From all we know of the investigative reporting done for this piece, which ran in the Sunday, October 24, edition, Stoeffler is accurate, especially when he writes that is was accurate and fair "based on the information and interviews we have conducted."
I have reviewed the campaign's complaints and believe the story we ran is an accurate and fair account based on the information and interviews we have conducted.In addition, I have reviewed the tape of our interview with Jennifer Case and I believe our reporters acted professionally and ethically, while asking some difficult questions. The interview was held in a public restaurant and at no time did Case object to the questions. She was cooperative and conversational throughout the hourlong meeting.
The only problem, and Stoeffler does not address it in his column, is that the information and interviews appear to have all been based on interviews conducted with sources pointed out to the reporters either by Billy Long his opponent, Scott Eckersley, or Jennifer Case, the former Metropolitan Grill waitress whose accusations are at the heart of the matter.
Judging from the response reporter Cory De Vera made to The Turner Report when I questioned the reporting last week, many things have still not been answered by the News-Leader.
Ms. De Vera wrote, "We do have several documents requests pending," but did not enlighten us on what documents she was seeking. This, at least, might have given us a better understanding of the approach the newspaper took to uncovering the truth behind the accusations.
"I spoke with several regular customers of the Metropolitan Grill, including some who identified themselves as members of the Metro Mafia. I was going to write a side on what the Metro Mafia was, but time and space did not allow for that in Sunday's story."
Considering the Metro Mafia was at the heart of the story, running the original investigative piece without that background information certainly seems irresponsible in retrospect. If the newspaper did not have all it needed to put the story into proper context, it might have been wiser to hold it for a few days, but, of course, then it would not have been able to highlight the Sunday edition.
The conclusion of Stoeffler's column was a bit more revealing, though it dealt with a different topic, a negative assessment of the newspaper from a consulting firm's assessment:
One of the conclusions of that assessment, released in October 2009, dealt with the role of negative media in the local business climate, specifically a conclusion that said your local daily newspaper (that's us), "has lost credibility and objectivity and is said to incite conflict and community opposition to progressive change."
Tim Rosenbury of Butler, Rosenbury & Partners -- and chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Board -- said in recent months he had seen a "180-degree turn" and that coverage was "much more positive and balanced." He concluded by saying: "I'm proud to read the News-Leader again."
So now we know the direction in which the News-Leader is headed. It certainly is a publication of which the Chamber of Commerce (including the Metro Mafia) can be proud.