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Monday, March 17, 2008

Bloggers, Journalists and Sourcing

Here's a little Vermont blogger inside baseball news for you.

Last Friday, VPR aired a report raising questions about the political motives behind the crackdown on Intervale Compost. I heard it while I was on my way to pick my son up from daycare.

One thing about the story immediately jumped out at me — the meaty part was a conversation during which Agency of Natural Resources secretary George Crombie allegedly said he had Intervale Compost "in a noose."

People who have been following the story may recall that John Odum posted that item on Green Mountain Daily. But though VPR obviously used Odum's intel, it didn't cite GMD. Reporter John Dillon told listeners that the conversation appeared "on a web blog."

I was surprised and disappointed that VPR declined to name GMD. Bloggers who raise important issues deserve to be credited, especially when others use their reporting as a jumping off point for a story.

I wrote to VPR this weekend to complain about the omission, and John Dillon wrote back: "We had intended to name the blog and will make that addition in the web version of the story."

I just checked, and they have, in fact, inserted GMD in the online version.

I think the GMD-related bit of the story is worth sharing here, too. It's a good example of how journalists and bloggers can work together to advance the public understanding of an important issue. From the transcript of the VPR report:

On the Green Mountain Daily blog it was stated recently that Agency of Natural Resources Secretary George Crombie told the Intervale that he had the center in a -- quote -- “noose.” For some at the meeting, the meaning was clear: Crombie was going to tighten the regulatory vise on the compost center.

Intervale Director Kit Perkins was there.

(Perkins) ``It was upsetting. But I certainly didn’t get it out publicly. This is not my initiative here. But I will tell the truth and say yes that was said at the meeting.’’

(Dillon) Crombie has said publicly that the Intervale is the wrong place for a composting operation.

But Crombie said he did not use the word noose to describe his agency’s hold on the Intervale.

(Crombie) ``No. No. I would not do that.’’

(Dillon) Perkins said she said heard Crombie say it. She said she was hoping to work with the state on resolving the environmental and archaeological concerns.


As someone who's following this story closely, I was grateful for the opportunity to hear both Perkins and Crombie respond.

Alas, for some reason, the VPR website doesn't actually link to GMD's blog post. And it doesn't name Odum as the source of the tip. So there's still room for improvement.

March 17, 2008 at 11:42 AM in Media/Keeping an eye on the competition | Permalink


I only caught the print version, so I hadn't known that GMD wasn't credited on air (we're a team operation, so I don't mind not being mentioned personally).I know John Dillon frequents the blogs and is one of the blog-positive reporters out there, so that's a surprise. Thanks for following up with him.

Posted by: odum | Mar 17, 2008 12:01:38 PM

great story. nice job, Cathy (calling them on it)

Posted by: evening | Mar 17, 2008 4:14:41 PM

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