Response to the Durango Herald

 

The Durango Herald took issue with El Diablo’s March interview with Durango 9R Superintendent Dan Snowberger “Snowberger: The man, the scandal, and the future of DHS,” both in an email to us and a story published the week after the March issue was printed.

The Durango Herald’s former executive director, Amy Maestas, contacted El Diablo requesting a correction about the “categorically false” claims made throughout our article. This was three days before Maestas stepped down as executive director.

Maestas also claimed that there were “many journalistically unsound parts of the story,” though only identified one specific discrepancy regarding the time given to Mr. Snowberger to respond to a story regarding accusations of inconsistencies in his resume. The Herald’s concerns were later published in a March 24th article “Durango superintendent confronts controversies in student newspaper.”

Maestas specifically alleged that Snowberger’s assertion that he was given only four hours (while in the hospital with his injured wife) to respond to their request for an interview regarding a story on his resume was incorrect. The Herald claims that they gave Snowberger up to two days to respond before publishing the article. In a statement provided to El Diablo, Mr. Snowberger stands by his claim, and notes that he was not available for interview requests while on family leave with his wife.

“Mr. Snowberger received a message at approximately 1:30 pm on December 9. In that message, the reporter indicated that he had a 5:00 pm deadline on that day and needed a response. The reporter also sent an email with lengthy questions, also providing the document that appeared to be provided by anonymous sources to the Herald and was the subject of the article. Without receiving any contact from Snowberger, the article had been printed in the paper” stated Snowberger’s office.

Several comments on the Herald’s article insinuated that Mr. Snowberger took advantage of us to spread his side of the story. However, we approached Mr. Snowberger in order to provide balanced perspectives on recent controversies, as we felt the Herald’s coverage of Mr. Snowberger, much like their coverage of our March assembly, lacked balanced points of view. Critiques of the district’s leadership were included in our Editorial section. The Herald also took advantage of the fact that El Diablo is a student program and is not journalistically impeccable all the time. This was contradicted by the fact that The Herald did not reach out to or give credit to the student journalists in their article. This fact was pointed out by The Herald’s readers in an online comment on the March 24th article and a Letter to Editor published in the paper. These comments also pointed out the immature nature of The Herald’s coverage on this topic and their exaggeration of an ultimately minor misunderstanding.

We regret not reaching out to the Herald for a statement, and should have noted that the time given for Mr. Snowberger to respond is disputed by both parties. El Diablo stands by our decision to report his comments, and even if the Herald gave him 48 hours, it does not detract from the fact that he was unable to respond due to his wife’s condition.

In addition, in the March issue we printed that we would post audio interviews with Mr. Snowberger and the School Board, however, this was unethical on our part as we did not inform the involved interviewees beforehand that this was the case, so we chose not to do so. At no point did an administrator attempt to censor our stories or prevent us from publishing audio of interviews. We will continually strive for and maintain high levels of journalistic integrity.