Bob Plain is the editor/publisher of Rhode Island's Future. Previously, he's worked as a reporter for several different news organizations both in Rhode Island and across the country.

14 responses to “ProJo’s partner Inside Sources creates biased news”

  1. arosenberg

    I wish you had contacted me BEFORE publishing this story, Bob. If you had, I would have told you that we have not partnered with Inside Sources, despite the inflammatory wording of this post.

    The marijuana story was provided by the Tribune News Service, a highly respected wire service that provides us with stories from such newspapers as the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, and also sends us stories from other publications. We chose it ourselves. GateHouse does not tell us what to print.

    Seeing that you have questions about Inside Sources, I have reached out to Tribune News Service for more information about their decision to send their customers a story from that publication. Meanwhile, I have learned that the Inside Sources story is not alone in questioning how green the marijuana industry is. See these stories from The Washington Post and

    Next time you have a question, Bob, how about you ask it BEFORE you publish.

    Alan Rosenberg
    The Providence Journal

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  2. oppyman

    ProJo research found other articles similarly oriented to the one they discovered but didn’t vet the information in the articles. Why is it that only RI Future was able to note that the study cited was discredited and that the Inside Source story was written after the study was debunked?

    Speaking of Inside Source, Mr. Rosenberg indicates he has asked about receiving articles from Inside Source from his news service. He has noted that the Pro Jo editors selected the story. The next logical step, having learned about the nature of Inside Source, would be some comment on their propensity to not run stories from a sketchy biased source that seems to have a penchant for distributing deliberate misinformation but that next logical step is absent from Mr. Rosenberg’s response.

    Disturbing, but not really surprising at all.

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  3. DavidTPA

    As the President of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, I can tell you that the citation you used is very misleading. Mr. McCoy has never written for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance and has ZERO affiliation with us.

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  4. arosenberg

    As I said above, Tribune News Service provided the InsideSources story we ran yesterday — a news story, by the way, not an op-ed. As I also said above, I asked Tribune to respond to the concerns Bob raised.

    John Barron, editor/general manager of the Tribune Content Agency, of which TNS is a part, replied via email a few minutes ago. He notes that the so-called “discrediting” of the study cited in the InsideSources story comes from a self-described “cannabis-centric marketing & communications company” — hardly a disinterested source.

    With John’s permission, here is his full response:

    “InsideSources, which is a contributor to the Tribune Content Agency, is an independent news site.

    “It provides both original reporting and original commentary. TCA began distributing the content in January of this year after a vetting process that included study of the site and conversations with some of its editors.

    “InsideSources clearly labels its opinion pieces on its site. TCA only moves Inside Sources’ news content.

    “We have never received any complaints about their content.

    “InsideSources’ Publisher Shawn McCoy says, ‘We have reviewed the piece again and feel confident in its accuracy. The article extensively cites studies and experts.’

    “There is mention in RI Future that the New Frontier report–one of the studies cited in the story–has been discredited. The link that is provided in that article references NCV Wire, which is operated by New Cannabis Ventures, ‘a cannabis-centric marketing & communications company.’

    “According to the New Frontier website: ‘We take no stance on the legalization of cannabis across the nation. Our goal is to provide unbiased, authoritative, and actionable data that will allow our users: investors, policy makers, researchers and academics to make informed decisions in this growing industry.’ “

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  5. Sergio526

    Not surprised that they are on the take. I’ve noticed that whenever they run an article about the fracked gas power plant (which almost always has a pro slant) and I or anyone else posts a negative comment, within moments the negative comments have several down votes. Granted, I wouldn’t put it past Invenergy to pay someone to monitor the article, so maybe I’m judging them too harshly.

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  6. Bill Eccleston

    Credit to Mr. Rosenberg for engaging Mr. Plain in this dialog that gives us all an inside look into the vetting of news sources—a vital, vital issue in this day when professional journalism is drowning in a sea of discreditable sources, both amateur and deviously political.

    While this is only tangentially related to the energy-pot story, but since Sergio brought up the power plant, and Mr. Rosenberg is following this thread, I’d like to mention a current peeve a whole of us customers have with a Projo energy news story that is far more consequential. The Natl. Grid rate increase is the hottest media topic we’ve had statewide since the Gen. Assembly debacle, and will continue to be as the PUC hearing, and its final decision will stitch the story well into September.

    The bottom line of my thinking is that in our raucous little band-box of a state, the media market has long been able to afford only one “news source of record,” the Projo. But in its weakened state today, it hasn’t the staff or even the page-space to carry that burden without stumbling. And stumble it has in its reporting of the rate hike.

    The stumble has been so bad, that to a hockey-fan, who has taken the time to learn the real story of the rate hike, the Projo’s reporting so far looks like a “dive,” a deliberate, subtle fake whose purpose is to put power plant opponents, like Sergio, in the penalty box, and instigate the whole arena to boo them and hurl and beer cups and dead fish in their direction.

    However, familiar as I am with hockey, I do not assert that Alex Kuffner’s July 26 front page story on the rate hike was indeed a dive. But it was a very, very bad call on the part of the Projo. The subsequent use of that story’s failure to explain the cause of the rate hike, conveniently gave cover to editorialist Mr. Achorn, and power plant lobbyist, Doug Gablinske of the RI Energy Council, to their conjure their own explanation of the rate hike’s cause. An explanation, that in light of the real facts, might as well be added to the Tales from the Arabian Nights.

    How did that happen?

    I do not think for a moment that Kuffner did anything but what he thought was right in reporting the story. But he was mistaken, and reporters, like everyone else, do make mistakes. His was the mistake of omission. The essential facts about the rate hike’s cause were completely missing from his story. Again, one understands the dilemma, our newspaper of record ain’t what she used to be. If a story this big broke in 1980, say, there would have been, in the first place, a team of reporters assigned to it, and scrutinizing their copy would have been a team of editors, too. These editors certainly would have noticed that Kuffner’s copy contained no explanation of generating “capacity,” and when and where it comes from and how it led to to National Grid’s rate hike request—that in fact, IS NOT a request to hike our BILLS 53%, but the capacity portion of the “energy” portion of our bills.

    Now, Providence Business News didn’t do an exactly bang-up job of its own on the announcement, but it did point the reader in the right direction, the door marked “ISO New England Forward Capacity Auction #8” with the date “February, 2014” appended. Kuffner’s story, Mr. Rosenberg, didn’t. And so Mr. Achorn, Mr. Galblinske, Representative Sherry Roberts have teeded off, ignorantly, against power plant opponents, claiming, falsely that we have a power generating capacity shortage, and the first step we need to take to solve it is to forget about protecting our public investment those 25 square miles of forests, ponds and lakes up there in the Buck Hill woods of Burrilliville, and build that Invenergy power plant—-the tree-huggers be damned.

    Given the public impact of the rate hike story and the power plant story, Kuffner’s report was a serious mistake. Will you rectify it, Mr. Rosenberg, by having a follow-up written? One that thoroughly queries Natl Grid, and sources as well from the voluminous files online at ISO New England concerning Forward Capacity Auctions past and recent?

    In the final analysis, I think you owe that to your profession.

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  7. Journalistic Integrity At The ProJo - Providence Daily Dose

    […] But over at the Providence Journal the line between opinion and unbiased reporting is getting a little fuzzy. Bob Plain, editor and publisher at RI Future, has written an excellent piece about one article, “ProJo’s partner Inside Sources creates biased news.” […]

  8. cailin rua

    We’re back in the land of false dichotomy here. Contrary to Kevin Sabet and Patrick Kennedy, there has been great cannabis grown outdoors since the dawn of civilization up until its end, which occurred during the administration of Harry Anslinger. In spite of Anslinger’s make work project for his redundant revenue agents, however, high quality stuff continued to be produced outside. It just seems easier to grow inside nowadays rather than transport it from places far away. That’s too bad.

    In fact, right in the area around where the proposed Burillville Power Plant is supposed to be located was a pretty sophisticated growing operation involving many different strains of cannabis, all grown outside. My brother, before his untimely death, told me of it. He was allowed to visit it before the horticulturalist, who had Rastafaris coming up from New York on pilgrimages to his place, was busted by people who want to drive it underground – translation: indoors – just like those who wish to profit from its regulation “like alcohol”, replete with scaremongering designed to keep those w/ fat law enforcement pensions from profiting, the way they always have, by creating scarcity.

    Ah, these discussions take me back to the time when I was auditing those organic gardening classes at URI. I must have visited at least 3 or 4 nascent organic farming operations at the time. Figuring most prominently is the subsistence farm I visited in Hope Valley, which had a patch, in among the other gardens and hay fields, where there were stalks left behind of what the owner said were 7 foot tall plants the drug agents had taken down, philistines that they are/were.

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  9. cailin rua

    ” . . . just like those who wish to profit from its regulation “like alcohol”, replete with scaremongering designed to keep those w/ fat law enforcement pensions from profiting, the way they always have, by creating scarcity.

    >>>keep those w/ fat law enforcement pensions from profiting, . . .<<<

    Typo, of course, I meant to write:

    "keep those . . . profiting", not keep them from profiting. How I wish there were those who would keep other's profiting from the expense of those they other and even criminalize because of their otherness.

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  10. cailin rua

    grocer’s apostrophe thrown in free of charge.

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