March 31, 2023
Annapolis, US 63 F

Fire Forces Legislators To The Street

Governor, Speaker And Others Evacuated

UPDATE 8:38pm 4/9/10: Other outlets including The Capital are reporting that this was not a fire at all but a result of the heat being put on instead of the air conditioning.  With an afternoon deadline, The Capital was able to contact both O’Briens and the Annapolis Fire Department spokesman (who was not available when we called) and set the story straight.  Kudos to Lisa Beisel for the story. While numerous news sources were reporting this (web, print, television, and radio), The Capital was silent until this afternoon by which time those sources also began to update their stories.

Boo to political reporter Joshua Stewart for taking pot shots (hey we can too right?) at us and The Sun which revised its story throughout the day as details emerged.  True, most real time sources are not 100% accurate all the time; but we try.

Governor O’Malley, House Speaker Mike Busch, a bunch of lobbyists, and approximately 40 freshman legislators were evacuated from a downtown Annapolis bar last night due to a fire.

The Governor’s security detail smelled the fumes and led the Governor to his car. Seeing the governor being escorted out, the lobbyists and legislators followed suit.

The group was assembled to celebrate the new legislator’s first term in office.

So, we have the Governor, the Speaker, 40 legislators, and a bunch of lobbyists in a burning building…..there has to be some jokes and comments there! What can you add?

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  1. Hi Tom–Actually the AP had a bit of this as did several local medial outfits as well. We were not there (or it would have been reported last night) but placed a few calls and reported it this morning.

  2. probably best to link to them next time you write something like this, or include your sources in the post. apparently there was no fire, according to the fire dept.

  3. Re: your update. The AP updated with a correct version of the story around noon yesterday. And I’m told the Capital had the correct version up online in the morning. So an 8:38 p.m. correction, while better than nothing, is not very good.

    And your headline still says it was a fire.

    Among other things, you can’t report something somebody else wrote without giving them credit. You note here that you could not confirm the information yourself, so went ahead and reprinted someone else’s work as your own. That’s textbook plagiarism.

    If you called the fire dept. for comment and did not get through to them or did not hear back, you should have noted that in your story. The original post you had was unsourced and inaccurate – you get failed in journalism school for stuff like that. And, not too long ago, you would’ve been fired from a reporting job for something like that.

    I’ve had to follow someone else’s scoop before. It sucks, you have to run around like a madman, calling sources you’ve never talked to before to give you information that they may not want out there to begin with. But it’s what you have to do to accurately report the news.

    It’s either that or you reprint someone else’s article and give them credit for it.

  4. Tom–it is NOT plagiarism at all. Yes, we knew the event occurred from various sources. That is how we found out about it. The Capital also wrote about it (later after the ultimate story was known) but did not attribute it to The Sun. Have you been in contact with Tom Maquardt to accuse him of plagiarism as well?

    The initial post was short and succinct and recapped the story. When you have a story with minimal information, there are only a few ways to tell the story. “The chicken crossed the road.” can only be written a few ways.

    And finally, we do not have the luxury of having staff reporters on call to run across town.

    We reported the incident with the facts as we knew them at the time in our own words. When we learned of a clarification, we made it. I apologize if the timing of the clarification was not to your liking. Unfortunately, I was involved with other matters.

  5. Actually, Lisa and Pat’s story was all original reporting. They called the bar, they called AFD and other primary sources, spoke to them and got the information that they included in their report, which was filed in time to put the paper to bed around 10 a.m. Original work, by definition, is not plagiarism. Yes, the Sun reported that lawmakers evacuated, but they were wrong on the reason. But if you are able to confirm the evacuation yourself beyond another outlet’s reporting, attribution is not needed.

    But by the time the paper had hit the street, Pat and Lisa had passed their information along to me, which I posted on my blog around 12:50ish (probably filled with typos). Slightly before that, at 12:12p.m. The Sun updated their Website with more accurate information. I think I had a Tweet or two about it before that too.

    Unless you were at the bar, like Annie and Julie, I don’t know how you could have had this story without using information from other sources. Care to explain how that’s possible? Care to explain why these sources weren’t credited? I

    Here’s my theory on how all this went down and a bunch of people got burned. And if I am correct, the outlets besides The Sun that covered this used the AP story, a version that was lifted directly from The Sun, errors and all. Until Pat and Lisa set the record straight, everyone, including you, got this wrong from looking to the same erroneous source.

    It’s kind of like getting busted for cheating in school by looking over at the dude sitting next to you, copying answers from his math test, errors and all, and the teacher notices the uncanny coincidences.

    I’m not taking pot shots here, I just respect the craft and have lost too many years, money and hairs and only gained ulcers to see things like this happen. It’s a type of piracy worse than Google.

    Here, read this from a guy who explains the P-word better than myself:

  6. First, I’m glad my avatar is a crab. It’s better than Tom’s Tomato. It’s also better than your picture, but only because claws are way cooler than sunglasses. Get yourself a set of pinchers and I may reconsider.

    Second, I just read your post on my blog. Yes, as a reporter I go with what I know. When I came across the story The Sun posted about the fire, all I truly knew was that The Sun had posted a story about a fire. I didn’t actually KNOW that there was a fire. I hadn’t seen it, I hadn’t felt it or anything else. I just knew that someone else was saying that there was a fire. And I could have only reported that, something along the lines of “The Sun newspaper is reporting that a fire at O’Brien’s forced lawmakers there to evacuate.” Yeah, it sucks to have to credit competition, but sometimes you get it handed to you. Think of it as a penance to atone for slacking off, having bad sources or just bad luck.

    And when Lisa and Pat wrote a story, they didn’t say that there wasn’t a fire, they said that people at AFD and O’Briens told them that there wasn’t a fire. Lisa nor Pat were at the bar at that time to see, feel or anything else that fire, so they attributed it to people who would have known.

    There’s nothing wrong with using attribution, it’s a part of the job.

  7. Josh, I totally agree that attribution is a part of the job. I think you will agree that we attribute a good deal to The Capital. However, this story, when broken, was scarce on facts. It was covered as a fire by many new sources including Eye On Annapolis–WBAL, The Sun, the AP, WJZ, etc. Yes, in the end they all were initially incorrect, and they all have subsequently made the appropriate corrections.

    When you have few facts to work with, there is only so much you can do. If a chicken crossed the road and three reporters wrote about it, I guarantee that at least two of them would have the same wording–A chicken crossed the road!

    We were presented with information that said 1)there was a fire 2)O’Malley and others evacuated the building 3)the fire department was called and 4) it was last night. There is not too much more anyone can grab from that. The Capital actually pays reporters to work their beat. We do not have that luxury. The Capital got it right and by the time they went to press they were able to dispatch reporters to do the legwork. At 10am (or whenever we posted it) those details were not known to us. When they became evident, we modified the post and attributed The Capital.

    At what point do you feel it is appropriate to NOT trust multiple sources? Is it legitimate for people to report that Obama was inaugurated when they were not present at the swearing in?

    As for the sunglasses vs crab claw. I will work on it.!

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