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Tom Kenney: A Journalist Takes a Shortcut With Facts, Makes ProJo Look Like National Enquirer

Friday, January 22, 2016


Providence Journal building

Say it ain’t so, Mark Patinkin.

Not you, too.

Not Mark Patinkin – the journalist who writes passionate fluff pieces for the Providence Journal attempting to pull on the heartstrings of his readers.

After all your laudable efforts to show the truthful, human side of the story that many news journalists sometimes miss; it turns out that you’re just another one of “them”.

One of those whose writing ends up taking away the respect from real journalists.

A poster boy for the one-sided attack. Writing solely on the basis of the accuser, without ever getting the story of the accused.

Many of my friends have a stronger word for it. They call it slander.

Of your dozens of columns regarding firefighters and the fire service, every single one of them paints a negative picture of firefighters. Yet in every article you throw in the obligatory phrase, “… while I respect what firefighters do…”. It is plain to see that you have some sort of personal agenda against firefighters, especially Providence firefighters.

My peers say it’s “statistically impossible” for you to be unbiased toward firefighters when all your columns regarding firefighters are critical.

While you were writing your hatchet job on me did you ever feel that maybe, just maybe, you should reach out to me via e-mail to see what my side of the story might be? I guess your answer is no. Despite the fact that over the years you and I have had a history of scores of e-mail contacts going back about 5 years.

Instead you relied on the so-called facts stated by the Commissioner and reported by one of your fellow journalists at ProJo who had one short conversation with me prior to publishing his story. I guess you had a great idea for a column and didn’t want to take the chance of ruining that story by uncovering facts that told a different story.

Lazy journalism. Slanted journalism. Quite possibly slanderous journalism.

Such journalism wouldn’t be tolerated in most newspapers not titled “National Enquirer”, but I guess the Providence Journal allows such columns. Maybe because your editors don’t consider you a real journalist.

And worse, Mark, there doesn’t seem to be any sense of conscience on your part for publishing this personal attack. I’ve requested that you write some type of retraction several times since your column was published but you refuse. I guess that means you’re not as worried about the column being factual as you are about it being witty.

Of course, not all journalists are lazy, biased or play loose with the facts. Many report what the facts come to prove regardless of the outcome. Other columnists, such as you, come up with an idea for a column and use only the facts that support their story.

Journalists have a very important job in our society. People need to believe, and most do, that what they read in legitimate newspapers and periodicals is factual. Columnists who specialize in fluff pieces may be excused from the necessity of being true to the facts in some of their musings or human interest stories, but certainly not in their opinion pieces that attack the reputation and integrity of a real life person.

Your column, Mark Patinkin, destroying my reputation on the weight of the so-called facts provided by my attackers does an injustice to all journalists and your newspaper, the Providence Journal. Not all journalists, from ProJo or not, write a column without verifying the facts or getting an opinion or statement from the subject being lambasted.

Oh, Mark, say they printed the wrong column. Say it was merely a first draft and that you were awaiting my input. Say that this lazy, slanted and slanderous article was not supposed to be published. Say you’re too good a “journalist” for that.

Alas, we both know that’s not the case!


Related Slideshow: Providence Firefighter Tweets

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Paul Doughty responds to a post by Elorza on another subject, to steer the fight back to the firefighters.

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A photo meme that was orginated by firefighters in social media, before being used on signs during a recent firefighter rally at City Hall.

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The fighfighters take to Twitter to convey their positions on a number of issues. 

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Local 799's Derek Silva tweets a cartoon "fantasty" Tweet with Elorza. 

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Elorza's post recognizing fire chief Cunha's service gets minimal interaction.

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On May 21, when Elorza announced the platoon shift, he tweeted instead about a volunteer event he attended -- and not of the firefighter decision.

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Other press coverage of Elorza is often commented on by Doughty on Twitter.

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Doughty uses Twitter to show the contrast of a prior Elorza statement, versus his current position. 

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A pro-union tweet garners significant Twitter interaction.

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Doughty takes to social media to tell firefighter supporters than any threats against the Mayor would not be tolerated.

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Doughty often comments on other actions by Mayor Elorza in an effort to bolster the firefighters' position.

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Doughty takes immediate social action after the Mayor weighs on about the recent court decision. 

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Media coverage on the fight is often retweeted by Doughty -- something which Elorza does not do with firefighters. 

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A pro-union post retweeted by Doughty; the firefighters often engage other unions' support.


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