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email transcripts with Steamboat Today editor Lisa Schlichtman late May early June 2016

Friday, May 27, 2016 at 9:15 AM, Kean Scott Monahan wrote:
 
Dear Lisa,
 
As a Steamboat resident of nearly 4 years and a former 9News reporter in Denver, I believe your newspaper's lead story headlined "School employees upset: District staff voice frustration over split decision on pay raises" by reporter Teresa Ristow tests the bounds of editorial impartiality. I think it also buried the lead.
 
The critical consequence of the Board's vote to avoid "deficit spending" was not mentioned until the final 61 words at the end of the article on page 2.
 
Yes, Board President Margaret Huron's daughter who negotiates as a representative for the teachers union versus the "Board" has an indisputable conflict of interest. Had she not recused herself on this vote, it would have been an case of oversight, possibly malpractice. Any fair-minded citizen or journalist must accept this, emotions aside.
 
On the other hand, School Board member Joey Andrews with a sister employed by the district - nnon-negotiator with the School Board - escapes the smell test for even remote conflict. Andrew's relationship was disclosed on page 1. Huron's relationship was published on page 2. Fair and balanced? I think not.
 
Since former employee union leader Babette Dickson declared "war against Good and Andrew," why did not reporter Ristow not reach out to Good for his reaction?
 
I am unsettled with the newspaper's apparent bias. Perhaps Ms. Ristow needs to be reminded of some standard journalist ethics and protocols.
 
Kean Scott Monahan
south Valley
 
2 hours later at 11:12 AM, Lisa Schlichtman replied:
 
Thanks Scott for your feedback but I'm afraid I disagree with you. It's our job to cover all sides of an issue and this one has many facets. Today's story was a second follow-up to the initial school board vote story that published on Wednesday. We did not bury the lead, because the teachers response was the lead to this story. We covered the vote and the reasons behind the vote as the focus in the initial story and the second story we wrote focused on the emerging division between the board and it ran Thursday.
 
We covered the teachers response to the board decision in our third follow-up, which published today, because they deserve their position to be reported on because the board decision affects them directly. This is a common way to cover in-depth stories in a daily newspaper. We break up the information into follow-up stories to give us time to do more research, interview more people and make sure our readers have all the information they need.
 
As editor, I work hard to make sure our articles are objective and unbiased, and I can assure you we have no bias. I have been a journalist for 25 years, and I am well aware of journalism ethics as are my reporters.
 
Would you like me to run this as a letter to the editor?
 
Lisa
 
ME at 11:25 AM:
 
Lisa,
 
I appreciate your prompt reply. I had not intended this as a letter to the editor, but rather a professional courtesy, one journalist to another.
 
Let me consider your offer to publish. Should I decide to agree, I must clean up some obvious typos and spend a little more time crystalizing my message.
 
I will let you know. Let me ponder for a few hours.
 
2 questions: When is the deadline for Saturday's edition? What is the permissible length, considering the gravity of my accusations?
 
Meanwhile, consider this. Newpaper's publish daily and I understand the press of the 24 hour news cycle. Trust me, it was much tighter than that in TV news with helicopters and regional liveshots. Much rides on immediacy.
 
However, reporters are on the front lines and newspapers understand the reality that some reader don't check daily editions, episodically. Many do. You have responsibilities to the community to accommodate locals, tourists and folks returning to the area who may want their news parsed out daily. So much for our divides.
 
What do we agree on?
 
Let's clear this one first, editorially, before I agree to publishing my opinions in your newspaper under Letters to the Editor.
 
You sidestepped my email's only question... at least the only non-rhetorical question posed immediately preceding, to wit:
 
Since former employee union leader Babette Dickson declared "war against Good and Andrew," why did not reporter Ristow not reach out to Good for his reaction?
 
Let's clear this one up as a news judgement call that you endorse.
 
Kean Scott Monahan
 
HER at 11:37 AM:
 
Teresa has been talking to both Roger, Joey and the other three school board members. I believe Roger did not want to comment. Teresa is a solid reporter, and while no one is perfect, she knows her job and does it well.
 
We usually post links to previous stories within our stories and under each of our online stories is a list of related stories. We have limited space and we know readers don't like to read long stories and there is some responsibility for readers to stay up to date on the daily news. We also know tourists aren't the ones reading about the school board. Our audience for those stories is local taxpayers and voters
 
I don't think there's any point in continuing to debate this. I think we need to agree to disagree. I know my intentions and my responsibilities as a journalist and I practice them daily. But you also have a right to your opinion.
 
Letters to the editor have a word limit of 600 words. I would need your letter by 2 p.m. today to run it tomorrow in print. It would be posted online immediately this afternoon.
 
Thanks,
Lisa
 
ME at 12:08 PM:
 
Lisa Schlichtman:
 
Please, I think you are taking this much too personally. I'm all about agreeing-to-disagree. I am also about communicating, professional to professional.
 
Our profession abides, or at least used to abide, by some guiding principles, specifically, integrity and honesty in reporting.
 
Now, I've gone online, as you advise, which I rarely do to read your online edition chocked full of comments and abundant ads. The only linked article displayed since the Board's Monday night vote Teresa Ristow's article "School board split on employee compensation package"
 
I read it. Andrew was quoted. Good was not. Same in today's paper edition. Important distinction and, as a journalist, I need to know from the editor's pen:
 
Do you believe Roger did not want to comment.
or do you know this to be a FACT?
 
This is pretty clear cut, yes or no, Lisa?
 
Again, not to be argumentative, but rather fact-seeking in my prospective Letter to the Editor, i must repeat my initial, foundational query upon which my allegations rest.
Since former employee union leader Babette Dickson declared "war against Good and Andrew," why did not reporter Ristow not reach out to Good for his reaction?
I am doing my journalistic due diligence here and being rather persistent. While you may consider it argumentative, it is a cornerstone of my training to get my facts in a row. Ms. Dickson apparently made her declaration since Monday's article. Roger Good was named. Did Roger ask NOT TO BE QUOTED for a personal attack response on him, or did Ms. Ristow conveniently avoid asked Roger about it?
 
Please provide truthful answers, Lisa. You're reply or your failure to answer some direct questions that are critical to my complaints will define my grasp on the journalistic integrity of your enterprise....or choice to simply pander to special interests.
 
Thank you.
 
Kean Scott Monahan
 
HER at 12:36 PM:
 
To my knowledge, Teresa has attempted to contact Roger for each story. I know he did not return phone calls for the second story. That is my expectation for my reporters and she has already followed that protocol. She is out of town for the Memorial Day Weekend camping and so I am unable to confirm directly with her.
 
And to respond to one of your passive comments, the abundant ads on our website pay for the free access in print and online and the comments allow readers to engage with our content.
 
You are welcome to send a letter expressing your views. And once again, I'm not sure what you're claiming by saying we "pander to special interests." I have no bias in this matter. We are just covering local government from all sides of the issue. And you are welcome to make whatever conclusions you want to about the journalistic integrity of our organization.
 
Best,
Lisa
 
ME at 12:46 PM
 
Lisa,
 
Very well. Thank you for informing me Teresa is out of pocket and details that are important to me cannot be confirmed at this time.
 
I am monitoring developments and my comments for publication can wait until I get some definitive answers to questions I have.
 
I know all to well the economics of media and how difficult it has been for newspapers. Our local daily sometimes outweighs the once mighty Denver Post.
 
I will hold my tongue until the next round of news in the battle between "Andrew and Good" versus everybody else including Teresa's story telling talents and continuity in today's publication where I believe the paper got their say in the matter up front and the nasty little details about the economic realities were left to tidy up at the end.
 
Agenda driven reporters these days are pretty commonplace. Sorry to have to make that observation, but it's obvious.
 
Good luck...and I'll be watching as the "Andrew and Good" vs. the world plays out in time.
 
Kean Scott Monahan
 
===== I resumed after the Memorial Day weekend.
 
Tuesday, May 31, 2016 at 9:28 AM, I wrote:
 
Lisa,
 
You know the question I have asked you 3 times without definitive answer. It's reporter Ristow's duty to ask the accused for response. Was that overture made to Roger Good Thursday?
 
Begin forwarded message:
 
my comments for publication can wait until I get some definitive answers to questions I have.
 
Kean Monahan
 
Lisa Schlichtman wrote at 10:01 AM:
 
She did not call Roger for Thursday's article but did for Wednesday. She talked to Joey and assumed both Joey and Roger did not want to respond.
 
Lisa
 
ME two minutes later, at 10:03 AM:
 
Lisa,
 
I believe the newspaper owes an apology to Mr. Good. What do you think?
 
Kean
 
HER at 10:40 am
 
I do not agree but thanks for the suggestion. I've been in communication with Roger and will talk to him directly. No need for a middle man.
 
Thanks,
Lisa
 
ME at 12:14 PM:
 
Lisa Schilchtman,
 
I urge you to visit hellosteamboat.com where I've published some preliminaries on this matter.
 
You, as editor, have an option to make a front page apology naming Roger Good.
 
Otherwise, expect my letter to the editor in a few days.
 
Kean Monahan
 
HER at 12:20:
 
Thanks for the heads up.
 
Best,
Lisa
 
(Early Friday morning June 3 I emailed Lisa Schlichtman my 600 word essay and later that morning I uploaded it via my Steamboat Today online log in account to Letters to the Editor.)
 
Saturday, June 4 at 1:10 PM I emailed Lisa Schlichtman again, with a refreshed text letter attached.
 
Lisa,
 
I notice today the Letter to the Editor I sent yesterday has appeared neither online nor in Saturday's newspaper edition.
 
I understand technology can sometimes interfere with user uploads. However, I followed your newspaper's protocol in updating with a new password my existing account with your paper, successfully, and uploaded Friday morning, my thoughts in plain text. Everything appeared to work. I had sent you an earlier draft to your business email.
 
That noted, I attempted to log in to my account a few minutes ago TO RESEND under my user identity - the password was just set yesterday, but I was denied access twice. I applied to reset my password, again with no joy in getting throught. Has Steamboat Today blackballed me for my Op-Ed? Let's hope not. We can disagree as professionals, ladies and gentlemen, dealing with facts in this business without resorting to subterfuge.
 
So, here's the text, abbreviated by 5 words to 595 in a modest revision that includes a spelling insertion of a second H in your last name, overlooked in one instance. It should conform to your editorial requirements. Further information may be obtained regularly at hellosteamboat.com where I am updating my remarks as well, as they add some specificity to the subject matter, I think.
 
Thank for passing this along to the proper channels including your superiors if you have yet to consider the consequences of bottling this matter up and not sharing with Lawrence, KS.
 
Kean Scott Monahan
 
Neither email reply, nor response by any other means has been received from Ms. Schlichtman, an associate or supervisor, as of 9:30 am, Friday, June 10.
 
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