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Inaccurate criticisms

My colleagues and I at the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting are happy to take criticism of what we write. We hope our stories about Maine government provoke debate, which is an essential component of a robust democracy.

Recently, though, a letter and an opinion column in The Times Record criticized my reporting about the governor’s task force that shaped the state’s wind power policy by asserting that I had written things that I hadn’t.

Richard Jennings, in his commentary, writes that “Unfortunately, it seems at the end there was apparently a failure to keep minutes, but there were no ‘secret’ meetings.” (“Windpower series sows seeds of confusion,” Aug. 27). Jennings’ use of quotation marks around the word “secret” implies that I used the word “secret” to characterize those meetings.

Suzanne Sayer, a member of the task force, writes in Sept. 1 letter-to-the-editor: “Her characterization that the task force meetings were closed or secret is wrong.” (“Articles were biased,” Sept. 1).

I never wrote that the task force’s meetings were secret. Rather, I wrote that minutes were not kept of two of the most crucial of those meetings, at which a map was drawn up designating areas in the state where regulations would be eased in order to site wind power projects.

Further, Mr. Jennings asserts in his commentary that, in consulting with two members of the task force about my story, they told him “that their statements were taken out of context, leading to a very different meaning from what they intended. One added he would not again consent to an interview by her.”

These accusations are based on anonymous sources, something that we would not do at the center. The reason we don’t use anonymous sources is because they lack credibility. If critics want to come forth and use both facts and their names, I’d be happy to respond to them.

Naomi Schalit, senior reporter, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, Hallowell