Media: PiPress Receives Cry For Help; Doesn't Know How To Respond
Here is what’s happening with the Choc Junker story. Two days ago I sent the following email to an editor at the Pioneer Press. I think the context is pretty self-explanatory:
Wed, 8 Feb 2006 08:50:28 -0800 (PST)
From: "W Prendergast"
Subject: copy of an email to Jack Sullivan re question about Choc Junker
To: Jack Sullivan, editor, and Megan Boldt, reporter @pioneerpress.com
Dear Mr. Sullivan,
Last week I sent a request for assistance to your local education reporter, Megan Boldt. I was asking her to help me with inquiries about the current mental health of Choc Junker, a local elected official and member of the School Board. You sent the following reply to me:
I am Megan Boldt's editor and am responding on her behalf. The Pioneer Press does not discuss its coverage plans, if any, with those outside the newsroom. I don't know that Megan or I will be able to assist you further.
Washington County team leader St. Paul Pioneer Press
I think you and Ms. Boldt may have misunderstood my request. I was not asking you, Ms. Boldt, or the Pioneer Press to discuss its coverage plans (if any) with me. I was writing to you for help--trying to get an answer to an important question about a local elected official.
You say that you don't know if Ms. Boldt or you will be able to assist me further. I can think of two ways that you can help me, if you are interested in doing so:
1) Would you or Ms. Boldt or some reporter for the Pioneer Press call Mr. David Junker on behalf of the Pioneer Press and ask:
a) if his father Choc Junker has been diagnosed as having some type of mental illness or infirmity.
b) if Choc is currently being treated for some type of mental illness or infirmity.
Like his father Choc, Mr. David Junker is an elected official and is probably used to taking questions from the press about matters of public concern. I contacted David Junker about this matter some time ago and he never replied to me by phone or email; perhaps he will answer these questions if they come from a Pioneer Press journalist.
2) I notice that you are "fielding" my original question to your local Education reporter, Ms. Boldt. I think it's a little unusual for an editor to act as a kind of "press secretary" for one of his reporters, but if you are in fact answering questions for Ms. Boldt, could you please ask her the following questions and let me know her replies:
During the time that she has been responsible for covering our school board, has she ever attended any of our local school board meetings (District 834)? If so, has she ever noticed Mr. Junker appearing distracted or confused during one of those meetings, as if he didn't understand what was going on at the moment? Finally, on the basis of her experience in covering the school board, and her conversations with various school board members and area residents--has Ms. Boldt ever formed any opinion of her own regarding Choc Junker's ability to understand and concentrate on the issues the before the board? I will send her a copy of this email too, so that she stays "in the loop."
As I stated in my previous email: the reason that I am asking the PiPress' assistance with this matter is that 1) I have already asked several local elected officials about Mr. Junker's health (including David Junker) and they have refused to comment on the issue and 2) local newspapers have refused to let me use their letters to the editor page to inquire about this issue publicly. Will you, or Ms. Boldt, or one of your reporters agree to help me get answers to the questions above, and send me the responses (if any)? That would assist me, and the local voters here in the St. Croix valley, and all the people who read your newspaper.
Please let me know your answer to my request for assistance by return email.
William J. Prendergast
Update: Two days have gone by; no word from editor Sullivan or reporter Boldt.