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August 13, 2006

Comments

braingirl

Holladay's blog is one of the more unprofessional displays by a current or former journalist or columnist I've ever seen. "Exploitation" is increasingly becoming the right word for what she's doing regarding Tolbert's death. I was never a huge fan of her columns, and sadly, as a person she comes off as nothing but a sad, bitter person especially with regards to her former employer.

Doug Karr

I'm not so sure that I am in full agreement with your post. If you substitute 'former employer' or 'The Star' with another large employer (say, Conseco or Lilly), we would hope that a journalist investigating would have the same tenacity in finding the truth that Ruth has had. Bravo to Ruth for also posting the responses and emails that have been distributed. I have yet to see the same come from the very company Ruth is grilling.

As a former employee of The Star, I can only attest that the requirement to not dial 911 was a contested one in our management classes.

I commented on Ruth's blog that I didn't feel that the people at The Star deserved any blame - but when an employee drops dead and confusion follows, the policies involved MUST be questioned. It's the least that an employer can do.

Respectfully,
Doug

Zach Wendling

Dear Mr. Karr,

I'm shocked that anyone would hold Holladay's sloppy, inaccurate accusations against her former employer as some sort of model in reporting.

As for the propriety of her rooting around for the 'truth,' someone needs to answer the following questions:

1. Did her blogging prompt the IOSHA investigation?
2. Did her blogging prompt internal reforms at the Star regarding safety protocols?
3. Did her blogging reveal negligence on the part of the Star management?

ruth holladay

I stand by my reporting on the death of Mpozi Tolbert and inherent problems at the Star regarding its lousy safety protocols.
The issue was not raised by me initially -- I was not there, having retired 3 days earlier. The problems were detailed by some of those in the newsroom that night. The concerns included everything I've already posted -- editors unable to get thru to 911 quickly, the need to run downstairs to locate a security guard to make the call and the subsequent problems with that, lack of AEDs on the floor or in the building and no CPR training offered by the paper to its staff. Oh, and the blocked freight elevator.
I attended the memorial service for Mpozi, and a number of Star staffers present were discussing the problems that occured that night.
I used my blog to bring this topic to light -- although it was already inhouse with the Guild, which immediately began asking questions in writing of HR. I also broke the news outside the building that IOSHA had launched an investigation. As I said, this is not stuff you would read about in the paper. Gee, did you ever wonder why the Star wouldn't report on the IOSHA investigation? Maybe they have something to hide?
I am frankly amazed that anybody would settle for any less than questioning the process and demanding improvements. But maybe it's easier (or more fun) to criticize me behind your cover and keep the sheep mentality going.
That, however, doesn't serve a free press very well, does it Zach? But you obviously don't care about that. So you stick to the Star, and I'll take care of asking the tough questions.

ruth holladay

I stand by my reporting on the death of Mpozi Tolbert and inherent problems at the Star regarding its lousy safety protocols.
The issue was not raised by me initially -- I was not there, having retired 3 days earlier. The problems were detailed by some of those in the newsroom that night. The concerns included everything I've already posted -- editors unable to get thru to 911 quickly, the need to run downstairs to locate a security guard to make the call and the subsequent problems with that, lack of AEDs on the floor or in the building and no CPR training offered by the paper to its staff. Oh, and the blocked freight elevator.
I attended the memorial service for Mpozi, and a number of Star staffers present were discussing the problems that occured that night.
I used my blog to bring this topic to light -- although it was already inhouse with the Guild, which immediately began asking questions in writing of HR. I also broke the news outside the building that IOSHA had launched an investigation. As I said, this is not stuff you would read about in the paper. Gee, did you ever wonder why the Star wouldn't report on the IOSHA investigation? Maybe they have something to hide?
I am frankly amazed that anybody would settle for any less than questioning the process and demanding improvements. But maybe it's easier (or more fun) to criticize me behind your cover and keep the sheep mentality going.
That, however, doesn't serve a free press very well, does it Zach? But you obviously don't care about that. So you stick to the Star, and I'll take care of asking the tough questions.

Zach Wendling

There are two issues here. First, the propriety of reporting on the circumstances of Tolbert's death. On this point, I'd say that yes, it is a valid story, and Ruth deserves credit for some of her later reporting and even for introducing the subject to the blogosphere.

Second, there is the motivation for her reporting. Her initial post on the matter strongly suggests that she was using the death as a club to beat her former employer, against whom she harbors ill will. And I think this motivation is what prompted her inaccurate and, ultimately, offensive reporting.

A secondary motivation would be to actually improve safety at the Star, which I think will be taken care of by IOSHA, the Guild,and the Star itself. (We now know that CPR training and defibs were ordered before Tolbert's death.)

And as for a committment to a free press, I suppose you'll have to explain to me why my reading over 60 blogs a day in the search for the best of citizen journalism makes me an opponent of free speech.

Doug Karr

Zach,

My apologies for not responding sooner, I just read your response. I do respect your view, and I recognize your questioning of Ruth's motives. The only response I have is that all of it is for the good. The fact that we continue to debate the death of Mr. Tolbert and The Star's working conditions can not be a bad thing.

The more this situation is scrutinized, the better the process will be when the next person has an emergency in that building. Mr. Tolbert's death should not be in vain.

I'll state again that the irony here is that it happened at The Star and the Star isn't reporting on it. If it had happened at ANY other company, it would be HUGE news.

Do you remember how much coverage there was in The Star when the football players died from heat stroke? Search "death heat stroke football" in the Star Archives... you'll find dozens of stories. Why is the Star exempt from this scrutiny?

Respectfully,
Doug

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