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Coyote ugly: Other media decline to credit Decaturish. Again.

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Coyote ugly: Other media decline to credit Decaturish. Again.

A male coyote spotted in Piedmont Park in December 2016. Photo by Larry Wilson.

Atlanta, GA — In this town, you’re not supposed to talk about journalism’s dirty secrets.

Journalists at competing media organizations are expected to smile and mingle with each other at the Press Club mixers, when we’re out in the field covering the same press conference or when we’re chit-chatting on social media. Callouts make people uncomfortable. And in a media ecosystem where journalists routinely switch jobs among a handful of media organizations, callouts just might cost you a job opportunity.

But politeness has limits, reporters have their breaking point, and sometimes these callouts are necessary. When a story you publish becomes national news and the outlets running those stories don’t credit the source, you start to wonder why we’re making such a big show of being nice to each other. We obviously don’t respect each other.

In the early years of doing Decaturish, when it was just my stories getting snubbed by my peers, I learned to ignore it. I had bigger things to worry about, and time spent griping about the lack of credits from other organizations was time I could spend running circles around the people ripping me off. Now that I have a team, including a full-time reporter, I feel more territorial. It’s no longer just my hard work getting ignored. It’s the work of several individuals, people who are present in our communities when other outlets are chasing the latest shiny object that catches their attention.

Regular readers may recall that our reporter, Zoe Seiler, first broke the story about Casper, a local livestock dog that killed eight coyotes defending a flock of sheep. I knew TV news would eat that story up when they got wind of it because the only thing people read more than crime stories is dog stories.

I wasn’t naive enough to think TV news would show us the courtesy of crediting us. Because that never happens. Still, I was surprised at how much seeing the story reach far-flung places chapped my ass. The news was propelled in part by the Associated Press, whose reporters notably misspelled the name of the dog’s owner.

Zoe, of course, is too humble to care about getting credit, though being the reporter she is, the misspelling of the name bugged her the most. I, however, have an ego the size of Canada and while I’ve had to keep that in check for these past 10 years, do not think these snubs and slights have gone unnoticed by me. This is not the first time the Associated Press hasn’t credited us, or Fox 5, or 11 Alive, or the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, to name others.

In fact, in private, reporters freely admit that they find much of their “inspiration” from Decaturish. I have a screenshot of a private message from a local reporter who admitted many of the members of the local press would have to “pony up” to pay for a subscription if we implemented a pay wall. In the interest of maintaining this veneer of professional decorum, I’ll decline to name this person. But they know who they are.

I say all this not because I expect it will change anything. I know it won’t. News organizations will continue to “discover” the news we report, like Christopher Columbus “discovered” the new world.

But I’m saying this because I want to remind our readers of who is there for them day in and day out, and who will be there for them when other media organizations find the next shiny object to chase. If you want quality local news, you should support the writers who report it and the journalism organizations that publish it. Decaturish is one of those organizations. We’re here in the community, and we aren’t going anywhere.

Currently, Decaturish is doing a fall fundraiser. We’ve set an ambitious goal of raising $20,000 by Dec. 20. We’re $1,000 away from meeting that goal. If you appreciate us and what we do, please consider making a contribution to help us get there.

And if you’re part of a news organization that finds its “inspiration” by reading our work, you definitely should “pony up” to help us out. If you’re not going to credit us, supporting our fundraiser is the least you can do.

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