In chasing down the “scoop” from Sierra FoodWineArt magazine on Willie Nelson performing in Grass Valley, The Union wasn’t too generous about crediting our free, quarterly publication and its companion website, SierraCulture.com, citing “rumors.”
It was not unlike the interesting proposal being circulated among public officials to build a “mega-resort” here that broke last week on Sierra Foothills Report. The Union also cited “rumor” in this case, though the document was being emailed around.
Crediting a fellow publication is a routine practice in journalism — the Wall Street Journal and New York Times do it all the time. It’s a professional courtesy. In journalism, we call it operating “inside the sausage factory” — often a difficult, challenging and humbling process.
But we are a small, isolated community that has long been dominated by The Union and a very proud publisher/editor — until the internet and social media came around to shake up the “status quo.” The Union appears uncomfortable with the “new world order” — and justifiably so.
In fact, the newspaper tried to throw us under the bus before it presented the community with its own version of the Willie Nelson concert — on the front page, no less.
I got confirmation of the story by approaching Willie Nelson’s “camp,” the expert in handling hundreds of such deals and also by “digging deeper” by approaching locals. When I worked at Time magazine in the ’80s, I worked with dozens of Hollywood types, including Bob Hope’s “handlers.”
Our magazine will honor “embargoes” with our customers on a case-by-case basis, but we are not a news-gathering organization like a daily newspaper. That’s a very different role — or it should be.
Below is the email exchange with Willie Nelson’s “camp,” which I then flushed out with other sources, nailing down the fairgrounds as the venue and the benefit for the Bear Yuba Land Trust as the concert.
As it turns out, the information was rather widely known in our community. I’m sure The Union’s publisher/editor knew about it, but I’m less certain about how that translates into day-to-day communication with the newsroom staff.
The Willie Nelson concert is a very positive and exciting announcement for our community (that was never jeopardized by my report — and I was very careful to confirm that. I’m a seasoned veteran.)
But it makes you wonder how many other stories The Union (where the publisher also is the editor) is “sitting on” that would interest our community:
I heard Willie Nelson was coming to the Sierra Foothills this summer.
Do you know the dates?
publisher, Sierra FoodWineArt magazine
Thank you for your email Jeff. We are still processing the contract for that date. I should have details within 10 days available for public release. I will let you know as soon as I can.
OK. Thanks. Is it summer?
I believe it will be late summer/early fall by looking at the contracts we do have (September maybe).
When will The Union “play nice” with other media players in its own community, giving credit where credit is due and “collaborating”? Does it really think it still “controls” the flow of news?
Gosh, the “announcement” in The Union about the Willie Nelson concert is now behind a “pay wall” — not free. How does that generate business to “newcomers”?
People need to be asking some tougher questions about our local media’s own newsgathering practices — not letting them “have the last word” behind a “pay wall.”
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