Hicks: Mayor’s office didn’t feed me the LIBA story
Lincoln Journal Star reporter Nancy Hicks told me today that as far as she knows, the mayor’s office had nothing to do with the newspaper’s story last week about the LIBA head’s six-figure salary.
Hicks wrote a story last week about how LIBA head Coby Mach was earning about $107,000 to $116,000 while lobbying local governmental entities to cut public employees’ salaries, benefits and jobs. The story whipped up a frenzy of controversy — with some questioning the point of the story and others gloating over a story that turns the tables on Mach. As of this moment, the story has generated 181 comments on the Journal Star website and it was the subject of several hours of talk radio shows last week.
On Friday, Mach talked on his show “Drive Time Live” about how I blogged that I wouldn’t be surprised if the story was peddled to Hicks by either a Democratic operative or the mayor’s office, given the fact that a mayoral aide had lobbied me (when I was doing the same job Hicks does now) to write unflattering stories about Mach.
Mach made a big deal out of that, saying in promos that the mayor’s office had been “implicated” in the LIBA story. That was a stretch — I don’t think anybody implicated anyone; somebody speculated.
So Hicks contacted me today to clarify that she did not get the information from mayoral aide Rick Hoppe.
“I did not get the information from Rick,” she said in an email. “And as far as I know the information did not in any way originate with Rick.”
The information about Mach’s salary is available to anyone who knows how to use the website Guidestar. The question is, who came up with the bright idea of finding Mach’s salary and then deciding it was a story to point out the inconsistency between that and his shrink-the-government mantra? Hicks did not want to go into that.
My goal here at Winterized is to not just write about what’s going on, but to also lift the curtain on how things go down behind the scenes. Often, these kinds of stories don’t just pop into a reporter’s brain (sometimes they do, but not often enough). Often, someone with an agenda “suggests” or “pitches” the story to the reporter. And the motivation of the person doing the pitching is important to consider when you’re the reporter deciding whether to grab on, or let it go.