Since the publication of our Sept. 20 web story, “Failed Carolina gay news merger reveals allegations,” Q-Notes has received feedback both positive and negative. We encourage our readers to discuss and debate our news coverage based on its merits. We also want our readers to know the reasons why we decided to publish the story and the history of the case. We think the “back story” is worth sharing and sheds more light on our decisions to cover this topic.
In November 2008, shortly after the debut of OnQ Carolina Edition, Q-Notes was made aware of some concerns and questions regarding the past actions of OnQ’s executive editor and founder Jamie Seabolt. At the time, we looked into those concerns and spoke to individuals who knew and who worked with Seabolt in Pittsburgh, Penn. We also interviewed Seabolt.
While we found the allegations to have merit, we decided to table the story as it had been a few years since the allegations and Seabolt had not acted in similar ways in this market. For almost a year, we sat on the story and filed away our interviews and notes while Seabolt worked to produce a new LGBT publication.
When we learned several Carolinas community non-profits and gay-owned businesses had signed contracts with Seabolt and those contracts had gone unfulfilled, our concern was reawakened.
So, aware of new concerns and questions, Q-Notes editorial staff was obligated to again investigate. We approached this story knowing it was a potential land mine. We knew some readers and others in our community might interpret our coverage as a direct attack on a competitor and as “business as usual.” For these reasons, we took great care to thoroughly interview each side. We presented questions and issues fairly and evenly. When one side alleged an improper action from the other, we followed up with new questions and incorporated new answers in our reporting. We were given emails and copies of contracts and other documents. We reviewed everything that crossed our desks.
After days of in-depth interviews and research, and two days of writing, editing and reviewing, we published our story. In it, each side’s views are presented objectively. If one side made an accusation or allegation, the other was given a chance to respond. Our coverage depended on and can be backed up by corroborated interviews or documentation.
We believe our coverage is neutral and presents an accurate representation of the issues at hand.
Some of our readers might think we pursued this story out of self-interest — that we sought out to “drag our competitor’s name through the mud.” It is unfortunate some would view our decision to cover this story in this way. We hope they will recognize the care we took in approaching this story and the almost year-long research and observation that went into it.
For 24 years, Q-Notes has existed to serve the community and to protect it when others attempt to harm or take advantage of its members, businesses and non-profit organizations. Sometimes, serving and protecting our community and its interests means reporting on its bad news along with its good. As much as we’d like to report only on the positive achievements of the LGBT community and its leaders, we sometimes find ourselves faced with facts and a reality in stark contradiction to our own wants and desires. Although such bad news might paint a less than savory portrait of our community, we must remember our place as a newspaper and our mission to work with unbiased and objective lenses. This is what makes Q-Notes and other LGBT news organizations unique.
We hope our community becomes better through our news coverage. We want our readers and the public to know that we wish nothing but goodwill toward our competitors, their readers and the overall community. We hope our coverage is seen as an opportunity for our community to grow and take Nietzche’s wise words to heart: “That which does not kill us, only makes us stronger.”