Posted by Gina Channell-Allen, president of the Pleasanton Weekly, on May 3, 2011 at 6:57 pm
Gina Channell-Allen is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
The reporter, who was representing a sister publication, Danville Express, was contacted on April 25 by someone representing the White House, not the FLOTUS press office, notifying her that we needed to remove a line about a security procedure because having it in the story might endanger the President and First Lady. We are obviously going to comply with that and would be irresponsible not to.
He also mentioned taking out a line that could be misconstrued about the First Lady. It wasn't going to change lives or destroy administrations by leaving it in or taking it out. It was extraneous and really added nothing to the story. Even journalists have to choose our battles. If it was something worth fighting for, we would have. It wasn't. We made a decision that this wasn't a battle we wanted to fight.
I sent what I thought was a personal email to a person who works for what I realize now is a questionable site. It wasn't the whole story and I didn't intend for that email to be printed or sensationalized the way it was. I was commenting on a piece that the blogger did about a Chronicle reporter being banned from covering Obama's trip because she had tape-recorded some people heckling Obama.
I have made a couple observations that I want to share: First, I need to practice what I preach and check with whom I am sharing information. Second, the White House has a lot of people sifting through a lot of press. Third, people actually really care about the First Amendment and are outraged by anyone threatening freedom of speech.
I said in an earlier post that we - the Pleasanton Weekly and all media outlets - need to be transparent in the reasons we make the decisions we do. During my time as a journalist, I've only had three stories go nationwide; this one email has sparked more debate and comments than all three of those stories combined. While it's been trying day, and I feel like I've been flogged, I am glad people want transparency. Demand it from ALL your news sources.