The Back Story on Haigh’s Convention CommentsApril 28th, 2010 by Steven Gardner
My story on Kathy Haigh’s convention comments was edited for space and appropriateness. It’s a battle we always go through, presenting a story that tells the story without overtelling it.
If you look to the right and blow in the rail on the side you’ll see a tab that invites you to become a fan of the Kitsap Caucus on Facebook. Dan Griffey, the Republican candidate challenging Haigh in the 35th District is either a friend or a fan of the caucus. On Tuesday of last week I saw that he had posted the following. (Click on the images to see them more clearly):
Later the post appeared under his own name:
I wrote to him and asked how he head heard about it and this was his response:
Addressing the issue again, he posted:
There were two reasons to pursue this story. The first is that someone was being accused of calling someone a racist. Not only was it someone, it was someone elected reported to have said it. These things are often bothersome to deal with and most of the time it turns out the accusation isn’t true. But on the chance that it is true, we think people would want to know that an elected representative, or someone wanting to get elected, said something like this.
So we go after it. The second reason to pursue the story was also the more compelling reason to actually run the story. The accusation was out in public. So I called people who were there and Haigh herself to get their versions of what was said. Then I called Griffey. I made another call for someone who could add context, but was unable to reach that person. As it turned out, what Haigh did say merited explanation it is clear many found her explanation unsatisfactory.
My thoughts going into writing the story were that if I’m going to write it, I have got to give the incident as complete a context as I can. On the other hand, we don’t want to make more of this than it deserves. I wrote a pretty long story that ended up getting cut. Two of the comments pictured above were part of the original story, but I placed them well into the second half.
The fact is I agree both with my reasons for including more context and my editor’s reasons for reducing the story. As it was we didn’t get to talk about it before the cuts were made, because I had joked I didn’t want anyone calling me Friday night. My wife and I and friends were going to be in Seattle watching the play “On the Town” at The 5th Avenue Theatre. I thought the story was edited well, but those comments from Griffey posted on Facebook said something to readers, too. If I had presented at least one of the quotes higher in the story, perhaps it would have remained.
On the whole, the story we published said all it needed to. The story included what was reported to have been said, gave Haigh a chance to elaborate on her statement, gave Griffey a chance to comment and presented the fact that he did post the issue online.