Two embarrassing pictures of local politicians on trips with undercover FBI agents were treated differently by the Gannett owned Tallahassee Democrat.
The picture of City Commissioner Scott Maddox in Las Vegas with FBI agents and a midget stripper was published in its entirety on the front page of the Tallahassee Democrat on September 21, 2017 for all to see.
What followed were months of jokes, zingers and public humiliation for Mr. Maddox and his family.
In contrast, a picture of Mayor Andrew Gillum – which sources say could be embarrassing to Gillum – in New York City with Adam Corey and undercover FBI agents was cropped and placed on page 5A on January 18, 2018 after a negotiation which resulted in some level of cover for Mr. Gillum, in an otherwise sensitive situation.
Shouldn’t sensitivity be a two-way street?
The Maddox picture could have easily been cropped to leave out the “dwarf entertainer” -which has very little news value – and still included the FBI undercover agents, Maddox, and J.T. Burnette – a city vendor and figure in the FBI investigation.
However, it was not.
The inconsistent actions by the Tallahassee Democrat seems to be in violation of several of the “Principles of Ethical Conduct for Gannett journalists” as outlined by the parent company.
The Gannett “Principles” state, in part, that:
We will be honest in the way we gather, report and present news — with relevancy, persistence, context, thoroughness, balance and fairness in mind.
We will explain to audiences our journalistic processes to promote transparency and engagement.
We will maintain an impartial, arm’s-length relationship with anyone seeking to influence the news.
We will not alter photos, video or audio to misrepresent events or mislead audiences.
It is time for the leadership at the Tallahassee Democrat to explain the “journalistic process” that lead to an altered photo for one local politician and humiliation for another.