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Posts Tagged ‘Jacquie Kubin’

Solomon: TWT Axed ‘Communities’ Because of False Story, Lax Editing

The Washington Times Editor John Solomon has told FishbowlDC that his paper split with Communities Digital News, the company that managed and edited the “Washington Times Communities” social journalism page, because of its history of inaccurate reporting.

After a handful of instances, some pre-dating Solomon’s arrival, in which there were questions of accuracy about certain posts, the last straw was an erroneous story posted to the “Communities” page by contributor Michael Lotfi on January 9th.  In that story, Lotfi reported that Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) voted in the 2012 Democratic primary. This was, in fact, false, and the story was eventually disproved by local officials in Tennessee and by Alexander’s staff.

TWT eventually took it off the website and replaced it with a correction saying that the false information had been “based on a document provided by a third-party data aggregator,” and that “Washington Times Communities has not been able to independently verify the document.”

“The basic p’s and q’s of journalism had not been followed” with regard to that story, Solomon told us. “The author hadn’t checked the authenticity of the document on his own or sought out fair comment.”

That led him to “put a pause” on the “Communities” page’s activities as he conducted a review of the relationship with Communities Digital News. That review found that oversights in the reporting had not been caught in the editing process, and that even after the accuracy problems were identified, the proper steps weren’t taken to correct the record.

“That is what concerned us. We wanted to protect the integrity of the journalism process. So we decided to bring the editing in house,” Solomon said. “We don’t want inaccurate posts on our website -even from outsiders -especially if it could have been prevented before hand.”

But Communities Digital News Editor Jacquie Kubin, who officially launched a new stand-alone site on January 13th, says the breakup with TWT was in the works before the Lotfi story ever ran.

“The story was unrelated to our continuing relationship with the Times,” she told us in an email. “Communities Digital News, LLC had been discussing the business relationship with the Times for some time.”

Solomon pushed back on that idea.

“Any suggestion that it had to do with negotiations, compensation, is dispositively false,” he said. “It was really a matter of journalism integrity.”

Solomon says that plans are on track to re-launch the “Washington Times Communities” page in the next few weeks -this time with new contributors who will be edited directly by TWT staffers.

 

Editors note: This post was updated Feb 8th at 12:44 PM to more clearly reflect comments made to FishbowlDC by John Solomon.

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Communities Digital News Splits Off from TWT

We reported earlier this month that The Washington Times was planning on dumping its “Communities” page, much to the chagrin of Communities Editor Jacquie Kubin. Well now it’s official. In a press release today, Kubin announced that the old “Washington Times Communities” page was splitting off to form its own entity called Communities Digital News, or CommDigiNews.com.

From the press release:

The decision by Communities management to end its relationship with the Washington Times is two-fold.

First, it allows Communities Digital News to broaden its editorial voice and become more inclusive of a wide variety of political and social viewpoints, covering all aspects of any given event or story without restraint.

Second, it allows Communities Digital News more business independence and flexibility, allowing for greater reader and revenue growth including syndication.

The Washington Times Communities page is still up, but it seems no content has been updated there since January 9th. The move comes a day after AOL Patch, a social news service similarly fueled by cheap or free content from community writers, axed up to two-thirds of its employees.

See the whole statement from Comm Digi News after the jump…

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‘Washington Times Communities’ In Crisis

The Washington Times is dumping its “Communities” page, causing “Communities” editor Jacquie Kubin to start a mad dash to move all the content located there to a new site. In emails to “Communities” contributors obtained by FishbowlDC, a frantic Kubin details her fraught relationship with TWT and her efforts to wrest control of the “Communities” content away from the paper.

“The Chines [sic] symbols for crisis are ‘danger” and “opportunity,’” Kubin says in one email. “Working with TWT has always been a challenge.  They are a client, but have always felt they were a parent.  Things are changing: What we have in front of us is opportunity. And I like opportunity.”

The “Washington Times Communities” page is a collaboration between TWT and a company started by Kubin in 2009 called Communities Digital News. The result is a platform designed to allow citizen-journalists to write columns on a wide range of issues hosted at The Washington Times website. “Communities” columns are not actually edited by TWT staff, but rather by Kubin herself, who has a contractual relationship with TWT.

That relationship, however, is changing -though it is unclear what is actually happening. On January 10th, Kubin seemed to think that TWT was going to maintain connections with Communities Digital News, though she insinuates that trouble is brewing:

TWT, as they always have, is trying to dictate our business and business model.   Will we be severing ties?  No.  Will who and what we are at TWT change.  Yes.

But two days later, on January 12, the situation was already spiraling out of control:

The following information is not for dissemination or sharing with any other person and is intended only for the recipiet [sic] Things are changing quickly… And though I am trying to salvage what I may, lets be prepared for a worst case scenario Please go to Communities (communites.washingtontimes.com) and make sure you take screen shots of any stories that you wish to keep copies of… Please do not correspond with editors, or me, via the communities email addresses.  Please use addresses as listed above. We are moving to our own website; and this is good.  TWT now takes 60-75% of ever dollar we make.  That in and of itself is good reason to move.

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