Be transparent

On July 8, a judge handed down a ruling for SN&R in its legal battle with Mayor Kevin Johnson over access to emails. For more on the ruling, read Nick Miller’s story “Free Press Prevails” on page 8.

It’s not just a big deal for us, it’s a big deal for First Amendment rights.

Numerous media outlets reported on the ruling. The Sacramento Bee did as well, but initially failed to acknowledge SN&R, even though we were a co-respondent in the case, along with the city of Sacramento.

Rather, for nearly four days the Bee omitted our name—which, in effect, served to frame the story in a way that implied the Bee had been the primary driving force behind the investigation.

Yes, the Bee also initially requested those emails—but it also backed down when asked to do so by the mayor’s legal team. Furthermore, it declined to join us as co-respondents in the case.

For the record, we invited them to do so. For the record, this paper, aided by the generous donations of our readers, has shouldered nearly $100,000 in legal fees.

On Monday, the Bee finally acknowledged SN&R’s role, adding a cryptic editor’s note at the end: “This story has been updated with more information about the lawsuit.”

That “additional” information has long been available, so what instigated the change? Pressure from readers? Unprofessionalism and petty rivalry?

For what it’s worth, I worked at the Bee for nine years and I still have the utmost respect for most of its newsroom staff—which only made the paper’s initial treatment of this story all the more disappointing.