Thursday, January 12, 2006

Feel the love

Here's an exchange between Elizabeth Prata and Pam Wilkinson that took place near the end of Pam's term as council chair in 2005. The subject was Prata's "exclusive" letters-to-the-editor policy. Earlier, Pam had submitted a letter to both the Gray News and The Monument explaining the budget proposal scheduled for consideration at an upcoming town meeting. Pam felt the information needed to reach as many people as possible before that event. But because the letter wasn't exclusive, Prata refused to publish it.

What's notable, of course, isn't Prata's exclusivity policy but the snarling tone of her reply to Pam -- a tone that characterizes almost all of Prata's personal communications with anyone on her long list of perceived enemies. Not only does such venom clearly demonstrate Prata's lack of objectivity, it reveals a profoundly angry, judgmental personality that shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the opinion business.

This is the very end of an exchange that also included a note from Mitch Berkowitz asking Prata to suspend her exclusivity policy this one time as a matter of public interest:
Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2005 5:39 PM
To: Pam Wilkinson
Subject: RE: Letter to Editor

If you feel that it is an injustice for me to adhere to business policy just so that you can continue your laxity in looking up policy, "figure out timing" or write an opinion a week earlier, then I think it is good that you leave the service of the people of the town of Gray.

If you are not willing to go to that small a length to see that your budget passes or to confer your opinion to the people of Gray for your constituents then I am disappointed in you as Chair. And as you said in your letter, you want people to study a complicated budget, come to endless workshops, and make an informed decision at a hot meeting on a sunny Saturday...and yet the upshot is, as you mentioned below, you are too lazy to look up a policy or create time to write a second letter...Again...sad.


[Previous note from Pam]
I do not expect any rules to be broken and never asked them to be broken. I asked Mitch to provide details to the public; which was done. My comments, you are correct, are comments. I do not have time to write two articles and try to figure the grid of timing that you require to appease a policy and standard which you have implemented that I feel is an injustice to the public you devotionally serve. That again is my comment.

Warm regards,
Pam Wilkinson

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Prata fails to check her facts

Sadly, I must once again share room in the journalistic world with a self-proclaimed journalist who cannot check the simplest of facts.

While I spent several years working for a small daily (5,200 circulation) in Connecticut, under the strict oversight of an experienced editor, Prata simply hung out her shingle one day and declared herself a journalist. Her lack of education in the field, and her lack of experience, clearly shows. Here is our exchange.


From: Nathan Tsukroff []
Sent: Sunday, January 08, 2006 10:58 AM
To: 'The Monument Newspaper'
Subject: RE: new code of ethics


You are mistaken once again.

Please note the copyright notice at the bottom - 2004. This is the same code of ethics that I read years ago. Had you bothered to ask, you would know that I look to this code for guidance in my photographic work.

You would do well to choose a code of ethics for yourself. Sadly, you have failed to follow the code of ethics presented by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Nathan Tsukroff

-----Original Message-----
From: The Monument Newspaper []
Sent: Sunday, January 08, 2006 10:22 AM
Subject: new code of ethics

Here is the NPPA's new Code of Ethics for photographers: After reading it, I realized there are some things within it you do not know. They are worth following. If you can.


The National Press Photographers Association sets forth the following Code of Ethics:

Code of Ethics
Photojournalists and those who manage visual news productions are accountable for upholding the following standards in their daily work:

1. Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects.
2. Resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.
3. Be complete and provide context when photographing or recording subjects. Avoid stereotyping individuals and groups. Recognize and work to avoid presenting one's own biases in the work.
4. Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy. Intrude on private moments of grief only when the public has an overriding and justifiable need to see.
5. While photographing subjects do not intentionally contribute to, alter, or seek to alter or influence events.
6. Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images' content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.
7. Do not pay sources or subjects or reward them materially for information or participation.
8. Do not accept gifts, favors, or compensation from those who might seek to influence coverage.
9. Do not intentionally sabotage the efforts of other journalists.

Ideally, photojournalists should:
1. Strive to ensure that the public's business is conducted in public. Defend the rights of access for all journalists.
2. Think proactively, as a student of psychology, sociology, politics and art to develop a unique vision and presentation. Work with a voracious appetite for current events and contemporary visual media.
3. Strive for total and unrestricted access to subjects, recommend alternatives to shallow or rushed opportunities, seek a diversity of viewpoints, and work to show unpopular or unnoticed points of view.
4. Avoid political, civic and business involvements or other employment that compromise or give the appearance of compromising one's own journalistic independence.
5. Strive to be unobtrusive and humble in dealing with subjects.
6. Respect the integrity of the photographic moment.
7. Strive by example and influence to maintain the spirit and high standards expressed in this code. When confronted with situations in which the proper action is not clear, seek the counsel of those who exhibit the highest standards of the profession. Photojournalists should continuously study their craft and the ethics that guide it.

© 2004 The National Press Photographers Association, Inc.

Elizabeth Prata
The Monument Newspaper