Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Seminole Tribe Pre-Empts St. Petersburg Times; Tribe Uses Own Web Site to Publish the Full Text of Interview by Times Reporters

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Seminole Tribe Pre-Empts St. Petersburg Times; Tribe Uses Own Web Site to Publish the Full Text of Interview by Times Reporters

Article excerpt

Tribe uses own Web site to publish the full text of interview by Times

reporters: www. semtribe. com/tribune/transcription.shtml

In another effort to deflate an investigation by the St. Petersburg Times of

their tribal business, the Seminole tribe of Florida has posted to their Web

site what they claim is a verbatim transcript of a recent interview between

tribal leaders and Times reporters.

The interview occurred on Oct. 22 in a public park in Gulfport, Fla. Its

online publication by the Seminoles is just the latest episode in an ongoing

tribal public relations campaign designed to raise doubts about whatever the

Times turns up in a yearlong probe of the tribe.

Neville Green, the Tampa bureau chief of the Times, would not comment about

publication of the interview transcript on the tribe's Web site. "I don't want

to sound like a broken record, [but] we do not comment on unpublished work,"

said Green. Times managing editor Neil Brown would only' say,"we're confident

that our stories will speak for themselves? The Times has yet to publish any

reports about that its reporters have uncovered.

Meanwhile, the current edition of the Seminole Tribune Online offers a

detailed report of the "interview" session attended by an editor and two

reporters of the Times and six Seminole officials -- including the tribal

police chief, housing director, and aviation director.

The Tribune Online reported: "Times attorneys refused to allow reporters to

conduct their questioning on Seminole reservation land .... Nevertheless,

[tribal chairman James Billie] agreed to meet with the Times ... only, a few

minutes from the St. Petersburg Times complex in downtown St. Petersburg. The

newspaper submitted its questions in advance and agreed to answer questions

from the Seminole Tribune, also submitted in advance. The interview was taped

by both the tribe and the Times and documented by photographers from both

entities.

The Tribune report includes a color photo of meeting participants seated

around a wood-plank picnic table with the beach and gently' rolling Gulf surf

in the background.

Technique for use against other newspapers?

Honing a technique that is likely' to be used by other groups against other

newspapers, the tribe has effectively used the World Wide Web to seize the

initiative and create the public impression that the newspaper is on the

defensive. Using a former Times reporter, the tribe began its own coverage of

the Times' ongoing investigation, publishing a series of news stories alleging

improper behavior by Times reporters as well as editorials excoriating the

Times' motives. …

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