Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Censored Response to Mr. McElroy's Criticism

The following response, by me, was written in reply to an attack on me by the Editor-in-Chief of the Knoxville News-Sentinel, Jack McElroy. It was censored by The Examiner, so I post it here in the hopes that it will not be subject to censorship or removed because of what it contains:

The Editor-in-Chief of the Knoxville News Sentinel has accused me in a blog post yesterday of copying from the News-Sentinel and reporter Bob Fowler and not giving appropriate credit. This accusation came on Jack McElroy's part despite the fact that I posted a link to the very story on the News-Sentinel's website that I was quoting from-and I DID NOT quote the entire story, despite McElroy's claims to the contrary. Well over half the article consisted of my own commentary, and I have been writing long before I came to The Examiner. Anyone familiar with my work knows that commentaries and op-ed writing are what I do best and are what I am known for.

I quote the News Sentinel frequently because it is not only East Tennessee's largest newspaper, but also because there are a number of writers for the paper whose work I admire and respect, including legislative writer Tom Humphrey, who is by far the best in the business, as well as reporter Jamie Satterfield, who I have had the pleasure of meeting as part of an Inside Tennessee panel during the crisis in Knox County Government. Jack Lail and I share a passion for what Lail likes to call "newspapering." I also use the paper as a source because despite my frequent criticism of the editorial staff, it is a local paper and I have always taken the attitude that to link to it as a source is to support a very important community business. I link to the paper, and when I use its resources I have always given the News Sentinel appropriate credit for their collective work.

In response to McElroy's complaint, which I truly believe to be baseless, I have taken action in good faith, however. I've shortened the quote I used in my commentary, even though without reading the article I am writing at this moment, a casual reader just surfing in may not understand the gravity of the situation since I made that revision. I also made it a point to mention News Sentinel reporter Bob Fowler by name so that McElroy cannot accuse me of not giving Fowler credit, despite my direct link to his story. I also now mention the paper by name-as if anyone who clicks the link can't figure out that the quote comes from the KNS-nevermind the reality that I quote the News Sentinel by name all the time, of course, giving them mountains of free internet publicity and hits to their website.

I doubt this has anything to do with my quote of Bob Fowler's story. A closer glance of McElroy's blog entry shows us what this is really all about:

[I]f you search on Google for "Anderson County mayor truck," the top two results will be links to an story by Tennessee Statehouse Examiner David Oatney.

Apparently, search engine optimization is more important than basic beat reporting, these days.
So McElroy isn't so much concerned about me quoting the newspaper or Fowler's story. No...

He's upset because my Examiner posting has more Google hits than the News Sentinel.

I have no control over whether my commentary on The Examiner has better search engine optimization. Believe it or not, I don't write anything or post content with search engine optimization in mind, I really believe that people will read me because they want to. If I get top billing on Google, that's great-but I am not aiming for it on purpose. Jack McElroy is, apparently, and he's upset because at one moment in time I got more hits than the News Sentinel. What is even more bizarre is that in posting about my supposedly "ripping" an article, thus encouraging me to respond to defend myself, he has likely stirred up a tempest that will invite even more people to come and read me and less to read his newspaper via the internet. Bloody brilliant there, Jack!

Of course, if McElroy doesn't want me to continue linking to and quoting the News Sentinel, thus encouraging traffic to their website, that can be arranged. If it is his pleasure that I never again use his paper as a source, we can see to that. Of course I'd rather not, but I will do it if necessary.

I have always respected many News Sentinel writers and reporters and will continue to do so. I'm happy to show that respect by quoting them and linking to their work. If the Editor-in-Chief and his minions are going to return that favor by accusing me of "ripping" stories from them when I quote and link, why should I waste my time? I should note that this personal attack on me occurs as my name appears on the August ballot for the usually un-paid attention-to office of State Republican Executive Committeeman. McElroy knows the law as well as I do and he knows that I can't defend myself against what he says legally because my name is on the ballot-I am a public figure under law.

Instead of approaching me privately with his concerns (my e-mail is readily available), McElroy chose to publicly defame me, which tells me this was his intent all along. Jack McElroy never objected in 2007 when I "covered the coverage" of Knoxville News Sentinel v. Knox County Commission, one has to guess because most of my posts in those days and the quotes from the paper that were used mostly painted the paper in a more positive light-as was deserved at the time. I've been blogging and writing on East Tennessee politics for over five years and not once have I received any allegation or complaint about "ripping" a story. No, this complaint comes coincidentally when I make a decision to ramp up my political activities in East Tennessee, and I happen to be a known critic of the editorial board of the Knoxville News Sentinel.

I responded with a comment on his blog, but I'll be curious if he actually posts it. Meanwhile, the rest of us move happily into the 21st Century, while Jack McElroy is apparently stuck in the days when the News Sentinel had an information monopoly. This isn't Communist China-we don't control placement on Google in the United States of America.



Post a Comment

<< Home

Locations of visitors to this page
Profile Visitor Map - Click to view visits
Create your own visitor map