Just doing our job

Opinion: Columns

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By Jill Wagner

Occasionally, there is a commenter who says something that just resonates with me.  A few months ago it was a commenter on Facebook, Tommy Barnes. 

His note appeared under the first announcement that Forest Park Review was on a fact-checking mission. Under the Review's request for readers to submit fliers for fact checking with an image of a fish bowl filled with smearing fliers from elections past, commenter, Tommy Barnes replied, "Ummm...So, like, do your job?" 

Yup. Just another day in the life of the Review.

This past election the Review co-hosted six sets of candidate forums (for four public boards), reported on nine public forums, hosted six private endorsement interview sessions, managed questionnaires and statements from 25 candidates, stationed reporters and photographers at several locations on election night, and staffed our offices with journalists, technical support, design support and editors to get election summaries out for readers after the polls closed.  

During the election months we had reporters at every Village Council meeting, School Board meeting, reported on community news, business changes, community highs and lows and special interest stories. Just doing our job, and reporting on the Village of Forest Park week by week.   

We are among thousands of local media outlets in our nation just doing our jobs. In Illinois, there are just under 500 local news agencies that are a part of the Illinois Press Association, which is less than half as many as there were in the 1880s. The political history of Illinois can be traced to newspapers throughout the state, which included Abraham Lincoln's German language newspaper, Illinois Staatsanzeiger, (google translated to Illinois State Scoreboard) and Forest Park Mayor, Henry Kaul's German Newspaper Schleswig-Holstein (likely named from the northernmost state in Germany).  

Today, Illinois newspapers still maintain names that reflect original political positions, method of delivery or mission of the founders, with names like Quincy Herald-Whig or Chicago Defender or Bureau County Republican or Mason County Democrat or The Gazette-Democrat or The Leader Union or The Henderson County Quill or The Register Mail.    

So when the Illinois Press Association selected the Forest Park Review and our sister newspapers with generous lists of honors and accolades, including honors for our work in "fact checking fliers," we were appreciative and honored to be recognized, but in the end, we were just doing our job.

Fact-checking was dependent on citizens submitting materials. Community leaders, experts, candidates and others just were answering questions on your behalf. Those that took the time to answer were just doing their jobs too.   

So kudos to everyone who just does what is expected of them.  

As our political landscape shifts in Forest Park, the Forest Park Review will be here, just as it has for over 100 years, reporting on the week's news, attending meetings, sharing stories, asking questions, documenting exchanges, writing when there is no answer, and following our public interests, because we are just doing our job.

Screenshot of Facebook comment added to article announcing Review's fact-checking initiative to clear up any reader confusion. 

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Reader Comments

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Matthew Corrado from Forest Park  

Posted: April 22nd, 2019 1:41 PM

Interesting Article. I didn't realize there were any, no I didn't realize there were so many, can we call them rent a cops? Not a bad thing especially until you start seeing the incidents because any incident involving injury to a resident is too many. It makes we wonder what they are allowed to do and not do. The complete list. Can they ticket cars? Seems like ticketing people as they try to run me over on Madison in the morning might raise some money for the village since everyone else so busy. And It seems like hiring them for events makes perfect sense and the rate for that kind of work is appropriate. But armed? I don't know. Crazy thought but what if there were more of them, all local residents, unarmed just roving our streets with walkies, cameras and ticket books and less armed cops who don't live here?

Jill Wagner  

Posted: April 22nd, 2019 11:26 AM

The comment was made on a Facebook post from the Forest Park Review August 24, 2018 %uFFFD Quote is exactly: Tommy Barnes: Ummm...So, like, do your job? Thanks for checking.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: April 22nd, 2019 10:11 AM

"Admonish this." Now ain't you the pithy street wise type, Tommy. I feel so, so put down. I'll say it again, the paper was simply asking people to bring political flyers to their attention. They never asked for anyone to do their job and fact check. But if you acknowledged that, you'd have nothing to blather on about, would you?

Tommy Barnes  

Posted: April 22nd, 2019 1:27 AM

Found it. Article titled, "That is not politics as usual". Written by Nona Tepper The opening statement is, "If you haven't heard, the Forest Park Review is fact-checking every campaign flier this election season, in an effort to inform voters." My comment to this article was actually, and I quote, " Umm.... isn't fact-checking job 1 for a newspaper?" end quote. So, Jill Wagner misquoted me..... Referencing an article about fact-checking. For what purpose? I have my opinions....but for fear of being misquoted again, I'll keep them to myself. What did I say about journalistic integrity in my first response? I stand by every statement. Because I fact-checked, I'm confident in my opinions. I've said it before and it's worth repeating. "Irony is my favorite literary technique." Yes, you may quote me on that. Once again I find myself impishly gratified. Oh, and Bill?!......admonish this (insert vulgar emoji here)

Tommy Barnes  

Posted: April 21st, 2019 11:58 PM

Well, that's just it, Bill. I never posted a comment like this to a web board, nor submitted a flier for verification. At least I'm pretty sure I didn't. There's no reference to THE particular article, so I really can't say. I mean surely you can understand why I'm a bit flummoxed. It's most likely taken from a comment I made on Build Forest Park. Whether the comment was directed to the author of the article or as a response to someone else's comment, I don't know. Again, I have no frame of reference. Was this purposely omitted? Maybe, maybe not. If my statement was so profound to merit an an entire article, that its mere existence on the interwebs resonated so, one would think a further delving into the mind of a genius would be in order. Directly quoted by the local rag (I think) and admonished by the infamous Bill Dwyer in one day? I've been published. I can go to my grave, content. 2 more items scratched off my bucket list. (Insert smiley face emoji)

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: April 21st, 2019 6:52 PM

Funny how you perceive the web board comments as having sticking in (Ms. Wagner's) craw," Tommy. Since what she actually said was that the comment "resonates." Or why you suggest she somehow lacks "fair journalistic integrity" because she "failed to provide the exact article, nor the context of her comment." Again, if you'd read her article, you'd know Wagner was referring to the Review's simple request for readers to submit fliers for fact checking. Pretty innoucuous, and pretty fine journalism. Her only journalistic mistake was mentioning your name.

Tommy Barnes  

Posted: April 21st, 2019 11:58 AM

I can neither confirm nor deny making that comment. My interest was piqued. It's not often I get quoted in an article. So, I went back through an entire year of articles. I found 4 with the title "Fact Checking....whatever" 3 were dated Nov. 6, 2018 by Nona Tepper....0 comments attached to articles. The 4th was dated, Aug. 21, 2018 with 7 comments, none of which were mine. Now, that's not to say I didn't comment on a link provided to one of two of the FB Forest Park groups of which I was a member. The way it's worded, I assumed the comment was made to the article directly. I found none. I blame the ambiguity of "a few months ago" and withholding of the exact article alluded to here for my inability to locate the exact article. I wish Jill Wagner had contacted me prior to this article. Maybe I could have provided her with an a reason for my comment. Now that I think about it, failing to provide the exact article, nor the context of my comment, I must say, not exactly what I would call fair journalistic integrity. I'm being put on blast for something I don't recall writing or any way to read what Jill Wagner is referencing. I must admit. I've received an impish gratification for having a seemingly benign comment stick in one's craw for "months". Meh, I probably did write it. It also seems with good reason.

Rosalio Medina  

Posted: April 21st, 2019 10:35 AM

Has been proof that village that don't have news paper got less credible informatiosn,in facts is not just the news paper is the amazing and periodistic job they are doing, I will be supporting them any way I can ,because I love their job.

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