Here in the patch, everyone knows the hallmark of good journalism is accuracy. People have to believe that what they read in a news story is actually what happened, or is really what the quoted source said. Without accuracy, everything unravels.
Thus, when everyone at the fire hall gathered to hear the inaugural words of wisdom from HeraldStandard.com's editor Mark O'Keefe -- promoting his weekly Web-based feature "On the Mark" -- they were flabbergasted to hear this plea from the newsroom's Grand Puba:
"If you see a story and you think, 'Well, gee, that really wasn't accurate' or whatever, please give me a call."
Really, you can't make this stuff up. Things must be really, really bad at a newspaper if its editor is willing to go online and serve as an apologist. How else can you better describe O'Keefe basically making excuses for missed stories, and saying things like, "Please give us a call. We need to know (what's going on)."
Note to Mr. O'Keefe: It is the JOB of your reporters and editors to know what's going on in the community you claim to serve. If that's not happening, it's not the public's fault for not telling you; it's your fault for not having a staff that's in-the-know.
When O'Keefe makes an admission that his news operation is going to make a mistake here and there, and that it "isn't perfect" and isn't going to be "100 percent," he is basically asking readers to accept less of a professional standard than they deserve. Perhaps their motto shoud be, "We aren't perfect," or "We get it right most (or some) of the time."
That said, we take heart in knowing that O'Keefe wants readers to contact him directly, be it to tell him what's going on, or to point out inaccuracies, or to help in the effort to "report on the good things" that are happening. (His number is 724 439 7569 and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org)
By mistake, some of your questions intended for O'Keefe were sent to our email account. Feel free to forward any these questions to O'Keefe, who should be more than eager to answer them in next week's episode of "On the Mark."
I saw where you said, "We have no real bias here. We have no real agenda here." How do you square that with the reporter who was caught on film campaigning for a certain county commissioner candidate in last November's election? And can you please explain how that story on the Fayette County Conservation District, which cast another candidate in a bad light, got into print right before election day, right under your nose?
Ain't buyin' what your sellin'
I have read the Herald-Standard for many years, and I am confused. Do you not endorse candidates for magisterial district judge as a consistent policy, or do you only not endorse in those races when your wife is a candidate?
Magisterial district judge candidate not named O'Keefe
I saw where you said you would answer questions about school boards. I read recently where one school board was touting its food service program as the best, and saying it should be used as the model for all school districts in the county. My question is: Can anybody order food for their wedding reception under a school district's food procurement contract, and have it delivered to and stored on school property? Or do you have to know someone? Pease ask around your office and get back to us.
Hungry for Knowledge
I read where you wrote an editorial that was highly critical of District Judge Michael Metros for closing a proceeding to the public. His reason, I think, was that the case involved a young girl who was emotionally and mentally fragile. I think you are right on this one, in that the law doesn't give him the right to pick and choose which cases to hear in public. But I would like to know if your reporter objected, and if so how strenuously, when Metros announced he was barring the press from the hearing. Shouldn't that be something your reporters are taught to do? Are you taking any steps to make sure they know to stand their ground in the future?
Silence Isn't Always Golden
In the past year, did you ever personally get a report from a borough council member that one of your reporters who covered that borough was calling council members, lobbying them to vote a certain way on a big issue? If you did get such a call, what immediate action or actions did you take?
Ethics in Action, or Ethics Inaction?
I read where you praised Uniontown City counciman Gary Gearing for questioning the expenditure of $80 a month by Mayor Ed Fike, so he could go on WMBS radio once a month and give a State-of-the-City address. At the same time, you criticized Fike for this plan.
But not long ago, you fully supported the county's use of $60,000 in tourism tax money to launch a tourism channel on a cable TV system that only serves half the county. What's the difference? At least the radio station's signal reaches everyone in the city. And could you please tell us what the broadcasting of the Fayette County commissioner meetings has to do with tourism?
Looking for Consistency