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With the soaring activity on LCTMag.com in recent years has come a growing appetite for more industry news and information. The world of instant news, e-newsletters and constant linking and posting, however, doesn’t avoid some of the constant challenges and questions of publishing news, no matter what the format. Those nagging debates about the relevance of some print content extend and persist throughout the digital media realm.
I’m posing two situations that arose at LCT last month, bound to come up again and confound even the most experienced editors. After six years as editor of this magazine, I have found that the more I get to know this industry, the tougher some of these judgment calls become.
First situation: Federal authorities abruptly shut down a limousine operation on New Year’s Eve over alleged multiple safety violations. A local newspaper reports the shutdown in detail, giving the limo operator ample opportunity to comment. The case looks suspect, as there are reasonable questions as to whether the shutdown was vindictive overkill by authorities.
Second situation: A left-wing website, acting like a mainstream media source, reports on a group of chauffeurs who have filed a federal lawsuit against their employer, a large chauffeured transportation company, alleging they have been cheated out of wages. In this article, the owning operator declined to answer questions right away, and then did not return follow-up phone calls. What’s more, a federal judge recently ruled that the original complaint wouldn’t hold up as a collective lawsuit, so a group of chauffeurs re-filed individual lawsuits.
Should LCT link to these articles in its mix of aggregated e-news content — one or the other or both or none?
As much as I’d like to say I can coolly answer such questions with ease, the truth is I have made good use of our magazine advisory board members. Sometimes I call or email in a semi-panic on deadline: “What do you think? Should we run such item? How would operators perceive it — as a helpful FYI item or offensive, anti-industry material? Do operators need to know about this?”
In my previous career in mainstream media, the answers were simpler: Report the story as factual and fairly as possible, show you contacted both sides for comment, and do your best before deadline. Then, let the chips fall where they may and follow up if needed. No emotions, nothing personal.