So…you wake up on Sunday morning and see a headline in the local paper about the recently revealed FBI investigation. You’re anxious because your name was in the FBI subpoenas recently dropped at city hall, so you expect the worst.
You read the story and find your name is mentioned seven times in connection with relationships between local insiders. You think to yourself, “not bad, maybe a little gossipy, but hey, it comes with the territory.”
Then you turn the page and find your picture next to the picture of a convicted felon.
After you spill your coffee looking for the cell phone number of Democrat publisher Skip Foster, you probably begin to feel like the Tallahassee Democrat is out to get you!
This could be how local business owner Kim Rivers feels today.
In an article in the Sunday Tallahassee Democrat, reporter Jeff Schweers documented the web of relationships between Adam Corey and a number of local insiders. Included next to the article, in the well circulated Sunday edition of the Tallahassee Democrat, was a picture of Anthony Murgio, a convicted felon, next to a picture of local business owner Kim Rivers.
The pictures of Murgio and Rivers were included with no context and seemed out of place. In fact, I read the article three times and there was no mention of Murgio in a paragraph with Rivers.
What the article did say was “Anthony Murgio was just sentenced to five and a half years in federal prison for his role in a bitcoin scam and cyber attack on J.P. Morgan Chase Bank.”
Murgio is a previous business partner of Adam Corey, not Kim Rivers.
Now, I know I am biased, but if Tallahassee Reports had published this picture we would have been fairly criticized for sensationalism and trying to tarnish someones reputation.
Tallahassee Reports publishes findings supported by documents and facts in the public record. There are no publicly available documents that reasonably tie any questionable activities to a relationship between Murgio and Rivers. Therefore, I can say, with high confidence, TR would have never published this picture.
So why did the Democrat include this picture in their Sunday edition?
The problem is the Tallahassee Democrat is trying to make-up for lost ground by throwing a lot of ink at people and relationships now that the FBI is investigating. This is not good journalism and ultimately will not be good for Tallahassee.
In my view, the FBI investigation, in addition to determining if local leaders were involved with corrupt activities, is going to reveal that Tallahassee has not been well served by a complacent Gannett owned paper that is more concerned about corporate profits than the journalistic needs of our local democracy.
One final point.
I believe it is important that local government as well as the local media, both powerful institutions, are held accountable for their actions. I can tell you, from personal and professional experience, that well thought out criticism can have a positive impact on future actions.