Part of being a reporter is dealing with occasionally belligerent or uncooperative sources of stories. It just goes with the territory, and it does make the reporter’s job tougher. Some of these hard cases are simply lawyered up and others are completely private citizens, but you do run across those public figures who won’t talk with the media in general or one agency in particular. Enter Sam Jones.
The former-mayor-turned-water-board-commissioner took the occasion of his first meeting on the Mobile Area Water and Sewer Service board to let our reporter know he won’t be talking to your favorite newspaper during his tenure.
“I don’t give interviews to Lagniappe,” he said, smiling to our reporter, Dale Liesch. Liesch had asked him a very hard question about what his first day was like.
I suppose Dale made out lightly since the last time I personally interviewed Jones he cursed at me in a voice that ratcheted up into the “Thriller” range. That we were in City Council chambers may have been the only thing that saved me from getting flipped off.
Oh well, it’s part of the job.
I’m sure Jones has been no fan of mine since the first time I interviewed him in 2005 and he fibbed regarding a campaign fundraiser in Pennsylvania (What?!) for him where some of the people who supposedly attended had never heard of the event when I called them.
Mr. Jones no doubt grew used to a lapdog newspaper in the Press-Register that absolutely wouldn’t cover him critically at all, even to their own detriment. So it’s understandable he wouldn’t like tough questions.
But you might think after getting his clock cleaned in the election last year Jones would have learned something or at least turned his arrogance meter down to 9. On day one of his new job with MAWSS, Jones is back to his old ways of trying to manipulate who will get half the truth and who will get a total lie.
(Haven’t seen him tell the whole truth much yet, but we’re waiting.)
So the newest member of MAWSS’ board isn’t going to talk to a newspaper that has tens of thousands of readers being served by his new employer. That makes sense. And Councilman Fred Richardson wonders why people voted against this guy. Frankly if Richardson had any sense he’d tell Jones to try to hit the reset button.
I can assure the former mayor, interviewing him is among just about any reporter’s least favorite things simply because of all the fact checking necessary after the fact, not to mention the bad attitude.
But, Mr. Jones, our reporters will continue to do their jobs and report accurately what you say and do.
Favorite local sources online
The 1,700-member LinkedIn “Business Forum of Mobile & Baldwin Counties” was recently surveyed as to their preferences when it comes to local online news, and our little online rag fared quite well.
The 1,749 members of the forum were asked, “What is your favorite ONLINE source of local news?” and the survey was conducted between May 26 and June 8.
According to moderator William Bruce, lagniappemobile.com topped the list as the choice of 30 percent of respondents. In the name of full disclosure, Bruce wrote business columns for Lagniappe a few years ago.
Members were given seven choices in the survey: al.com, fox10tv.com, lagniappemobile.com, local15tv.com, weartv.com, wkrg.com, and other. Lagniappemobile.com slightly bested the statewide al.com, which received 28 percent of the votes while fox10tv finished in third place with 15 percent.
According to Bruce, the results rounded out with wkrg.com at 11 percent of the vote, “other” grabbing 9 percent and local15tv.com finishing with 7 percent. Weartv.com did not receive any votes, Bruce said.
Stan Tiner, who guided the Press-Register in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, is still hitting it hard at the Biloxi-Gulfport Sun-Herald.
With Tiner as editor, the paper continues playing the watchdog role and when I picked up the Father’s Day edition at my parents’ house in Gautier, the number of big, investigative stories on the front page was impressive.
On Monday the Sun-Herald got the payoff for a lot of hard work over the past two years regarding an investigation the newspaper started into former Mississippi Department of Marine Resources Director Bill Walker when he was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay a $125,000 fine and $575,000 in restitution for using his position to defraud the state of more than $1.2 million, according to the paper’s reporting.
On the heels of their dogged reporting on former Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd that led to his resignation and conviction, the Sun-Herald is on a roll lately. Of course a good part of that is having prosecutors’ offices willing to go after corruption reported on by a newspaper — something that’s still not very popular in Alabama.
It’s good to see a newspaper doing its job and thriving.