The Columbia Heart Beat

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TRIB TRIAGE? Copenhaver-Wright controversy prompts Columbia Tribune questions

Shoring up the Establishment line with liberal references to that crazy blogger

COLUMBIA, 10/8/12 (Beat Byte) -- A story this publication ran about an alleged payoff scheme involving the John Wright campaign prompted the Columbia Daily Tribune -- and some of its anonymous readers -- to question our veracity.
 
But the Tribune never contacted us and their article yesterday omits some key elements about our story.

For instance, it references an email the Heart Beat received from former statehouse candidate Nancy Copenhaver "accusing" State Representative Mary Still of offering financial help if Copenhaver would exit her summer primary race with fellow Democrat Wright.
 
That version makes it sound as though Copenhaver just sent the accusations and the wild-eyed "blogger" ran with them. Instead, her email answered Heart Beat questions to verify -- or end -- a months-long rumor from credible sources detailing the scheme.
 
"If it's not true, I'll drop it," I emailed Copenhaver. Rep. Still denied the charges in both stories.

Trib readers posting under pseudonyms suggested the Heart Beat has a relationship with Wright's general election opponent, Mitch Richards. No relationship exists.
 
I have a strict policy of neither contacting nor communicating with opposition candidates on campaign gaffe stories, unless the candidates themselves are involved. Why? The first thing critics do is shoot the messenger. The first bullet they often fire is to suggest the messenger is secretly "working for the other side."

What's more, covering the White House and the U.S. Capitol for UPI taught me that candidates often take gratuitous shots when opposition tribulations are at issue, making their responses predictable and redundant.

I didn't contact Senator Kurt Schaefer or Richards for the payoff piece; I didn't contact Rep. Still for the corporate hog farm series on Sen. Schaefer; I didn't contact Nancy Copenhaver for comments about John Wright's campaign finance gaffes.

In the rare instance the Tribune credits this publication for a "scoop" -- a story we covered before anyone else, dozens over the past seven years -- they liberally throw around the terms "blog" and "blogger."
 
But those descriptions haven't been accurate about the Heart Beat since last December, if ever they were.
 
For nine months, we've used the same software many newspapers use -- Joomla -- to publish what is more accurately described as an alternative news weekly.
 
To that point, here is our old Blogger site. Here is our new Joomla site. Old, new.
 
Seems simple enough to me, but I've done lots of technology reporting over the years and maybe I'm more in the know on these things. Even on the old Blogger software, the Heart Beat never bore much resemblance to the free-form musings of a typical blog.

Blogger, reporter, journalist, whatever -- I would not have printed Mrs. Copenhaver's claims had I not found them -- and her -- credible.

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