not at an event then your printed story in the Herald has to tell us that and what your sources were for your story. Professional standards and all that, you know.

About John Servais

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]