In your leaky Wednesday media column: A DC editor accidentally forwards an email convo with a reporter about Blackwater, which we reproduce for you in full; layoffs come to Newhouse; the WSJ ends embargoes; and Jack Shafer abhors The Butt.

This is interesting mostly just for being a candid look into how your news stories get made: McClatchy DC's online managing editor Mark Seibel accidentally forwarded this email chain to a marketing list, woops. It's a convo between Seibel and Jay Price, a reporter at The News & Observer in North Carolina, about how to approach a story about a lawsuit alleging that Blackwater's founder was responsible for murders in Iraq. This is what journalists do! Let's not get all wing-nutty about these things. (We know that some right-wing bloggers are getting wing-nutty about this right now). Jay Price seems like a very balanced man, we must say.

On Aug 5, 2009, at 11:15 AM, Seibel, Mark wrote:
> You guys doing anything on the murder alegations?

From: Jay Price
To: Seibel, Mark
Sent: Wed Aug 05 11:30:32 2009
Subject: Re: Blackwater?

dunno, sent the material to joe yesterday but we havent talked. I'm on night cops rotation all this week since we no longer can afford night cops reporters.

I would be careful about how seriously I took this stuff.....The allegations are anonymous and part of a lawsuit that frankly is pretty shaky with some wilder stuff re: child prostitution etc.
Norfolk wrote it because its in their yard, but their story was pretty lukewarm. This is not the same as someone publically saying this stuff happened.
They are prone to threats but its been essentially junior HS boy cheft puffing, no sense they would ever do this or that the talk of christian crusades... they shot a lot in iraq but if there were lots of intentional killings we'd know about it.

On Aug 5, 2009, at 11:39 AM, Seibel, Mark wrote:
> I don't know about that last part. I think there were many intentional killings. Let me know if you guys decide to do something.

From: Jay Price
Sent: Wednesday, August 05, 2009 12:24 PM
To: Seibel, Mark
Subject: Re: Blackwater?

will do. I mean intentional in the sense described in lawsuit, where they are alleged to have gone over on a christian crusade to kill iraqis.
The allegations of killing potential whistleblowers is another red flag on this. victim(s ) are unnamed and it's not as if there are a ton of potential candidates. BW didnt lose but a handful there and most are known issues — fallujah and chopper shoot downs/crashes.
So we have unnamed accusers, no names or circumstances for alleged victims etc. , lawyers who have been really pushing the limits of credibility and Jeremy Scahill who has made a career out of sensationalizing.... worth digging at, but there isn't even a small piece of solid evidence to support this stuff. Eric is Catholic and surely religious but the guys he put in the field were no more interested in religion than anyone else, and prob less so.

On Aug 5, 2009, at 12:26 PM, Seibel, Mark wrote:
> i imagine that's true — that the contractors themselves weren't driven by religion. they were driven by money

From: Jay Price
Sent: Wednesday, August 05, 2009 1:18 PM
To: Seibel, Mark
Subject: Re: Blackwater?

Joe's hacking through the two guys' statements to see if there is somewhere further to push it. He and I are both aware of threats to folks inside the company not to talk but his take is this new stuff is not huge ..... will let you know if he starts to pursue.

Crime site looks good, wish we had a vast promotional budget for stuff like that.... it could take off with enough spotlight.

From: Seibel, Mark
Date: Wed, Aug 5, 2009 at 1:20 PM
Subject: FW: Blackwater?
To: Wash Buro Web Marketing

let's be watching for this.

That last "To" address was the mistake!

Terrible terrible media news roundup: CNBC's lost almost 30% of its audience in the past year. Roll Call is canning executives. Some smart people think BusinessWeek will fold. And Newhouse Newspapers "is planning to remove its long-standing 'no-layoffs' pledge." It will be replaced with a "layoffs" pledge.

The WSJ reportedly has a new policy of refusing embargoes on stories, unless they're exclusives, or "unless the story is considered big enough." So this mostly applies to you, publicist with the "EMBARGOED: Issuing Brand New Plush Bunny Figurine In New Color: Orange" press release. You are totally screwed.

Pay attention, Jack Shafer has a very serious statement to make about Dana Milbank's proclivities for japes 'n jibes: "I'm not really a fan of Milbank and Cillizza's brand of humor. But to put a finer point on it, I'm actually not a fan of any kind of humor. The very essence of humor is aggression. The point of most jokes is to inflict psychological suffering and pain-to transgress and make someone the butt." Ha, he said "the butt."