I wrote a Letter to the Editor of the Nisqually Valley News (NVN) this week about my observations of a story in his newspaper. The letter was printed in the August 10, 2007 print edition unabridged and is as follows:
I see the story of the July 24th Yelm City Council Public Hearing on the 6-year Transportation Plan made the front page on Aug 3rd, instead of the July 27th edition. Noting the week delay in publication, what also caught my eye was the co-writer of the story, Cindy Teixeira.
According to your newspaper last month, Cindy Teixeira’s last day as a reporter was July 26 and she was hired to begin working for the City of Yelm as a Community & Government Relations coordinator on August 1st.
I find this interesting because her story was published about a major City of Yelm issue in your August 3rd print edition, her third day on the payroll of the City of Yelm. Seems to me this constitutes blatant cronyism.
Regardless, I wish Cindy well in her new position and hope there be no further appearances of conflict of interest between our local newspaper and City Hall.
Stephen R. Klein
Mr. Graves replied in print as follows:
Editor’s Note: The article to which Mr. Klein refers was written by Cindy Teixeira while she was a paid employee of the Nisqually Valley News, and it was solely the editor’s call to hold that article a week because of space considerations. In fact, several articles that Cindy wrote before her last day at the NVN were held, including a feature on a Tenino artist. We will be publishing those articles as well. In newspapers, it’s not unusual to carry over editorial copy for a future edition. Also, those who know and have worked with Cindy understand that she will perform her new job with ethics, integrity and professionalism, just as she always did while employed as a reporter for the Nisqually Valley News.
I have these observations from this exchange:
1. Never did I question the impeccability of Ms. Teixeira. The placement and timing of the article co-written by Cindy is solely at the discretion of the Publisher/Editor, as Mr. Graves mentioned and that was the issue called into question.
2. The NVN is the newspaper of record for the City of Yelm, so one would think that our local newspaper editor would be eager to publish news coming from an official City Council meeting such as this one. After all, this meeting was the longest, most well-attended in-Council Chambers meeting in several years and a public hearing at that. This was a very newsworthy event, in my view, given the general public at-large has had so little opportunity to be heard by the council, except of course, for the 5 persons for three minutes each twice a month. While “it’s not unusual to carry over editorial copy for a future edition” according to publisher/editor Graves, this story was no mere editorial copy, rather an important Tuesday evening Council session about this area’s number one challenge: traffic.
3. The Yelm City Council voted recently to change their meetings from Wednesdays to Tuesdays just to accommodate the NVN, allowing them to publish news from the council in a timely manner and by the print deadline of Wednesday nights. Was there not some story from the July 27 edition that the publisher/editor could have been bumped for a timely report about this rare, well-attended Council public hearing? Further, while article co-writer Sam Chrest sat directly in front of me, I did not see Ms. Teixeira at the meeting; perhaps her co-writing this story was to mentor Mr. Chrest on the eve of her departure from the NVN.
What do you think?