The Bristol Herald Courier and J Todd Foster Get Called Out
The once respected BHC has been hijacked by the ignorance of J Todd Foster. Jerry From on High has the story. A couple weeks ago the poisen pen of the BHC editors published a opinion piece about a meeting they had had with Power Plant supporters. Mark Wooten from Wise scalds him in this LTE. Wooten was there-
Bristol editor’s attack offensive
To the Editor:
Yes, reasonable minds do disagree on the issue of Dominion’s coal-fired power plant in Virginia City. That point has been made by various newspapers that have covered what has become a controversy in Wise County and beyond.
What most newspapers have NOT done is turn their powerful pens into personal weapons. That’s what the managing editor of Media General’s Bristol Herald-Courier did after the newspaper’s editorial board agreed to meet with a group of reasonably minded leaders from Wise County concerned about the paper’s coverage of the issue. In a subsequent “editorial commentary” written by editorial board member Todd Foster, we were the ones ambushed, not the editorial board, as he asserted.
I must respond to Foster’s scathing personal attacks against me and others in that meeting.
First, I most certainly was not looking to buy any favors from the editorial board or the Bristol paper. My remarks on withholding advertising by our company were simply to reiterate what any newspaper company already knows: They sell a product and any potential customer has the freedom to make choices of where they spend their money. Shoddy standards of journalism compromise credibility and that does not go unnoticed by readers and advertisers alike.
Second, our meeting was considered “on the record.” We were not looking to hide our positions, far from it; we wanted them known. We wanted them to hear from us and even publish what we had to say.
But instead of fairly reporting both sides of this conversation, the decision-makers opted to simply react on the opinion page.
Indeed, while everyone is entitled to an opinion, Foster is aware that his opinion is published, circulated and carries with it the power and freedom of the press securely protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment. His editorial commentary and opinions, therefore, ought to be exercised in a professional and responsible manner in keeping with the obvious power he possesses as managing editor of a widely circulated newspaper.
He has every right to disagree with me and others on the power plant, and to even yield the power of the press by publishing and circulating his editorial disagreement with our opinions, or even our expression of them.
What he has done, however, is breach the very duty of fairness he has as an editor and a member of the press; he has unfairly and improperly utilized the power and freedom of the press to wage an ugly personal attack against me, my company and Ron Flanary, a dedicated and highly respected public servant whose services to the region are immeasurable as executive director of Lenowisco Planning District Commission, past chairman of the Crooked Road and a board member of the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority.
What he wrote, published and circulated in his March 16 opinion column exceeded the boundaries of fair comment. It was offensive, mean-spirited, vengeful, unprofessional and immature. It did not fully inform nor enlighten. It served no public interest at all, only his personal misguided self-interest.
In closing, it is interesting that the headline of his attack column was “Newspaper’s editorial position is not for sale.” A more fitting title would have been: “Newspaper’s editorial position not open for discussion without fear of reprisal.” Foster has exploited and abused the privilege of editorial comment for his own personal satisfaction and vengeance. What a blatant misuse of his power and responsibility, and what a disservice to the readers of the Bristol Herald-Courier. Shame on him!
Mark S. Wooten
That is nothing new for Foster. As Swac Girl informed us
Remember J. Todd Foster? He's the guy who used to be at the Waynesboro News Virginian a couple of years ago, the guy who had worked for People Magazine and had that big-city edge to him that went against the grain of many locals. He was sued by a City Council member and left the area soon after that.
They owe Wise Co a apology and Wise Co business should pull all advertising from the BHC. I know of many people that have canceled their subscriptions, and I am sure more will follow.