Back in June, one of the editors from The Washington Post (WaPo) emailed me to ask permission to quote my contribution to an op-ed piece regarding how to revitalize the city centers around America and around the world.
WaPo had previously advertised a request for responses about how downtown neighborhoods could be revived or resurrected after multiple and consecutive quarantines during the Covid-19 pandemic had transformed many of them into modern day ghost towns.
I was unexpectedly delighted to be contacted and affirmed that WaPo had my permission.
The editor had asked me to provide some additional information that might be featured in the article once it was finally published. One such detail included my small business being named in the article.
WHAT? TIA IN THE WASHINGTON POST? OKAY!
If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that one of my missions is to find every atypical or unique way to build an audience for TIA that doesn’t involve the popular social media platforms. Of course, I thought that the potential for curious readers to learn more about TIA International Photography would have skyrocketed if the name was printed in the WaPo article.
Some of you may be able to detect that I’m prognosticating something — that did not happen.
As you can imagine, when I told my family and friends about being mentioned in the WaPo, they were all very excited and happy for me. My father, specifically, was very optimistic about the potential opportunities that could come from my business name being mentioned.
When the article was finally published on August 1st, my contribution was listed as the 14th suggestion out of the 15 that were shared. However, only my name (the one given to me by my parents) was listed. My company name was omitted, as illustrated below.
I should mention, before I forget, that I’m very grateful to have been quoted at all. It is a personal milestone without a doubt. Nevertheless, to be very candid, I was hoping for a dual personal and professional milestone because the potential to create some new, unusual (and very much needed) buzz for TIA was almost guaranteed if that had been the case.
Admittedly, it was somewhat endearing to see multiple texts from my dad ranting about why WaPo didn’t list my company name alongside my own name in the article. I truly think he was more disappointed than I was by the omission. Interestingly, we both noticed something in the article that was peculiar: out of the 15 contributions, two people had their company names mentioned. “Why those two and not mine?” I wondered.
Although I was ready to move on from this, something told me that I should, at least, just ask the editors about this discrepancy. I also believe I have lost opportunities by simply giving up and not asking, and I didn’t want to perpetuate this conduct to my own disadvantage.
Via email, I decided to submit an inquiry about the reasoning behind this occurrence to the editor who had initially approached me for permission to use my quote.
His response was almost immediate, which I appreciated, but it was also quite baffling.
Given these details, my “legal hat” was metaphorically on my bald head when the editor responded. Apparently, the reason why two contributors’ names alongside the names of their respective employers were printed in the article was because both employers had “conflicts of interest” with WaPo. Since TIA International Photography had no conflict of interest with WaPo, the editorial board decided against mentioning my company name.
Upon reading that, I grimaced (and probably cocked my head to the side akin to many animals who have witnessed something unusual or quizzical). The reason, to me, didn’t make sense, and I also didn’t believe that was the real reason. In virtually all my previous positions in the legal field, a “conflict of interest” is essentially a red flag to take the utmost caution about how to proceed with a case. The first thoughts that came to my mind were: “Why even include the responses of the two individuals whose employers have a conflict with the newspaper? Isn’t it risky to move forward with their remarks? Would it not make sense to exclude them altogether and use two different contributions from the plethora they probably received after putting out a public call for feedback?”
In essence, the editor’s response was counterintuitive to me. In other words, those individuals and companies who did not pose a conflict should have had their company names included.
Alas, more than a day had passed, and I’m glad the editor didn’t keep me in suspense without a response — even if the response was underwhelming and lackluster.
In retrospect, the article was also printed as an opinion piece. Had this been, in fact, an actual news article, I believe my company name would have been referenced for the sake of preserving proper editorial etiquette and good journalism.
I relayed the editor’s response to a few family members and friends, whose responses were similar to mine. My dad’s response was very humorous. Unfortunately, I can’t relay his sentiments here given how they were delivered. (Well, I could, but I won’t). I’ll just say it’s the kind of commentary you expect from the people closest to you who support your vision and also share your disappointment when something doesn’t turn out as anticipated.
Well, that’s it. I haven’t published an article in almost two months, and wanted to reassure the blogging and online reading demographic that I’m still around.
As the year begins to wind down, I hope to share new photographs of Philadelphia, Vancouver, Seattle, and Edmonton, alongside a new series of timelapse photography that I’ve accumulated over the past two years.
Please stay tuned!