The icing on the cake

Extra! Extra! Read all about it:

Rankin Inlet reporter gets facts wrong, leads to demise of local businesses. Young woman gets chased out of town by angry villagers weilding ATV bike pumps.

Rankin Co-op says media report hurt business
A misunderstanding over the number of hotel rooms available in Rankin Inlet may be hurting the community’s largest accommodations provider. Co-op general manager Walter Morey said a report on the hotel situation in Rankin this past month painted a false impression.

So unfortunately the story in its entirety is only available to subscribers. ((Editor’s note, update: a transcript of the article can now be seen here)) I’ve photocopied it, and am keeping it… if nothing else to keep me… I don’t know, humble? I don’t think that’s the right word. Vigilant? Whatever.

I’ll back up.

A month or so ago, a discussion with friends gave me a story idea. There’s a lot of building going on in the hamlet right now, and some question as to whether or not there was enough space to accommodate everyone. So I talked to the manager of the two hotels in town, talked to someone from Community and Government Services, and came up with this story (keep in mind this is a web story of the radio story I wrote. It’s not exactly what aired on the radio, and I take issue with a couple of the wording choices, but it’s fairly close.)

I later hear that there’s been some sort of kerfuffle between the hotels and one of the construction companies about available space, the details of which I’m not clear on. The general idea was the construction company told CGS that there wasn’t enough space for them… even though they had a huge block reserved in one of the hotels for several months. They then tried to get CGS to pay for accomodations elsewheres – in non-commercial accomodations – and now they are all in a big fight (or something to that effect).

I get into work today and my coworker asks if I saw this week’s Kivalliq News. I hadn’t, and she shows me the front page.

HOTELS SAY RADIO REPORT MIGHT HARM BUSINESS.

Greeeat. I read the story over probably 3 or 4 times. And there’s lots of Jackie-slagging gems. My favourite paraphrase being…

Morey said his remarks were taken out of context, in a radio news report, making it sound like there were no rooms available in Rankin – which simply is not the case.

So I thought about it. And I called Walter. We have a pretty fair relationship, and I thought that if he had a problem with something I wrote, or if it had caused him problems in the longer-term, I thought he would have called me.

((And really, if he had, and my story had of caused a problem for him, there was 100% a great way to try and deal with it: I could do a follow-up story. Presto-chango, problem solved.))

So I called and asked him, as nicely as possible (I was trying my very hardest not to sound confrontational), if he thought I had misquoted him in my earlier story. He said no, and that as far as what he saw, the story – MY STORY – was misinterpreted. By others.

Morey said his remarks were taken out of context, in a radio news report, making it sound like there were no rooms available in Rankin – which simply is not the case.

He was very clear TO ME that I had gotten the facts correct, and the construction company had taken that information and misinterpreted it to their advantage.

Morey said his remarks were taken out of context, in a radio news report, making it sound like there were no rooms available in Rankin – which simply is not the case.

So there you go. I made headline news in Rankin Inlet. And I don’t look very good. Not only did I ALLEGEDLY spin a story out of context, but in doing so, caused the collapse of the hotel industry in town.

I think the biggest burn of it all is there IS a story here. And the author *almost* gets it. He makes reference to it throughout the article. Even his sources make reference to it. Hell it takes up the entire second half of the page.

A construction company is renegging on its contractual obligations (aka, to stay in commercial accomodations while working on a job for the Government of Nunavut). This is causing serious problems for the hotel in question.

It’s totally fair game to have mentioned the radio report. Absolutely. But I really don’t think it should have been the focus. There are other issues at play.

And I don’t at all pretend to be a flawless reporter. I can think of two VERY GOOD examples of times I made REAL MISTAKES in a radio report. So it’s not that I made a mistake and someone called me on it. It’s that I got the facts right. And I’m being publicly called out for “misinterpreting” something I didn’t.

What do YOU, loyal readers, think? Some people are suggesting I give the writer a call and cuss him out. I’ve been toying with writing a letter to the editor (though if I do this, I believe I’ll need to talk to the higher-ups in Iqaluit about it). I don’t *think* it’s libellous, though I need to do some research on that one.

Part of me is annoyed. Part of me is fed up. And part of me just wants to heave a big sigh and say “Whatever. I’m leaving in a month anyways.”

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14 Responses to “The icing on the cake”

  1. Townie Says:

    I haven’t seen the story yet, but was this written by Greer?

  2. Megan Says:

    I just read the story, and I don’t think it’s libellous. I do think it’s unfocused and missed the point. The misleading headline directs your attention away from the real issue. This seems like it’s entirely about construction workers, and the real issue is the other company that is apparently supposed to be using the hotel but isn’t.

    It’s too bad when we have to read between the lines. To be honest, I doubt that your radio story really had anything to do with it. That was just a cheap shot at your expense.

    I don’t suggest writing a letter to the editor, but if you do decide to do that, the letter should come from your producer, not from you.

  3. Jackie S. Quire Says:

    TB: Yah, it was written by him right before he left for a 5-week vacation. So I can’t even talk to him about it.

    Megan: I’m going to talk to my folks in Iqaluit about it. It just seem so silly and wrong.

  4. Townie Says:

    I have a mental list of journalists I respect in Nunavut and think do good work. Greer’s nowhere near the top. I’d advise a note telling him he can cordially kiss your ass and tell him he’s a cheap hack.

  5. Jackie S. Quire Says:

    Teehee, oh Townie, how I love thee… let me count the ways 😀

    (Sorry Cathy, but the man’s got his moments)

  6. Kent Says:

    Funny, same editor had a column the week before pontificating on how everyone in the territory must have had a feature in the National Enquirer, due to the amount of people he had met who said thery were “mis-quoted” or taken “out of context”.

    To me, mis-quoted usually means “I said something stupid” and “out of context” means that you didn’t blow sunshine up their asses.

  7. Craig Says:

    He writes a story shitting on a fellow local journalist, then leaves town before it runs and knows that reporter will likely be gone before he returns so he never has to confront her.

    Cheap….hack.

    Lord knows I’ve had my problems with the CBC over the years, but I would never do a hack and run like that on a follow reporter.

  8. Consider the source « Serendipity Now Says:

    […] the source So yesterday’s incident still has me reeling a little […]

  9. Megan Says:

    To be fair, it looks like the story really was taken out of context — by the construction company, not by you, Jackie.

    I’m a bit more sympathetic to “out of context” claims than Kent is, I guess. I know what he’s saying, but I have indeed seen quotes taken out of context. This looks like a good example of that: the fellow did an interview about what happened in the past, and someone pretended that he was talking about the near future.

  10. Kent Says:

    Megan, that is the real meaning of “out of context”, but you and I both know that often, when someone says something plain stupid, they will say it was taken “out of context” because they heard it on TV.

    Same reason that if you are trying to do “man on the street” interviews, people will pipe up and say “no comment” as they walk by, because it sounds like what you are supposed to say when a reporter asks a question.

    I’ve actually responded to people who said I have taken them out of context, and asked them in a large public gathering, “Can you explain for everyone here what you think out of context means?”

    But, that’s just how I get things done.

  11. Reflections in the Snow-Covered Hills » Blog Archive » Considering the source Says:

    […] on the local paper was “Hotels say radio report may harm business”, and she has blogged about it here. The story itself is behind a pay wall, but I can summarise it: 1) Jackie did a story about hotels […]

  12. Megan Says:

    I hate “no comment” and always tell people never to say it. It’s journo-shorthand for “up yours”. Somewhere along the way, people got it into their heads that it was an appropriate thing to say to reporters.

    I’ve actually had arguments with people over this.

  13. Megan Says:

    Now that I think about it, “no comment” and “out of context” would be good blog topics. I have to think about it a bit. Maybe something will come to me on the plane tomorrow.

  14. Fanfare and such « Serendipity Now Says:

    […] what with being publicly blamed for the demise of the hotel industry last month… (see  here and here) I tell you, it was really  nice to feel like I’ve done something good […]

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