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EAG Playing the Press

The Original Story:

Kyle Olson Education Action Group

The “story” is a reprint, word for word, of a press release, issued by one of the Education Action Group’s many pseudonyms, the Michigan School Board Leaders Forum. The press release left the impression that the MSBLF was the result of a grassroots movement, rather than a creation of the Education Action Group.

When a reader complains to the reporter, he receives this response:

Mr. XXXXXXXX,

I did not put my name on the story that you reference. A copy editor did. If you have questions about the paper’s policy in that regard, I recommend that you write to News Editor Mike Malott at mmalott@gannett.com.

If you wish to submit a letter to the editor regarding your position on the Michigan School Board Leaders Forum Inc., you are welcome to do so. You may forward that via e-mail to letters@livingstondaily.com.

Thank you for writing.

Lisa

Lisa Roose

This means that the editor put a reporter’s name at the bottom of an EAG press release and ran it as a news item.

The reader complains to the editor and gets this defensive response:

That we pick up information from press releases for bylined news stories is not unusual at this newspaper or any other.

You may disagree with this group and its stated purposes and goals, but the members of the group have right to have their say.

We would be happy to carry your view as well. We will keep you in mind if there are any follow up news articles that we are preparing on this or any related topic.

In the meantime, I would suggest your concerns would be best addressed by publication of XXXX XXXXX’s comments as a letter to the editor.

I would be happy to publish them that way if you would like.

Mike Malott

Metro Editor-News

Livingston County Press & Argus

Within days, a new item appears on the Mackinac Center website and in its printed Michigan Education Report that quotes the “newstory”:

Kyle Olson Education Action Group

So news organizations, starved for column inches, run press releases written by conservative advocacy groups as news stories, and right wing think tanks trumpet these “news stories” as evidence that the conservative movement is catching fire.

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