Monday, January 13, 2014

Why SF Chronicle Didn't Tape Exclusive Chat With Rep. Pelosi

(Rep. Pelosi in the Chron's editorial board room. Credit: Liz Hafalia, SF Chronicle.)

The San Francisco Chronicle scored a media coup last week when Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi sat down with their editorial board, a few reporters and a photographer at their Mission Street office. She generated a few stories and editorials, and yesterday editorial page editor John Diaz milked the meeting for a column.

My curiosity piqued about a tape of the meeting, I began an email trail with Diaz: Please let me know if the Chronicle taped the meeting with Rep. Pelosi last week and if so, how to view it. Would like to see for myself how she answered questions from reporters and editors. Thanks. 

His reply: We did not videotape the meeting

Me to him: How odd, given that we live in an age of video cameras recording so many moments and meetings with politicians. Heck, the Chronicle's own fabulous Carla Marinucci has in the past made great vids as Shaky Hand Productions. She should make more of them! 

 Why didn't the paper tape the Pelosi meeting? Did you ask to do so and get a refusal from her? I just think a lot of folks would have liked to see the meeting with our own eyes, and see how our Rep handled herself during the interview.

I just found this snippet of tape from an editorial meeting the paper had with the former Rep, Pete Stark on your siteAnd a search of the SFGate site turned up this Shaky Hand Production vid with Jerry BrownSo, I'm even more curious why the Pelosi meeting wasn't taped when your chats with other pols were and then posted to the web.

Diaz to me, saying something of a contradiction of what reporter Carla Marinucci said below a few years ago: We rarely videotape meetings except for endorsement meetings in key races (such as the two you cited).

Seems quite short-sighted to not tape all such board meetings with politicians regarding of whether it's endorsement time at the Chronicle. This is equal to saying they don't take written notes at events if it's not election time.

I want to know, since the Chronicle was serving as a stand-in for me as a voter who can't recall the last time Pelosi held a town hall meeting or her staff did to face Question Time from her constituents, did the paper ask about the eviction epidemic and gentrification taking place, for starters. What about federal assistance to address lack of affordable housing stock creation for low and moderate income folks?

Without a tape of the meeting, we're left to the editorial decisions telling us about Pelosi views on George Lucas' attempt to build his museum in the Presidio.

What if she make a bombshell announcement or made a controversial comment, would be good to have it on tape, but the Chronicle splits hairs over what to tape instead of just making it plain to all politicians that when they visit the editorial board, it will be with the full understanding that the meeting will be taped and posted online. You know, taking advantage of all reporting tools to keep folks reading the Chronicle's site.

Four years ago, after candidate Brown's meeting was posted, political writer Marinucci said nothing about only taping endorsement meetings:

The Chronicle’s ed boards, hosted by editorial page editor John Diaz, invite the paper’s publisher, top editors and political reporters to sit in, and they are — unlike many papers — on-the-record events. We also now record these sessions for webcast so our readers can see what we see. And they’re all available for viewing on our home page.

We welcome your thoughts on whether you think the process is a good one — one which candidates should continue — or whether we need to improve it. Were we fair? Tough enough? On the mark with our questions? Feel free to weigh in.

Good questions, Carla. Tape and share all meetings in the future, please.

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