Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sunset Lounge Revisited

Well, the Palm Reader stirred up a little dust in her debut yesterday. Some people didn't think PR's (what an unfortunate acronym) criticisms of the Post were particularly fair or relevant. Look, don't jump on me. This is a professional -- and sociological -- experiment, an inside look at the war being waged in Palm Beach County between the Post and the Sentinel. I'm just here to document it.

And today the Palm Reader brings up another interesting issue. A few days back, I got a little humorless and complained about the lack of attribution by the big newspapers of the smaller press in South Florida. But what about the Big Three? They rip each other off mercilessly. The Palm Reader points to yesterday's story about the storied Sunset lounge by the Post's Eliot Kleinberg that is headlined "Can Sunset reclaim glory?"

Basically the same story ran in the Sentinel two months before, on December 15, penned by Leon Fooksman under the headline "Will the sun set on Sunset?" Here's what P-Read said about it: "Eliot did a good writing job on this, though. I just wonder whether the Post would have known about it had Leon not done the story first."

I agree that Kleinberg's story is very well-told, which isn't that surprising if you're aware of his work. But the stories are also very similar. Is there a legitimate gripe here? Or is it just the nature of the beast?

The Story of the Day

The Story of the Day was pretty easy to choose -- it's Jose Lambiet's column in the Palm Beach Post about Ann Coulter. The hate-sprewing, Joe McCarthy-loving propagandist apparently voted in the wrong precinct in Palm Beach County and certified a false address to do it. As the inimitable Lambiet reports, lying on voting forms is a third-degree felony. Mind you, this is the same woman who incessantly made fun of Palm Beachers for being too stupid to vote correctly on the butterfly ballot of 2000. She's so tough on crime, then give her a taste of her own medicine. If she certified a false address, a place in which she had never lived, then charge her with a crime. Then she can strategize with Abramoff and Libby in the big house.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're oversimplifying the issue of one news organization attributing the work of others.

If, for example, the Miami Herald does a big expose - think of Carol Marbin Miller's recent work - other publications that talk about her discoveries should mention that it was first reported in the Herald.

But with a feature story that runs in one paper in December and then another paper picks it up days or weeks or months later, I think it's far less obligatory. There's no reason to believe, in this case, that the Post reporter even knew about the Sentinal story. It's perfectly reasonable to believe - especially after two months - the the first story just generated enough buzz and chatter than the Post reporter heard about the issue without hearing about the first story.

To be a little clearer:
Most stories about the Cheney shooting correctly credited the paper that first broke the story - that was clearly the way that everyone knew about it because the first story was clearly exclusive.

But if, six months ago, the Times had done a feature story about that ranch and then, two months ago, the Post had done a similar story, I don't think the Post has an obligation to credit the Times. Lots and lots of features and news-features stories in big daily papers are inspired by stories in small industry magazines and newsletters that beat reporters follow. Many local TV stories are then following that story from the daily newspaper. That's just the nature of the business.

7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Dave Pulizzi wrote about the Sunset Lounge in New Times in
1999. These nostalgic pieces about the Sunset Lounge are a staple that have been written for years.

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Besides, it just as frequently happens the other way, with the Sentinel picking up a story the Post has done first. In the finite universe of South Florida, both papers are going to end up writing about the same things and people on occasion.

If the Post breaks a hot scoop, the Sentinel's usual technique is to ignore the story for six months until everybody's forgotten about it, then write about it as if they thought of it first. So expect to see a Sentinel "exclusive" on Ann Coulter's voting problems in August.

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a bunch of pussies, posting as "anonymous"

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course this ripping off, for lack of a better word, happens all the time in all three South Florida papers. And it's been my experience that all three papers typically wait as long as they can to follow, unless it's big breaking news that can't hold.

The Post does it, the Sentinel does it, the Herald does it. It's part of the business. I've had my stories followed, and have followed others. You deal with it. I don't think anyone loses a lot of sleep over it.

As for papers crediting the original source for a big investigative story (like Carol Marbin Miller's work mentioned in a previous post) -- that irritates me to no end, too, when papers don't give proper credit. I doubt you'll see the Sentinel credit her or her story in follow-up work, and they should.

Then again, other papers didn't give credit to the Sentinel in following the FEMA story, either.

11:34 AM  

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