December 4, 2014

Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists

Stanley Hubbard, owner of the TV station that aired a report that accused Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges of “flashing a known gang sign,” has defended the station’s bogus story in a letter to the Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Hubbard’s letter addresses an earlier statement from Minnesota’s SPJ chapter calling on KTSP to disavow the report, which he says “lacked professional protocol”:

“The SPJ Code of Ethics itself says that a journalist should verify information before releasing it. Had you done so, you would have found that KSTP-TV has not, in this instance or ever, allowed itself to be used by one political group to make points against another political group, however, KSTP-TV will always welcome any credible and corroborated critique of its work.”

The letter also blames commenters on Twitter and elsewhere for misconstruing the original report:

“We know that social media is able to control Internet conversation on any given topic. As I am sure you know, much of what appears on the Internet lacks credibility.”

Hubbard also criticizes “two national news organizations” who didn’t get in touch with KTSP before running critical stories about the story:

“Two national news organizations reported critically on our coverage without bothering to ask us about our coverage. One such organization interviewed a law enforcement source used in our first report, and did not include his interview in their on-air product — perhaps because what he said did not support the tone of the Twitter comments.”

(Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon says he reached out to KTSP and Jay Kolls, the reporter on the story. KTSP sent Beaujon a statement and didn’t answer follow-up questions; Kolls didn’t reply at all.)

Hubbard ends the letter, which contains a point-by-point defense of the news report, saying, “I believe that any news organization which is concerned with the news, and not political correctness, would run the story Channel 5 ran.”

Here’s Hubbard’s full letter:

Stanley Hubbard Pointergate Response by MNSPJ

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the surname of the KSTP reporter on the story that sparked #pointergate. It’s Jay Kolls, not Polls.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
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