Is the SN&R story on Target’s alleged discrimination on target?

It all started with a “Letter to the Editor” to the Sacramento News & Review and then the proverbial you-know-what hit the fan! Suddenly I found myself receiving a reply from the writer of the piece defending himself, which led to another email and another, etc.

Jeffery Cassity <jcassity05@gmail.com> Sat, Jul 20, 2013 at 8:54 PM

To: sactoletters@newsreview.com

SN&R Letter to the Editor

Re “Off the mark: Three former Target employees…” by Dave Kempa(SN&R News, July 18):

As with most major news stories that the Sacramento News & Review writes, this story about the alleged discrimination at the Target warehouse in Woodland, California falls short of hitting the bull’s eye(dar en el blanco) on several accounts. While it presents the surface story very well, it falls short of the mark on the underlying details at a level that makes one question the ability of the writer and the editor(s) assigned to his piece.

If one really wants to get the full story, it would behoove one to go to the story on Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/18/target-diversity-document_n_3618200.html) to get the full story.

Mr. Kempa and the editors of SN&R really should print a full apology to their readers, both in the next print edition and online, for their journalistic malpractice!

Jeffery Cassity

Sacramento)

Dave Kempa <davek@newsreview.com> Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 10:53 AM

To: jcassity05@gmail.com

Hey Jeff,

As is often the case with your letters, you mean well but miss the mark.

The story you’ve linked refers to a corporate-wide document on dealing with workplace diversity issues–the sort of document that EVERY large corporation has on file. This isn’t to be confused with
the document acquired by the Woodland plaintiffs (which, according to Target, was only distributed at that particular warehouse).

Here’s another article (written by the same HuffPo contributor) on the document I reference in my piece: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/09/target-multicultural-tips_n_3566873.html

The document in the link you sent me wasn’t salient to the lawsuit, so I didn’t include it in my story.

Cheers,

Dave

P.S. – your use of the term “journalistic malpractice” is both telling an(d) amusing.

Dave Kempa

Staff Writer

Sacramento News & Review

Work: 916.498.1234 x1359

Cell: 920.246.0210

Jeffery Cassity <jcassity05@gmail.com> Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 6:53 PM

To: Dave Kempa <davek@newsreview.com>

Not telling half the story isn’t relevant, not putting the document in question into context as well as looking at Target’s diversity awareness program isn’t relevant. I have been in town just two months but I have learned that as much as I may like your publication and would love to write free lance articles for it, I probably would be out of place since I like telling the whole story when I write articles not the 1/2 or less that most writers for your publication are allowed to get away with.

Best regards,

Jeff C

[Quoted text hidden]

Dave Kempa <davek@newsreview.com> Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 8:02 PM

To: Jeffery Cassity <jcassity05@gmail.com>

It’s called news judgment, Jeff. Target’s corporate-level policy isn’t in question here. The treatment and termination of the plaintiffs at the Woodland distribution center is the story, and the document distributed at that location is a part of that story. If you want to blog about Target’s corporate training manuals, knock yourself out. I’ve got better things to do with my time.

Cheers,

Dave

[Quoted text hidden]

Jeffery Cassity <jcassity05@gmail.com> Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 8:21 PM

To: Dave Kempa <davek@newsreview.com>

You are right. It is a waste of time to see if the evidence shows if even the documents in question are discriminatory or taken out of context by an attorney with possibly willing clients. Newspapers and their writers should never let the whole truth get in the way of a good story, right?

[Quoted text hidden]

Dave Kempa <davek@newsreview.com> Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 9:09 PM

To: Jeffery Cassity <jcassity05@gmail.com>

Oh dear, I’m not sure how many times I need to explain this, Jeff. They’re different documents–one corporate, the other, so far as we can tell, local. Perhaps understanding what’s salient to a story just isn’t your strong suit. Sadly, I’d hoped a fellow Wisconsinite would be able to follow. There is a solution to this, Jeff: Write. Write to your heart’s content. Show the world all there is to know about Target’s corporate policies! Don’t leave anything out! Dissect the corporate handbook, page by page, until we get to the very bottom of things, until we answer all mysteries related to and not related to Target Corporation. I want the ontological, Jeff, the teleological. If a tree falls on a target, do we need to tell HR? What aisle is the bleach on? Is this lane open??Looking forward to your work. Feel free to send links.

Cheers,

Dave

[Quoted text hidden]

Jeffery Cassity <jcassity05@gmail.com> Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 10:33 PM

To: Dave Kempa <davek@newsreview.com>

I welcome the challenge and will have it to you by next week.

[Quoted text hidden]

As I sit down to write this article, I realize the one of the biggest problems with the Target article by Dave Kempa is that he relies on a storyfrom the Huffington Post which summarizes the plaintiff’s claim in their lawsuit without actually taking the time to pull a copy of the lawsuit(a publicly available document which would include a copy of the allegedly discriminatory document). Since the litigation is local, he should not have a problem doing this, yet he doesn’t seem to have done that nor made a copy of the actual document available for readers of SN&R to see in print or online. He instead relies on a third party report of the summary offered by a party to the litigation who has a vested financial interest in the outcome of the trial. I would suggest some reading material to Dave for review: the NYU Journalism Handbookfor Students.

If Dave had taken the time to get a copy of the original document, the readers obviously would have been able to see the context of the quoted comments from it. Sometimes, the contextof the words is as important as the actual words themselves as I outlined in an article recently on the Being Latino! Online Magazine.

Also as a professional journalist, I was surprised that Dave so easily dismissed the Target corporate documents in the Huffington Post article I referenced in my original Letter to the Editor as irrelevant to the story. They are hardly that. As any good lawyer could tell him, including the lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case hopefully, these documents show that Target as a corporation is committed to tolerance and diversity in the workplace. These documents have significant legal value in Target’s defense of the lawsuit. It is obvious from the tone of Mr. Kempa’s article that he has a certain agenda in writing his story. It is clear that he failed in his duty as a journalist to offer a fair and full view of each side of the case. Instead, he had the goal of presenting company=bad, guilty, racist, etc. Perhaps if he had the benefit of reading another piece I did for Being Latino! on a similar Colorado case, he would have been able to do a better job.

Sadly, the only conclusion I can reach based on the failure of his editors to catch these issues is the same one that I raised in my letter: Mr. Kempa and the editors of SN&R really should print a full apology to their readers, both in the next print edition and online, for their journalistic malpractice!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: