Yael commended the story’s author, David Martin, which was wonderfully magnanimous. The fact that someone at the Star even mentioned David and the Pitch at all was a momentous occasion in itself.
I thought maybe the Star had finally changed its ways, that its reporters and editors had finally decided to stop pretending that they’re the only journalists in town and that they never get scooped.
But then I checked back at Midwest Voices the next day and found a Barb Shelly post commenting on an article by Matt Campbell about some med school students who got in trouble for playing with a placenta.
And I happen to know exactly where and how Pitch reporter, Nadia Pflaum, got that story, so there’s no doubt in my mind that the Star was following up on the Pitch’s exclusive.
Did the Star give Nadia credit?
I’ve been there, lots of times.
The worst was when TWO reporters for the Star wrote a story about Emanual Cleaver receiving government funds to buy a car wash in Grandview — two years after I had broke the story in the Pitch.
As soon as I read the Star’s rewrite of my work, I emailed both reporters.
One denied that they’d done anything wrong, saying that they had added a couple of details that wasn’t in my story.
As if that made it any less my scoop.
The other reporter told me pretty much the same thing. I wrote back and pointed out that the national papers — the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, etc. — always credit one another for the parts of ongoing stories that their competitors break.
There’s no rule demanding they do so. It’s just good sportsmanship.
To my surprise, the Star reporter wrote back saying he agreed.
In my opinion, the Star’s stubborn refusal to give credit where credit is due is not just rude. It’s strong evidence that the Star is an institution of power, no less vainglorious than the Mayor’s Office or the City Council.
It’s all about image — in this case, the image of being the only consortium of scribblers who can break news.
Seriously, what’s the difference between the Star claiming the Pitch’s stories as their own and Mayor Funkhouser taking credit for balancing the budget when it was the members of the Council who got it done?
And don’t even get me started on transparency. The Star is the most secretive institution in this city.
But I’ll leave that for a post another day.