Letter from the BSN Publisher Sabatino to Publisher Riddick of The Modesto Bee
“Member of the Society of Professional Journalists”
It is not Back Story News’ mission to replace The Modesto Bee as your daily newspaper.
But, as a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, and publisher of the Back Story, it is my duty to adhere to the SPJ’s Code of Ethics to—“Expose unethical conduct in journalism, including within their (my) own organizations.” I promise to do so.
Therefore, Back Story News sees its mission in part to diligently remind The Bee to adhere to SPJ’s Code of Ethics so that they can become a trusted and respected source for reporting accurately and fairly to citizens.
In my opinion, The Bee seems to have chronically failed the SPJ Code of Ethics. It has woefully failed their own mission statement/ motto to the citizens of Modesto of “providing news and information that exceeds our customers’ expectations every day.”
The Bee seems to consistently fail the SPJ Code of Ethics to:
– Gather, update and correct information throughout the life of a news story.
– Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Give voice to the voiceless.
– Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
– Recognize a special obligation to serve as watchdogs over public affairs and government. Seek to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open, and that public records are open to all.
If you have any doubt as to what I say, I respectively request you ask your neighbor, co-worker, or any fellow citizen on the street their opinion of The Bee. I think you will find little argument with my opinion.
The Back Story News fills the Content Gaps
There is a considerable gap between what happens in and around our communities and what is reported by The Bee. The Back Story intends to fill that gap, and share its information freely with The Bee in a collaborative manner so that the information reaches the most citizens.
The Society of Professional Journalists and, of course, our founding father Benjamin Franklin (with his printing press) recognized there will always be individuals and groups that consider themselves untouchable.
In agreement with the SPJ and Franklin, I, as publisher of the Back Story News, believe that those individuals and groups, if unchallenged, are a danger to democracy and a free press.
The Back Story will inform the SPJ of non-adherence to the SPJ Code of Ethics by The Bee when and where it takes place if The Bee does not take corrective actions after it is brought to their attention.
It is my hope that The Bee recognizes that The Back Story’s mission is not an antagonistic one, but a constructive effort to make The Bee and Back Story News what we should both aspire to be for the benefit of our entire community.
In the spirit of cooperation and respect, a copy of this letter has been sent to Mr. Ken Riddick, Publisher and President of the Modesto Bee.
Carmen Sabatino/Publisher Back Story News/ Member of SPJ-Former Mayor of Modesto
Cc: Ken Riddick, Publisher and President, Joe Kieta, Editor, The Modesto Bee/McClatchy Newspapers