On Allegations and Journalistic Falsehoods

I received a brief email a couple hours ago from Coates Bateman, an executive director at True/Slant and the person who brought me onboard to this site. His message brought something to my attention that I would have never known about otherwise, and I’m thankful for what he wrote to every True/Slant writer and on the site itself:

Again, I’m happy to address any questions and correct the factual errors posted at the above link.

Coates regularly sends out updates to everyone who writes for True/Slant with information about technical issues, changes to the site and just about anything a blogger would want to know about. He’s been a genuinely wonderful person to work with. So, I was confused about David Appell’s complaints about True/Slant. If it made the Twitter rounds for Romenesko and Poynter, there must be something there, right?

I checked out Appell’s blog to see his complaints, and was left a little befuddled.

Appell wrote four quick complaints about why True/Slant abuses writers. Or rather, more accurately, how he felt True/Slant abused him. (I have yet to hear or see any other writer complain, so at this point, it’s just Appell’s issues.)

Of the issues Appell alleged, there was no evidence provided to substantiate his claims and there was some pretty heady accuracy issues.

First, he spelled True/Slant Founder and CEO Lewis DVorkin‘s name incorrectly in a statement that said “Dworkin” ignored his inquiry into his payment issue. Then, Appell complained that a couple of people never got back to him about the issue, and somehow never thought to enquire elsewhere about his complaints. The final issue listed was that Coates allegedly terminated Appell’s contract after asking Coates about the issue.

What set off flags for me with that final complaint was the alleged termination. Appell posted these issues to his personal blog at 3 p.m. on Friday. He then wrote this entry at 5:53 p.m. on his True/Slant account:

It turns out that True/Slant doesn’t honor the contracts it signs with writers, so I’m terminating my stint here and am going back to my old home at

Sounds like one big ball of confusion. Who’s terminating what exactly? Hard to tell. But what’s interesting is that Appell still had access to his True/Slant blog after the alleged contract termination, and that his complaints about True/Slant remain on the website.

Unlike Appell, I won’t speak for every writer here, but I’ve had a fantastic experience writing for True/Slant. Anytime I had a technology issue, it was dealt with quickly. If there was something Coates felt would benefit my True/Slant blog, he’d send me an email about it. And if, for some reason, someone at True/Slant couldn’t get back to me immediately, I’d hear from them as soon as they could get back to me.

True/Slant has been in existence for less than a year and has a massive roster of writers. I cannot imagine the work that the full-time True/Slant staff must put into this site. I find it odd that Appell would belittle the hard work of people at True/Slant with what seems like a minor personal complaint. I just hope that readers out there can distinguish between the complaints of an irate blogger and the experiences of everyone else associated with True/Slant.


2 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Steve Weinberg #

    If treats any contributors unfairly, that is news to me.

    My tenure as a contributor began in September. During 40 years as a professional journalist, I’ve served as a newspaper reporter, newspaper editor, magazine staff writer, magazine editor, freelance writer for newspapers and magazines and Web-only publications, plus completed books for eight different publishers. That means I have written for literally hundreds of editors at 100 or more media organizations.

    I generally get along well with editors. That said, I have never dealt with more considerate, accessible editors than those at Trueslant. Most of my dealings are with the superb Katie Drummond. But when I’ve dealt occasionally with others, including Coates Bateman, I have been equally impressed.

    The problems raised by David Appell appear to be isolated.

  2. Caitlin Kelly #

    I get more thanks and help from Coates and Katie than any editors I’ve also ever worked for. I’ve made new T/S friends/colleagues off-line. I enjoy T/S and am happy to have found a home here — helping it attain 1m visitors.

    What Steve said.

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