My letter to the President, and the Trustees, of the Ohio News Media Association regarding Jason Sanford

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am writing to you in regards to a recent issue of which I am sure you are painfully aware. I will not go into the sordid details other than to remind you that Mr. Sanford’s piece violates several journalistic standards and ethics, which you clearly must be aware of by now.
But before I ask you the questions that I have regarding Mr. Sanford and his connection to the organization in which you have been entrusted to oversee, I wish to present my bona fides.
First, I have no material connection to Baen Books, I simply do not write the type of books they publish.
Second, where Mr. Sanford has a degree in anthropology, not journalism or English for that matter, and apparently has no experience in news journalism at any level and no credited bylines that I can locate. He writes ad copy.
I however, retired as an editor for a Southern California newspaper in 2013 after nearly a quarter-century of working my way up from a wire editor to a reporter and finally editor. I have thousands of bylines to my credit in newspapers ranging from the Gallup Independent in New Mexico, to the McClatchy newspapers – The Modesto Bee and the Merced Sun-Star – and the San Francisco Examiner.
I had a great run in my journalism career. I am proud of my career and, up until recently, proud of my profession.
I can no longer make the claim of being proud of my profession.
Mr. Sanford appears to have cherry picked quotes to make them seem other than what they were. He altered others to make them appear to say something they did not. He failed to contact the subject of his story for comment on his allegations before printing them.
And, finally, it appears that Mr. Sanford’s motives for publishing his piece of yellow journalism was revenge. I speak of a report that he submitted a manuscript to Baen that was recently rejected. If this is true, it calls into question his entire article as well as his integrity.
When I asked him about the truth of the allegation, he refused to comment and blocked me on his social media. These are the actions, I have found during my career, of a guilty man.
You have stated to others that what Mr. Sanford writes on his person blog is his affair. And that is technically true.
However, he has stated that this was an “Investigative Report” and he has prominently featured his employment with the ONMA, giving those who do not delve deeper into the facts the impression that he is an accredited journalist. He is far from it.
I would hope that your reaction to the shoddy “reporting” he presented was the same as mine. Had he been an actual reporter working for me when I was an editor, his story would not have run. And I would be questioning his continued employment.
Once the real reason for his attack on Baen came to light, that he was not reporting but getting payback, I would have fired him on the spot.
Now, you are trying your best to distance yourself from this mess, and I understand why. But the simple truth is that Mr. Sanford is an albatross around the ONMA’s neck – as well as every member publication in the state.
An ONMA employee is passing himself off as a journalist and being exposed as a smear merchant instead, and a petty one at that. Like it or not, his misconduct is reflecting poorly on the ONMA, all of you and on our entire profession.
For the sake of our profession, which is quickly losing the trust of the people we cannot survive without, I pray you review this matter and do the right thing.
Richard Paolinelli

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