@VIKESSTADIUM’s Reading Comprehension Issues

A militant Vikings stadium welfare supporter has decided that StarTribune reporter, Rochelle Olson, is the devil with a notepad:

@VikesStadium Attacking @RochelleOlson

Bold stuff, eh? It made me wonder what the heck Rochelle Olson wrote that was so offensive.

Conveniently, the person behind the grassroots effort to provide welfare to Zygi Wilf broke down his/her issues with Rochelle Olson to Sara Perlman Barrow on Twitter:

Do People Trust Rochelle Olson?

Not trusting a reporter sounds pretty serious.

A Shoddy Reporting Track Record?

With a history of shoddy reporting?

Employable?

Is she even employable?

Unethical or Incompetent?

Bold statements. With accusations like that, @VIKESSTADIUM better be able to back them up.

Specific Unethical Examples?

Sweet! Let’s see them!

Specific Concrete Examples

Okay already, @VIKESSTADIUM, put up or shut up.

Stadium Costs Going Down?

Hey, look at that! @VIKESSTADIUM provided a specific, concrete example of Rochelle Olson’s supposedly inaccurate or unethical reporting. Now we can go look at what Olson actually wrote to see for ourselves.

In their bid to solidify support for a new stadium in Arden Hills, the Minnesota Vikings are considering paying more money than the team already pledged to its construction and accept a fixed roof to limit the total cost.

followed by this:

As for a non-retractable roof more like the Metrodome’s, [Vikings Vice President Lester] Bagley said, “we’re trying to bring the cost down to make it work. It’s got to work physically and financially.”

Bagley cautioned that all components of the deal are under discussion and that nothing is final. Since a deal was announced in May, reports have indicated that the overall price has fallen as much as $200 million and the team has boosted its proposed share by $30 million. Bagley said owner Zygi Wilf won’t reveal details until a deal is finalized.

It sure seems to me like Olson reported that the costs would go down if a non-retractable roof was used, and that months and months of negotiations appear to have lead to reworking of the project into something a bit more affordable (although still absurd, in my opinion). Could someone explain to me what’s inaccurate or unethical about was written here?

When Lester Bagley said, “we’re trying to bring the cost down to make it work.” I suppose it could have meant “we’ve trying to bring the cost down to make it work, but haven’t been able to figure out how to shave even one dollar off the cost of a $1 billion proposal.” If that was what he said, it would be accurate to suggest that costs haven’t come down. But, it seems obvious that months of negotiations and changes to roof designs would indeed lower the costs whether the new total costs have been publicly announced or not.

In order for Olson’s reporting on this seems to be inaccurate, the Vikings would have to have made absolutely no progress in the past months to figure out a way to lower costs, which would be counter to what Lester Bagley suggested.

Vikings Proposal Map

I’d like to pause for a second to say that @VIKESSTADIUM has done a nice job providing specific and concrete accusations. That makes it easy to determine for ourselves if they are accurate accusations or not. Thanks, @VIKESSTADIUM!

Now, about this accusation, here is what Rochelle Olson wrote regarding who’s map was presented at the Rotary Club event where Zygi Wilf was presenting. As in, materials handed out in the room that the owner of the Vikings was presenting to:

A red circle on a map has become the latest obstacle that Vikings owner Zygi Wilf might have to overcome to win support for his proposed stadium in Arden Hills.

The circle, surrounding 120 acres next to Wilf’s planned 260-acre stadium parcel, drew gasps last week at a St. Paul Rotary luncheon when business leaders saw the label imposed on it — “Potential Convention Center Hotel.”

Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett, the Vikings’ key stadium ally, said that Wilf isn’t looking to build a “major” convention center that would compete with those in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Instead, there might be a “medium-sized convention center/hotel” at the stadium site, Bennett said.

“It’s just a concept. It may change,” he added.

Within a day, Bennett and the Vikings backpedaled, saying the map passed out at the luncheon was out of date.

Notice that there is no reference to who presented the map, which runs counter to what @VIKESSTADIUM wrote. To be absolutely clear, @VIKESSTADIUM stated “Despite knowing the map wasn’t Vikings’, she reported it was…” which is false. Read the entire article. Can you find what @VIKESSTADIUM claims? I didn’t think so.

Olson did go on to report that Vikings stadium welfare fanboy / Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett was well aware of the map with the convention center plan since he spoke about that on the record. I suppose we could be stupid enough to assume that the Ramsey County Commissioner is working on plans for land controlled by Zygi Wilf behind his back, and slipping those plans in front of an audience while Zygi Wilf is on stage. But, I don’t think we’re really that stupid. In fact, if you’re going to jump to the conclusion that the map belonged to the Vikings, you’d be jumping from some very solid ground laid by Commissioner Bennett.

We would have to assume that someone unaffiliated with the Vikings is in the business of drawing up plans for convention centers in Arden Hills on land that would be controlled by Zygi Wilf, and handing them out at events while Wilf is presenting. Beyond that, we’d have to assume that a Ramsey County Commissioner was willing to speak knowledgeably about a convention center proposal tied to the Vikings Stadium site, while at the same time believing that the Vikings were not involved in that plan for the space next to the stadium (space controlled by Wilf).

Beyond that, let’s look at how the Pioneer Press reported on the same issue:

Wilf, a real estate mogul who has built homes and businesses in most of the 50 states, ducked a question about who would control development rights in two areas north and south of the stadium. He said his primary focus was the stadium itself and that those sites would take five to 10 years to develop.

On maps distributed to each lunch table, the two spots are designated “potential corporate campus” and “potential convention center/hotel complex.”

According to an agreement between the county and the team, Wilf would retain development rights to those parcels, totaling about 200 acres.

“He would own the 50 acres up on one end and 120 acres on the south end,” Bennett said later.

Now, let’s assume for a second that @VIKESSTADIUM is right. @VIKESSTADIUM claims that the maps distributed to tables at an event where the owner of the Vikings was presenting were not from the Vikings (painfully hard to believe, but play along for a second). Assuming that @VIKESSTADIUM is right, what could Zygi Wilf have done differently when asked about the maps on the tables at the event where he was speaking? Perhaps rather than ducking questions about the proposals on the map, he could have said that the maps are not the Vikings’ plans. Zygi Wilf did not do that. Instead, he ducked the question and had his people backpedal on the issue after the fact. That’s not the behavior of someone who was somehow ambushed by real estate plans for land he would control.

After looking through @VIKESSTADIUM’s specific and concrete examples of Rochelle Olson’s supposedly inaccurate and biased reporting, I’ve come to the conclusion that Olson’s reporting appears to be accurate and in sync with the work of two reporters at a competing newspaper.

In the end, I think @VIKESSTADIUM’s expectations of Rochelle Olson may be the real problem here. Olson is a journalist, which should not be confused with the work of a typical sports reporter. While both are employed by newspapers, they do different work.

9 thoughts on “@VIKESSTADIUM’s Reading Comprehension Issues”

  1. Problem is, Rochelle Olson reported the stadium cost HAD gone down a month or so back, not that there were discussions of lowering the cost. That wasn’t true when she reported it, nor to my knowledge is it true now.

    And Ed, we both know a paper can go back and change the wording in it’s stories. I believe Rochelle did say initially that the map belonged to the Vikings. And based on was Mr. Anderson Tweeted, it appears as though she was told this, yet chose to write that anyways.

  2. @Jim, if you check the timestamps of Jeff’s tweets and the StarTribune’s last updated timestamp, this doesn’t appear to be a case of a story evolving post-criticism. I could be wrong, but I’m not seeing what you suggest in this case.

    It sounds like you were referring to this article from June 30th that was co-written by Mike Kaszuba and Rochelle Olson:

    http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/124751418.html

    It sounds like they relied upon off the record sources familiar with closed door negotiations at the time. It seems strange to suggest that those statements aren’t true, considering that Lester Bagley was quoted in the same piece. Considering that a political reporter, Kaszuba, was a co-author of that piece, perhaps their source was someone on the government side of the deal?

    Of course, since things didn’t get done back in June, it’s possible that the plan that was taking shape then is now off the table. But, that’s much different than suggesting that what was reported at the time was not true.

  3. I don’t need to check the time stamps. I read the initial story and saw, first-hand, her wording. And regardless of how you rationalize the statements on the price drop of the stadium, what was reported wasn’t factual. Maybe they should do a little fact checking before reporting. Unless of course, their goal is to mislead.

  4. My bad, I guess writing that the stadium price “has decreased” when it in fact hasn’t is good journalism. And I don’t recall posting anything here today that either supports or opposes the new Vikings stadium. I’m merely pointing out the flaws in your temper tantrum like rants.

  5. @”Jim Bratz”, it sounds like we aren’t going to be able to agree on whether reporters are capable of reporting on Vikings stadium negotiations beyond what is put out in official press releases. Personally, I am interested in learning while you seem to be more interested in selling the public on giving hundreds of millions of dollars of welfare to Ziggy Wilf. Different approaches to the same topic, I suppose. In my reality based world, experienced reporters like Rochelle Olson and Mike Kaszuba can report things like this:

    “Sources reported early Wednesday that stadium negotiators had dropped the cost of the $1 billion proposed project by nearly $200 million while the Vikings had upped their contribution from $407 million.”

  6. Again, when have I advocated either for or against public subsidies for the stadium? And you’re accusing others of having “reading comprehension” issues? That’s laughable. And I am interested in learning, but think the best way to do that is to read information that is accurate. Still waiting for your explanation of how reporting that the stadium cost “HAS gone down” when it had in fact NOT gone down is anything but lousy journalism. Take your time as I would appreciate a thought out response instead of rambling accusations and personal attacks. You are capable of that, aren’t you?

  7. And the point is, what sources? EVERYONE denied her report that day. When do you start doubting the competency of the reporter? This isn’t the only instance where she has either been burned by a source, or worse yet, made assumptions she shouldn’t have and tried to pass them off as legit news.

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