Addressing bias for Third Ward profiles

Readers have expressed concern that my reporting on the personality profiles for Karl Skala and Gary Kespohl was biased. After hearing their feedback and reevaluating my work, I realize that, although this was not my intention, it certainly seems so.

If I could do it over, I would do things a little differently, but what’s been published can’t be taken back and, in the words of Mr. Skala, “what’s done is done. We’ll deal with it.”

I made the mistake of putting Mr. Schuster in both articles. In retrospect, I would not have included him in Mr. Kespohl’s profile.

As I know them, Mr. Skala and Mr. Kespohl could not be more opposite to one another and I hoped the tone of each article would reflect that.

As for the “puffy” tone of Mr. Kespohl’s article in comparison to Mr. Skala’s, I should have included more dynamic sources for Mr. Kespohl. If one article included both positive and negative comments, I should have done the same for the other.

If I could do things differently, I would.

Some things, however, I would do exactly the same.

I want to be as transparent as possible and explain that, even if I could do it again, I would leave Mr. Schuster’s comments in Mr. Skala’s personality profile.

I might have more tactfully presented his viewpoint, but I still see value in providing it.

As I got to know Mr. Skala through seeing him at council meetings, at forums and in his home or at the Pasta Factory for interviews, I got the strong impression that Mr. Skala is who he is no matter the audience or situation.

To me, Skala appeared as thoughtful, analytical, and seemingly unafraid of a little confrontation. Karl Skala is still Karl Skala whether Mr. Schuster, or anyone else, agrees with him or not.

I take full responsibility for both profiles and, though my confidence as a reporter is a little wounded, I still stand by my work. The feedback provided to me by readers has been a painful and valuable lesson to learn, and one that I will not forget.

It isn’t any consolation to say that I didn’t mean to sound biased because, to a degree, the reality is that I did — but it certainly wasn’t on purpose.

I can only offer my transparency as a reporter and my focus to do better for my future work as proof that I’ve learned an important lesson from these profiles.

-Anne Christnovich, Public Life reporter

To read both profiles visit:

Gary Kespohl’s profile

Karl Skala’s profile

One Response to “Addressing bias for Third Ward profiles”

  1. Anne:

    Thanks for your thoughtful reflections on this minor flap.

    Hank

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