Never trust anyone #110; June 16, 2005

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2005

There was a great small newspaper in Rome, Ga., the Rome News-Tribune, that I almost went to work for once back in the mid 1980s. I was offered a job as a reporter but ultimately decided against it. While the 50 extra bucks a week was huge to someone earning $250 a week, my publisher at the time assured me I had more of a future staying put.

During my interview with the managing editor, he told me something that I never forgot.

"We don't talk to anyone off the record."

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He said whenever anyone talks to anyone with the News-Tribune, they know they are talking on the record.

I ‘ve considered doing that from time to time at various papers where I've been since, but I've always run into a lot of opposition from the news departments who claimed they would miss to many stories because sources would not talk to them.

I've always relented and this week it came back to bite me.

After returning from a business trip to Alabama on Monday, somebody came to see me and tell me about the big office-retail-condo project on the Chorey property on W. Washington St. n Yeah, the same $30 million project that was on the front page of today's Virginian-Pilot.

The source asked me to wait until Friday to publish the story because there were still some sensitive issues that needed to be worked out with the City of Suffolk. We talked again on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon when I was assured again that we would be given the story first on Friday, after the developers met with city department heads.

So I was more than a little bent out of shape this morning when I saw the story on the front page of the Pilot.

Andy Damiani stopped by the office yesterday and told me that he had just seen Ray Guindroz in town. Guindroz is the guy with Urban Design Associates in Pittsburgh, Pa. whose involved in just about any design decision with the city. I should have put two and two together then, that somebody was talking about it and that's why Guindroz was here.

Anyway, this is an exciting project for Suffolk n one that's 50 percent bigger than the Hilton n and one that won't cost the taxpayers a dime –so I hope the city gets behind this like the did the Hilton.

And, by the way, in the future if anybody tells me anything, I'm putting it in the paper that day.