San Diego alt-weekly obtains 2,100 pages of 'catty' SPJ emails

San Diego CityBeat

Dave Maass says most of the emails -- he got them through a public records request -- are "dull administrative correspondence dealing with the regional spring conference and an awards competition, but there's also a fair amount of smack-talk about various media figures - including CityBeat and myself - as well as internal politics regarding local board members perceived as not pulling their weight." The alt-weekly staffer writes:

Perhaps what’s most worthy of discussion is the fact that I was able to obtain the emails to begin with -- and whether that represents a breach or failure on the organization’s part to keep confidential emails confidential. It also raises the question of whether it's appropriate for a journalism organization to allow a government attorney to remain on the board, privy to the conversations of journalists, considering the oppositional role the media is supposed to have with the state.

The government attorney he refers to is Jodi Cleesattle, a SPJ San Diego board member and former reporter who now works with the California Department of Justice.

Maass says there was "significant debate" in in the CityBeat newsroom about whether to request the SPJ emails, what do with them and how to present them in the paper. He acknowledges, too, that "if you cracked open CityBeat's email servers, you'd find just as much sniping and smack-talk, not only toward other publications, but between ourselves. I won't deny it: As professional journalists go, we're probably just as petty as everyone else."

* "Society of Petty Journalists"

  • Jim Romenesko

    From 1999 to 2011, Jim Romenesko maintained the Romenesko page for the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based non-profit school for journalists. Poynter hired him in August of 1999, after seeing his, a hobby site he started in May of 1999.


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