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The South Boston News & Record Plays Dirty

UPDATE: The News & Record has given SouthsideCentral credit in the last paragraph of the online article. We thank them for their proper ethical decision.

It can be frustrating when somebody uses the results of your hard work and doesn’t give you credit for it.

Looking at you, Tom McLaughlin and the South Boston News & Record newspaper.

Two hours ago, SouthsideCentral published documents on the Cherokee Tobacco case.

I’ve been working on this story for a long time and finally was able to get what I needed to publish it. I’ve done a lot of investigative reporting work on this story because it’s been 11 months since the search warrant was executed.

I’ve held these documents for about a week while I debated how to handle this story. I know the people involved in this case so I took my time coming to a decision. I went ahead and published the article at 1:45PM. About 30 minutes later, the South Boston News & Record newspaper published a web-based article about the warrants. They had not been following up on this case one bit and they used my information to write their article.

If you’re wondering how I know that, here’s the opening paragraphs to their first version of the story.


These documents were not “unsealed this week”, nor was the search warrant unsealed on Aug. 2nd.

I immediately called the News & Record and spoke to general manager Tom McLaughlin. I expressed my concerns and told him that his dates were wrong. he asked me what the correct dates were. Um, no. If they had actually done some investigative reporting, they would have had the documents back when I got them. I also asked for credit to SouthsideCentral for the original article and he said “I’ll fix the article, but the documents are public record. I’ll consider your request for credit.”

Tom McLaughlin made the change to the article as you can see here…

The dates have been removed.

You’ll notice that the dates have been removed but there’s no credit to SouthsideCentral for our original article that published the warrants.

Whenever I’ve used any other media source, I’ve already provided a link back to the media outlet’s original webpage. That’s simply good ethical behavior. It’s clear that Tom McLaughlin and the N&R don’t feel the same way.

I worked hard on this story like a good investigative reporter should. The News & Record should have been doing the same thing as a good newspaper would do. Instead, they simply take the work I’ve done and make their own story about it, making it seem that they’ve been working on this followup as well. They had not been doing that. Neither had the Gazette-Virginian (but at least they didn’t have the nerve to pull what the N&R just did).

Tom McLaughlin was right in saying these documents are public record. I feel that my hard work on getting these documents deserved at least a small credit in the article. Shame on the News & Record.


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