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This is More About Context than Coffee

August 11th, 2009 by admin · 9 Comments

by John LaFollette
The ‘Ville Voice Correspondent

Here’s a head scratcher.  A story about local iced coffee runs in the Courier that includes a quote from Lynn’s Paradise Café manager Ashley Brossart that doesn’t cast the restaurant in the rosiest of lights.  Shortly after the story is published, Brossart is fired from her post after two and a half years at Lynn’s.

Lynn Winter, the restaurant’s owner, said that since the issue was personnel-related she couldn’t talk about the specifics of why Brossart was fired. “I get a lot of press—some of it’s accurate, some of it’s not,” she said, “but I would never fire a person over a quote.”

Not so, says Brossart, who recalls that Winter told her she was fired for “misrepresenting the restaurant,” and “disregarding [Winter’s] feelings regarding coffee.”

The quote in question is in the sixth paragraph of the story:

Lynn’s Paradise Cafe on Barret Avenue serves an iced coffee made with espresso, but front house manager Ashley Brossart says her customers are looking for a different kind of jolt. “A lot of people don’t come here asking for specialty coffee. Honestly, we specialize in mimosas and Bloody Marys.”

But here’s the rub: Brossart says she wasn’t quoted properly in the first place.  The quote that ran, she says, came at the end of a longer conversation with C-J reporter Larry Muhammad in which she said Lynn’s staff would bend over backwards to meet any and all customers’ drink requests.

Read the Rest After the Jump…

“I told him we would make anything for anyone at any time,” Brossart said, after noting that she repeatedly referred Muhammad to Lynn’s PR department because she wasn’t trained to deal with reporters.  “I interrupted him and said, ‘You need to talk to Patty [Schnatter] in PR’,” she said.

Brossart concedes that, yes, she did say the words that were attributed to her.  But she never said anything about “a different kind of jolt.”  Brossart’s quote, placed after Muhammad’s set-up, makes Lynn’s patrons sound like booze fiends looking for a hair of the dog that bit ‘em, which is (if Brossart had meant it that way) a fire-able offense.  Muhammad wouldn’t comment on the record, except to say that the quote is accurate.

So what we have, it seems, is a classic case of a newspaper printing what a person said, just not what a person said.  From Brossart’s account of the conversation, it sounds like the line about the mimosas and the Bloody Marys is probably the most colorful thing she said.  But it wasn’t the only thing she said, nor was it the most important.

The most important, most relevant thing Brossart said was that iced coffee isn’t a hot item at Lynn’s, which should have been clue enough to Muhammad to scrap the paragraph in the first place.

For the record, Muhammad’s reporting in the iced coffee story was first questioned on the website of Zach Everson, who wrote the Louisville.com article that was quoted in Muhammad’s story.  Everson complained  that Muhammad’s story quoted his opinions without attributing them to him, liberally revised his quotes, and failed to make the distinction between iced lattes (which is the only drink Everson’s article reviewed) and iced coffee.

Tags: Blogging · Ethics · Journalism · Media · Reporters

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Carol // Aug 11, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Lynn Winter has a reputation that precedes her and I don’t mean that in a positve way! Many who know her know that she is not always a reasonable employer. She has been known to fire people for frivolous, often personal reasons.

  • 2 bill // Aug 11, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Why would anyone want to go into that dump and eat anyway!

  • 3 Dutchman // Aug 11, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Comon! I can’t believe that Zach would even hint or suggest that LM of the CJ did not give him proper attribution and through clever writing of his own distorts what LM did in the first place. How clever? It reads like a complaint of plagiarism—”to steal and pass of ideas without crediting the source” (Webster’s dictionary) He claims some kind of journalistic sin by invoking W&B of the Washington Post. He writes in a headline: “Larry Muhammad liked my thoughts enough to quote me, but not mention me.” Let’s breakdown the complaint: LM gave full atrribution and credit to his blog which is where the quote came from. So what’s the sin? Apparently he did cite Zach by name and perhaps degrees, where he lives, and credentials. I guess the New York Times should stop saying the White House said today and NBC news found are journalistic blunders as well. What an ego! My God!
    Another attack on LM is that they list his facebook page and guess what those facebooks pages are not even LM! Thank you Derby House Expresso and where is your name next to your quote? Third, back to the original article LM was exonerated that the quote was indeed accurate.
    Good for LM not running to Lynn’s PR bureau for a quote and getting it off the floor who serves the coffee! What’s sad is these posts in a time where many at the CJ are getting fired, let go and forced into retirement unfairly throws gasoline on LM reputation who has a long distinguished record of honest and fair journalism at the CJ and several other national publications. He is also a playright who has been featured at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. But perhaps the bashing is about hatred of LM for having a Muslim name? Funny thing too like Mark Twain, he also writes under another name as well with even greater success outside the CJ. So Zach chill down with some coffee on the rocks because if LM called it anything else you would probably claim you invented those words too. The good news about LM piece is he gives a nice shout out to indy coffee houses and a nice quote from an unknwon blog run by Zach. So what do we learn from Zach’s rant: avoid mentioning the blog post of Zach and for God sakes don’t interview a waitress on a story about ice coffee or whatever you want to call it.

  • 4 Just me // Aug 11, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    Dutchman

    Did ya have one too many iced coffees today?

  • 5 Dutchman // Aug 11, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Clarification and correction: my sentence should have read with “NOT” added and instead et. al. :

    Apparently he did NOT cite Zach by name and perhaps degrees, where he lives, and credentials instead Larry just called it “Louisville.com” which is proper in journalism.
    Maybe Zach was mad that LM did not agree with coffee placess that were different than his list: like Lynn’s. So as the saying goes wrong headed either way.

  • 6 The Louisville Courier-Journal’s Larry Muhammad liked my thoughts enough to quote me, but not mention me | Zach Everson | Writer. Editor. Consultant. // Aug 11, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    [...] Read Brossart’s comment on this post and then check out The Ville Voice’s post, “This is more about context than coffee” for [...]

  • 7 Jim // Aug 12, 2009 at 3:06 am

    Sounds like that’s one more place that I can actually say that I wouldn’t want to work at. Oh well, maybe the young lady will find a way to find something else and thumb up her nose at that lousy restaurant. Dumpy, nasty, and another overrated hole.

  • 8 Cantinflas // Aug 12, 2009 at 8:41 am

    Lynn Winter is a legend in her own mind.

  • 9 Jk // Aug 21, 2009 at 11:32 am

    No suprise Lynn fired this girl for such a small issue. I have heard that she has fired over 30 employees in two months! Such a heartfealt woman during a recession. That place is gross. Overpriced.

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