In addition to the usual activities of sifting through inflammatory letters to the editor and meeting with local politicians seeking the paper’s endorsement, he had to contend with a minor controversy over whether U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman plagiarized material used in an OpEd.
Now that the election has passed, Hubbard agreed to answer some questions about the plagiarism accusations, as well as a few other issues relevant to the public relations industry.
Q: As a result of the issue with Rep. Coffman’s opinion column, you have implemented new policies to ensure that material The Denver Post publishes is “original work.” What are those new policies, and how do they differ from previous policies?
A: As I told (The Denver Post reporter) Kurtis Lee for his story, we’ve always operated with the understanding that the work people submit is their own. There was a similar issue with Rep. Scott McInnis and op-eds he penned for The Denver Post under previous editors, so I decided that we would spell it to eliminate any confusion. We have posted the policy online and are in the process of creating a form in which contributors acknowledge that, to the best of their knowledge, the work they are submitting is their own (if that sounds a lot like the Honor Code at Colorado College, it’s probably because two brothers and my best friend went there).
Q: Lee reported that, “Ethics experts contacted by The Post said the duplicative writings fall short of their definition of plagiarism. But they said Coffman’s use of material by other writers failed to reach accepted standards for attribution.” What conclusion did you reach as the editorial page editor?
A: The “cut” and “paste” functions on computers and political “messaging” operations can be dangerous.
Q: What, if any, conversations did you have with Rep. Coffman or his office once it was determined that the material had appeared other places under the bylines of other individuals?
A: I haven’t had any conversations with him. I expect we will the next time he offers a piece. We’ve always had a a cordial professional relationship, and I don’t expect this episode to change that fact.
Q: It is a common practice in public relations to ghostwrite material for clients. What is your opinion about that practice? (more…)
Clark’s questions – on the U.S. consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya; stimulus money for the politically connected, Colorado-based Abound Solar; and the lack of civility in the Presidential race – represented a departure from the softball interview questions sitting presidents usually face in local markets.
Kyle graciously agreed to answer some of my emailed questions about the interview and the wide-ranging reactions to it.
Q: How was the decision made for you to be the one to interview President Obama?
A: As I understand it, the interview was offered to 9NEWS by President Obama’s campaign and our news director, Patti Dennis, asked me to conduct it. I’m not sure why I was selected; I’m not our political reporter, but like any player called off the bench by the coach, I just tucked in my jersey and hit the court.
Q: You have developed a reputation for asking hard-hitting questions, particularly as part of the 9Wants to Know investigative team. Did President Obama’s team push back when they learned you would be the one asking the questions?
A: I’ll be sure to mail you $5 for saying that. If President Obama’s team pushed back about me conducting the interview, I never heard about it.
Q: How did you prepare for the interview and select the questions you would ask?
A: I’m a political junkie who follows the campaigns pretty closely so I had a good idea which issues the candidates had already addressed head-on. We have no shortage of canned political messages on-air in Colorado, so my goal was to ask timely, tough, and fair questions that would elicit previously unheard answers on critical issues like Libya, the use of stimulus money and the tone of the race. I wrote out questions the night before the interview and ran them past about 10 people at 9NEWS to ensure that they were fair and addressed issues of interest. The morning of the interview, I adjusted our question on Libya to reflect recent comments made by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to the Associated Press.
Q: President Obama’s answers were perhaps a little longer than you might have expected. What were the next two questions you would have asked him if you’d had the time?