Thursday, July 16, 2015

Badge of honor: Troubled sheriff’s department in Montana accuses reporter of being too aggressive

A reporter for the Missoulian is being accused of being too aggressive by the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department for her coverage of local cops and courts in western Montana, notes semi-retired Jim Romenesko on his blog. Sheriff's department Public Information Officer Brenda Bassett claims reporter Kate Haake "has misquoted her colleagues, and 'often fails to give us adequate times to respond to her inquiries and/or will try to contact multiple people within our office in an attempt to get more information than what she can legally be given. In the past, she was been quite successful at it.'"

Kate Haake
"Bassett, a former TV reporter, claims in a memo that she’s struck a deal with Missoulian management that prohibits Haake from contacting sheriff’s office employees by phone" and that she has to send all questions via email to Bassett, Romenesko writes.

That’s news to Missoulian editor Sherry Devlin, who told Romenesko:
The Missoulian has no such arrangement or agreement with the sheriff’s office.

They have made that demand and have attempted to have Kate removed from the beat because she asks questions that go beyond TV soundbites, and has covered both the sheriff’s critics as well as his supporters.

She remains our police and courts reporter and has my full support. Her stories have been and are fair, balanced and accurate. I have at no time agreed to their demands.

The problem is that there is a longstanding division in the sheriff’s department that has resulted in numerous lawsuits and human rights complaints between members of the department.

Our newspaper has aggressively covered those lawsuits and the controversy and its implications for law enforcement in Missoula.

Now the sheriff and his detractors within the department want to export their drama to the Missoulian and to discredit our reporter and newspaper. It is not going to work. We will continue moving forward with good solid journalism.

No comments: