As the proposed changes to Metro’s nondiscrimination policy grind their way to a second reading, coverage has been popping up more frequently in various outlets, notably The Scene and The City Paper. Both gave a pretty good rundown on things today (thanks to Mr. Woods for linking to the O&A article that ran last week), and the CP’s Nate Rau penned an excellent commentary that lays out the issue, where things are now and who the players are. Used to be something that a daily would do, but ours is busy defending itself against charges of cronyism.
And speaking of which …
Sunday’s Tennessean featured its usual column by Mark Silverman, but this time around the editor’s usual chatty missive about what the paper’s up to these days was decidedly more testy. In fact, as he defended the paper and columnist Gail Kerr from accusations that they’re in bed with embattled PR firm McNeely Pigott & Fox, Silverman threw out a whole series of defenses.
Among them: 1) The paper’s newsroom staff signs ethics agreements saying they won’t favor one side, take gifts, and so forth; in fact, the Tennessean’s is much more “stringent” than those at “other media outlets.” In Silverman’s mind that’d probably include Channel 5, which aired a report tying Kerr’s columns to her working relationship with MPF, as well as the “most-read” blogs in town. 2) The PR flaks contacted other media, too. And they ran stories that could be construed as favorable. So there. 3) The Tennessean has and continues to cover the convention-center issue, up to and including reviewing bid documents and filing FOIA requests to see ‘em.
The column went on and on, and reminded us all that the Tennessean has the biggest circulation in town and some good reporters. All true, but taking credit for reviewing public documents and covering MDHA meetings is rather silly when that’s the sort of thing beat reporters should be doing lest they lose their jobs. And as to relationships, cozy or otherwise, whenever I have had lunch, dinner, drinks, whatever with PR types who wanted to place a story in a publication I wrote for, I always asked how much they were being paid, and for what services. They’ll bitch, but if it’s a public contract they’ll come across with the info. Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see any stories about MPF’s contract, or overruns thereof, in the daily’s pages until all hell broke loose at City Hall.
Lastly, Mr. Silverman extended an invitation to sit in on news meetings, which are held daily at the paper. If you’ve got time, go; it’s an opportunity not often extended, and for that he deserves some credit. Let’s just hope it doesn’t replicate some of these town-hall congressional meetings of late. After all, people around these parts hate the librul media almost as much as they do the gubmint.