Outright theft by the Tampa Tribune’s Laura Kinsler

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

At 10:06 a.m. last Friday, this website published the story titled “Mike Fasano, one of the loudest critics of Fla’s health care position, STILL EMPLOYED by hospital.

At the core of the story is that Fasano has a $54,000 annual contract with Florida Hospital Tampa.

When Fasano was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to be Pasco County Tax Collector, he said he would resign his part-time job once a successor was chosen, according to a report by Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times. Fasano did resign that position but was later asked to consult on local issues.

This scoop about Fasano isn’t earth-shattering, but it’s more than just a tempest in a teapot.

First of all, it’s an interesting reveal about one of the region’s most prominent politicians. Some might argue it reveals a level of hypocrisy that might ding Fasano’s enormous popularity. It’s also the kind of double-dipping story voters/readers love to hate.

This story also has a strong connection to the political story du jour of Florida politics: the budget stalemate caused by lawmakers’ disagreement about the best way to deliver healthcare.

In other words, it’s a pretty good scoop.

So good that several hours after our first report, the Tampa Tribune’s Laura Kinsler published, “Fasano, Pasco’s tax collector, works as consultant for Florida Hospital Tampa Bay.

Kindler’s story does not include so much as a single line of attribution to where the story first broke. And I know she does not have access to the source who first shared with me the information about Fasano. Bottom line, the SPB story is how she got to this story.

It’s important to recognize where and when stories originate. It’s perfectly fine to “re-report” a story as how the Tribune‘s rival, the Tampa Bay Times, describes it when it starts from scratch with its reporting after seeing a story matriculate on the blogosphere or social media. But newspapers are  doing themselves and their readers an intellectually dishonest service to omit how a story moved from social media to the public arena.

The Associated Press recognizes the importance of this and that’s why in 2010 it changed its policy to acknowledge bloggers as news sources.

The AP’s guidelines require that “If organization X breaks a story and we then match it through our own original reporting, we should say something like this: “The secret meeting in Paris was initially reported by X.” In instances where AP investigation has gone deeper than that of the original source, credit to that source is still necessary. If there were multiple sources giving matching stories, credit should go to the first consulted source.”

According to a source inside the Tribune, Kinsler did seek counsel from one of her editors about giving SaintPetersBlog attribution in this story, but that courtesy was nixed.

“We don’t tout TBT (Tampa Bay Times) when we chase their scoops w/own reporting either,” my Trib source told me.

Unfortunately, this is still the state of contemporary journalism. A legacy reporter passing off a scoop as her own. It’s not plagiarism, but it still sucks.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.