On That Lobbying Story
Reporter Jamie Self of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper had a big story in last weekend’s editions highlighting the salaries of several of South Carolina’s top lobbyists.
Self’s narrative – which was driven heavily by several taxpayer-subsidized organizations we’ve previously covered – didn’t exactly break any new ground, although it was interesting to read how she addressed the “gray area” between registered versus unregistered lobbyists.
“I am very cautious of the line but know lots of unregistered people who cross it daily,” one State House lobbyist told FITS, referencing Self’s report.
For example, we have been provided with the names of several individuals who actively lobby members of the General Assembly regarding pending legislation – yet are not registered as lobbyists (stay tuned for that report). Of course the real buzz at the South Carolina State House had little to do with the content of Self’s voluminous tome – which was honestly pretty ho-hum – and plenty to do with the methods she employed in gathering her re-hashed information.
Specifically, the agenda-driven scribe has been accused of deliberately misleading several of the individuals she contacted for her story.
“We were lied to by this reporter,” the leader of one advocacy group told FITS. “We will not be dealing with Ms. Self on any future stories.”
According to the source, Self “ambushed” the organization – fabricating a pretense for her inquiries which was at odds with the true direction of her story.
Another source approached by Self on the lobbying story tells FITS she was “manipulative in her approach.”
“She was given access and information based on a premise which turned out to be disingenuous,” the source said.
Good luck getting people to talk to you with that kind of reputation.
In the news business, sources are sacred. And the information they provide is the coin of the realm. And while aggressiveness is vital, so is honesty – assuming you want to keep your sources for longer than one story.