The Local Weekly Wars down in Oviedo, Florida look to be heating up with the older of the town's two weekly papers, The Oviedo Voice, entering the Tom Feeney (R-FL)/Yang Enterprises, Inc./Clint Curtis "Vote-Rigging" fray last week after The Seminole Chronicle's coverage (discussed here, and again when Feeney's attorneys threatened legal action here) the week before.
The story of Curtis' affidavit stating that U.S. Congressman Feeney, of Oviedo, allegedly conspired to create a "vote-rigging software prototype" in October of 2000 was first reported by The BRAD BLOG in early December.
In a front page splash, The Voice promised readers in their Dec. 23 issue: "Charges against Feeney answered in next issue".
They also take a couple of shots in the bargain at both The BRAD BLOG and/or their cross-town competition at The Chronicle even while making at least one sizeable factual error in the four graf splash.
First the error; They describe a meeting they had in their offices with Christopher Bollyn, a reporter for American Free Press. Bollyn, in their article, is described as being "a contributing writer for 'The Brad Blog'".
While we spoke for the first time in our lives to Bollyn on Wednesday afternoon just last week --- several days after his meeting with The Voice, when he subsequently sent us some photographs taken during his investigation of issues related to this story in Florida (several of which we used with his permission in this blog item) --- we assure you that the royal "we" frequently used by The BRAD BLOG is but a quaint arcane literary affectation.
In other words, we, Brad Friedman, work alone and currently have no "contributing writers" on our staff --- of one --- other than ourselves...
We do, on the other hand, look forward to working with Bollyn on a possible future story related to these matters that both he --- and we --- have been simultaneously researching. That proposed plan, however, was hatched only recently, and certainly after publication of The Voice's front page error, which apparently they failed to fact-check...With us.
The Voice also takes a shot at "blogs and bloggers", describing us as "not always totally accurate". While it's a sentiment that we can hardly argue with, we would be remiss if we didn't point out that not a single inaccuracy has yet been brought to our attention in our three plus weeks and several thousand words of coverage on the rapidly moving "FeeneyGate" story.
We pride ourselves --- so far --- on that record. One which, we feel it necessary to point out again, is not shared by the several "mainstream" journalists who have touched on this story (See our discussion of horrifically irresponsible coverage by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and several egregious oversights and errors in the reporting of Wired Magazine's Kim Zetter for just two examples of the MSM botching things as well as the worst "blogs or bloggers" you may find.)
Beyond the description of bloggers as "not always totally accurate" in the inaccurate Voice coverage from last week, they take what seems to be another shot at either us or The Seminole Chronicle (we're not sure which) by suggesting, "we could not immediately get the congressmans [sic] comments, and we simply prefer balanced reporting to the sensationalism of supermarket journalism."
If that shot was towards Alex Babcock's responsible and even-handed reporting in his Chronicle piece, well, we've said a word or two in his defense recently. Not that his excellent reporting needed much of a defense, but when attorneys issue unsubstantiated, thuggish and threatening letters to journalists in the course of doing their job, simply because their clients don't care for the information reported, well, it tends to get our ire up a bit.
We have now spoken to Randy Noles, the editor of The Voice and he has assured us that he was not taking a shot at anyone, but rather included that statement as good-natured ribbing. We accept his defense at face value, as we found him to be a rather good-natured person himself during the course of our discussions, and appreciated his Southern courtesy and folksy aphorism on this story and the friendly competition between the two papers. As he told us during our chat this afternoon, "The market here is like a turnip-green patch. There's a mess for anyone who'd like to pick 'em"
He also apologized for the error concerning Bollyn serving as a "contributing writer" to The BRAD BLOG and chalked it up to a misunderstanding. We accept.
That said, and with our fact-checking services offered to both him and Darla Kinney Scoles, The Voice reporter filing this week's upcoming story, (who we also spoke with at length yesterday), we look forward to the promised Feeney answers to these charges.
We also trust that The Voice won't make the same mistake they seemed to errantly level at either The Chronicle or us by reporting Feeney's answers without checking into their validity or probability of accuracy first. Both Noles and Kinney Scoles have assured us they will not, and that they will be offering the proper context for Feeney's comments in their upcoming article (the first of several, Noles added).
Our understanding is that Babcock from The Chronicle has offered to similarly share information with the reporter and editor at his competition at The Voice. As he told us in a recent email, "the goal here is to inform people, not to be the first to do so or to compete with anyone who has that goal."
Once again, Babcock wins the heart of all of us here at The BRAD BLOG with his gracious sentiments in favor of an informed citizenry.
And once we see the coverage from The Voice, if they are true to their promises, we will offer similar praise to them as well.
That said, and keeping in mind the statement last week that The Voice claims to "prefer balanced reporting", we greatly look forward to a very balanced "complete report" representing all sides of these matters in their Dec. 30th issue. We have informed both Noles and Kinney Scoles that we intend to hold their feet to the fire on those promises.
While The Oviedo Voice has a website, we are told that it is currently undergoing reconstruction, and thus has not been updated in months. Therefore, as no online link is available to their short story, we post it below in full as it appeared in last week's paper.
Here is the short article in its entirety. All errors in punctuation and sentence structure are printed here as they were on the front page article of last week's Oviedo Voice:
A story was released last week in a local free distribution weekly, leveling serious charges against U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney of Oviedo. The story was based on an affidavit by Clint Curtis and information gathered by Christopher Bollyn, a contributing writer for "The Brad Blog" and "American Free Press".
We were contacted several days prior to release of the story, and, in fact, reviewed the affidavit and other material with Mr. Bollyn in our office.
Although he impressed us as a responsible reporter, we chose not to release the story at that time because we could not validate the charges, blogs and bloggers are not always totally accurate, we could not immediately get the congressmans comments, and we simply prefer balanced reporting to the sensationalism of supermarket journalism.
Our reporter is interviewing Congressman Feeney this week. A complete report will appear in the December 30th Issue of "The Voice".
Though we've been told that the promised "Feeney interview" has by now occurred, and the new edition has been "put to bed", we have also been told that Feeney --- for reasons that we'll leave to the reader to surmise --- has chosen to "stay off the record" in that lengthy interview.
We look forward to reading about it.