Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Identity Mix-up

The other day we pursued a curiosity found in Chuck Reed's campaign finance disclosures: a contributor named John Salah was listed as an employee at the Mercury News. It turned out that was a clerical error at the hands of the Reed campaign. We received a post from someone claiming to be Sal Pizarro from the Mercury News. Da Rookie appreciated the research but incredulously dismissed the poster - assuming it couldn't be someone actually from the Merc.

Anyway, today we read this.

Needless to say, some apologies are in order from MW to John Salah and Sal Pizarro. Here is the text from Pizarro's account:

A strange and only mildly amusing drama played out on the Web yesterday that ended with me being accused of not actually being me.

On the MayorWatch blog, a discussion started over a letter published in Sunday's Mercury News about San Jose mayoral candidate Chuck Reed's reimbursement troubles. The letter writer was named John Salah, and as the blog pointed out, he was a contributor to Chuck Reed's campaign, with a $100 donation showing up on the Dec. 31, 2005 disclosure form. But, the blog continued, he was listed on the form as "Manager Mercury News," which raised all sorts of hackles on the blog and accusations that the paper had published a pro-Reed letter from one of its employees without identifying the person as such.

It got even weirder after that.

After I saw this on the blog, I was troubled, too. I've worked at the paper for 13 years and had never heard of a John Salah who worked there. But there are a lot of employees in different divisions that I never come into contact with, so it was possible that it was true and we just hadn't met. So I did a bit of research with my good friend, the Internet, and figured out that John Salah didn't work for the Mercury News -- he works for Mercury Interactive, a software testing company.

After a series of emails with our editorial page folks and our newsroom editors that spanned much of the day, I got the OK to post a reply on the MayorWatch blog (usually a no-no since as a newspaper we've got our own means of talking to the public). I explained the situation: We don't know how it happened, but somewhere down the line someone probably confused Mercury Interactive with Mercury News on the disclosure form, but the letter from Salah was legit and not part of a Mercury News conspiracy to elect Chuck Reed (a conspiracy I'm sure he would consider to be quite incompetent given our heavy coverage of the reimbursement news).

But the kicker was that after I posted this, one of the board moderators thanked me for clearing things up but insisted twice that I was "not Sal Pizarro." There have been a lot of days in my life when I wished that were true, but that was definitely me posting there Monday.


At 7:30 PM, Anonymous concerned dem said...




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