At the New York Times you get banned from commenting if you threaten violence. Here in Tallahassee, it appears a “business decision” can get you banned from Tallahassee.com
If you tuned into 100.7 WFLA this morning you heard Preston Scott, the host of the Morning Show with Preston Scott, tell his audience that the publisher of the Tallahassee Democrat, Skip Foster, banned him from posting comments on Tallahassee.com.
Foster informed Scott by writing in an email, “We are going to permanently ban you from commenting on our site. I say “we” but really, it’s me.”
Foster, who has been the publisher of the Gannett owned Tallahassee Democrat for just under two years, went on to explain his decision in a 380 word email.
I understand the role you play in this community and don’t begrudge it one bit. Everybody has their “schtick” – yours is to be one of the conservative talk show hosts in town. You have chosen to align with Tallahassee Reports, presumably for ideological and/or business reasons. I’m fine with that.
Foster went on to minimize Mr. Scott’s show, which recently expanded to the Panama City market, and took a shot at Tallahassee Reports:
I’m privy to the same data (Scarborough, Nielsen, Comscore, etc.) you undoubtedly see, so I’m aware of the size of your audience and where you rank among radio stations in this market. Armed with data, I can say that it really doesn’t matter to me what you say about the Democrat and Tallahassee.com on your show or what Steve Stewart says on his web site.
And then Foster got to the heart of the issue by saying “what you are NOT free to do, is to promote other information sources on our site, which you have done.”
This is the part of Foster’s email that is confusing.
TR reviewed the last 14 comments posted by Mr. Scott since August 1st. The comments made by Scott were focused on his opinion of issues and/or citing additional facts related to stories. Not one comment promoted other information sources as Mr. Foster implies.
Samples of the Mr. Scott’s comments are shown below:
Clark: Is Henry going to wind up just another cautionary tale?
Great column, Corey.
TPD, LCSO report drop in violent crime
Karl…who said the funding came from the property tax increase, the City? That’s nonsense. That’s what the City wanted you to report. The funding came from a decision to better fund police. They could have funded it anytime staff and Commissioners wanted to fund it properly. They have hundreds of millions in revenue streams. It is a primary function of government to provide for the safety of citizens and should be a first priority. Do you guys ever question a thing?
Tallahassee ranked No. 6 ‘Best College Town’
I wish it were true. Amazing how there can be so many great opportunities when the community has lost jobs according to state numbers (more than 3,000 in the last three months), there are 500 fewer businesses than there were five years ago, we have the highest violent crime rate in the state, and Tallahassee leads the nation in income disparity. Of course, these facts – easily obtainable would tarnish the story a little, thus the reporter likely chose obligated to not include them, if he even bothered to look. This paper is so in the tank for City leadership it is nauseating.
A tale of two Nancys
That this is a story is hilarious. Sen. Montford always takes anyone who runs against him “seriously.” You have to wonder with reporters, repeat reporters not columnists, calling winners in local races (didn’t Skip Foster pledge the Democrat would no longer offer endorsements) it is clear the Democrat is all in for insiders.
Hougland calls on Richardson to return vendor contributions
Isn’t this the exact same issue where the Democrat excoriated LCS Superintendent Jackie Pons? Accepting donations from vendors who do work for the school system? Of course, the obvious difference is Pons has no vote in the school projects – the school board does. I would think we see much, much more of this story if the Democrat is consistent.
So why the ban?
Mr. Scott’s last comment, about two days ago, addressed an article about “geo-fencing” and hit the Tallahassee Democrat hard on business practices.
“The decline continues. Last time it was the Demmy’s…oops, whatever they were called where businesses had to pay money to be listed on the ballot. This just in: The Democrat must be desperate for cash and it is no wonder with the reporting which has not been going. Good reports leave because “the community” (ie: Insiders) meddle in what gets covered or published. As Brian properly notes below – this is flat wrong.”
Another comment posted by a different reader also took the Democrat to task over the same article :
“I question the integrity of the Democrat for publishing such an advertisement meant to look like it was objective reporting. It is basically advertising for advertising with Democrat staff renamed as Tallahassee Media Group. Why not mention salesforce.com and simpli.fi as well as other geofencing services? Misleading has become the new “reporting”.”
The article, written by Leslie Smith, the Tallahassee Democrat’s Marketing Director, addressed the Democrat’s roll out of a marketing product call geo-fencing.
The article detailed how the Tallahassee Democrat could “geo-fence” a business competitor for a fee and report back to their client with information about people visiting their competitors by using tracking technology. This type of marketing service is extremely controversial and as the article pointed out it was “Big Brother-ish.” We will have more on the practice in a future report.
Was Mr. Foster offended by the harsh review of the Tallahassee Democrat business practices? Was this the comment that got Scott banned?
Mr. Scott does not know and Mr. Foster did not provide any additional insight when queried.
Mr. Foster took one last shot at Scott’s show by saying “as a competitor (albeit a very minor one) I’m not going to allow you to use our much, much, much larger platform to consistently attack us.”
And he closed with “Preston, I hold no ill will toward you at all – this is strictly a business decision.”
The “business decision” closing is again confusing given prior comments. However, whatever his reason, one thing is clear, Mr. Foster, the publisher of the Gannett owned Tallahassee Democrat banned a dissenting view from the pages of the paper of record in the state capital of the third largest state.
Disclosure: Tallahassee Reports has a business relationship with two local radio stations that include WFLA 100.7 and Freedom 93.3.