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"Please Don't Talk To Anyone Else" - 01/10/14

  One of the most overused word in television news these days is "exclusive."  The Nashville tv news landscape is competitive and has been for decades.  Every news person worth his or her salt is eager to tell stories no one else knows about.  That's what it's all about, telling your viewers things they don't know but would be interested to hear.  Being first is the holy grail in journalism.  The root word of "news" is "new."  It's not as important as being right, but it's important. 

  In recent years, I've noticed something happening in Nashville news more and more.  Reporters at some television stations ask for interviews and then ask people like you not to speak to any other reporters who may call or stop by requesting comment.  I'm told there have even been instances where a reporter offers cash if you'll interview with them and tell everyone else no comment. 

  To me, that's wrong.  Journalism is a profession.  As a reporter, I'm searching for the truth and as many sides to the argument as I can identify.  I have never asked an interview subject not to speak with any of my colleagues.  After we talk, I synthesize the message they've shared with me, ask if I have an accurate understanding of thier position and then I thank them for speaking to me.  Not once have I ever said on the way out, please don't speak to anyone else.  Not once have I ever offered money in exchange for an interview.  I've had people ask.  I've had attorneys offer interviews with a client if I agree to steer clear of certain questions.  I always simply said thanks, but I can't agree to those terms.  It's intellectually dishonest.  It violates what I consider a sacred trust with my viewer.  I'm not for sale.  I'm your advocate.  I'm here to ask the questions you'd ask.

  I'm hearing so many examples of this kind of "reporting," I'm beginning to wonder if some news managers are encouraging or instructing their people to engage in this kind of newsgathering.  If that's happening, shame on both of you.  Shame on the news manager for violating what I consider a code of ethics.  And shame on any news reporter who bows to pressure to behave in this manner. 

  I don't say it's exclusive unless I know for sure this is a story you won't see anywhere else.  I have asked interview subjects to let me know if they interview with anyone else so I won't say "exclusive."  That's fair.  I respect my competitors.  I've always believed if I do everything I can think of to collect information, pictures, interviews I'll end of no worse than even with you at the end of the day.  I've made a career of putting my witts and work ethic against my competitors. 

  I consider this an honorable profession.  Anyone who engages in the practices I just described needs to check themselves, remember what business they're in and the position of trust they occupy.  I've been at this a long time.  My viewers come first.  It's not about me.  It's about you.  Telling you the truth to the best of my ability is what I promise.  It's all I'm selling.  And no matter how journalism changes, the truth and professional integrity never goes out of style.

 

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Last Update on July 02, 2015 09:10 GMT

CHURCH OF CANNABIS INDIANA

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- There was no holy smoke -- at Indianapolis' First Church of Cannabis. About two dozen police officers kept watch over the inaugural service yesterday, after authorities threatened to arrest congregants who smoked pot there. Still, the lack of marijuana didn't seem to be too much of a buzz kill. Congregants danced to reggae and funk, passing and puffing from imaginary joints. A mural mimicking Michelangelo's famed Sistine Chapel fresco was painted on a wall behind them -- but instead of God's hand reaching out to man, the image shows God offering mankind a big joint. The church was formed as a test of Indiana's new religious objections law. Members are hoping to legalize marijuana in the state as a religious liberty.

DIAMONDBACKS-MCCAIN FOUL BALL

PHOENIX (AP) -- Senator John McCain is blaming glaring sunlight for his failure to catch a foul ball that fell onto his lap at an Arizona Diamondbacks game Tuesday night. The foul by Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins landed in the seats, took a big bounce and caromed into McCain's lap. He wasn't able to react fast enough, throwing his hands up in disgust as the ball rolled back toward the field. A fan tried to give McCain the ball, but he waved it off. McCain explained the botched catch in a tweet the next day.

LOUISIANA GOVERNOR-BRITNEY SPEARS

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Donate baby one more time? One of Louisiana's candidates for governor is trying to draw campaign donors with a Britney Spears ticket giveaway and backing from the superstar's mom. State Rep. John Bel Edwards, one of four major gubernatorial candidates and the only Democrat, has released a fundraising email touting the Lynne Spears endorsement. In the email, the Edwards campaign offers people who donate $50 a chance to win a trip to see Britney Spears live in Las Vegas.

STOLEN TOILET PAPER

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- The T-P is M-I-A. After a citywide effort to collect toilet paper for charity in Springfield, Illinois -- 10,000 rolls have gone missing. Officials with the St. Martin de Porres Center say someone took the toilet paper from a locked trailer. Volunteers collected thousands of rolls after the food pantry reported it hadn't been able to distribute toilet paper for five years because it is too expensive. But there is some good news -- a local grocery store says it will replace the stolen rolls for free.

 
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