A St. Petersburg-based blogger who has consulted for a number of prominent politicians resigned from the Tallahassee-based Florida Press Association last week after objections were raised by other members of the organization.
Dean Ridings, press association president and CEO, said Peter Schorsch, creator and editor of the influential SaintPetersBlog, which is followed by many journalists, politicians and lobbyists across the state, was advised of the objections and that he “offered” his resignation.
Schorsch said Thursday that while he wanted to be a member, and is increasing ethical guidelines for his blog, part of his decision was due to being “taunted” by certain members of the media.
“While I am sure me being a member of the FPA would have been mutually beneficial to me and the organization, it was simply not worth the effort to fight for admission to that particular club,” Schorsch said in an email.
Shortly after SaintPetersBlog was granted membership, Schorsch was the subject of a less-than-flattering piece Nov. 15 by the Tampa Bay Times.
Ridings called the Times report an “interesting story.”
“We certainly read that and there were certainly issues in the story that were of interest to us,” Ridings said. “We don’t police how our members act, but we are certainly interested in our members conducting themselves in an ethical manner.”
The article, which Schorsch has described on his blog as a “hatchet job,” claimed Schorsch pressured at least five people involved in Tampa Bay-area politics to purchase ad space in exchange for positive stories or to delete previously posted negative posts.
After the Times piece came out, Schorsch said in the email Thursday, he asked Ridings to gauge the reaction from the association and if there had been opposition to his membership.
“He contacted me a couple of weeks later and said that he and his board members had, in fact, heard some objections,” Schorsch wrote. “I thought about it for five minutes and then emailed my resignation — and asked for my due check to be refunded.”
Schorsch announced his resignation Dec. 3 in a tweet.
Ridings noted that no objections had been raised prior to Schorsch’s application being approved.
“His application was in our e-bulletin twice, and I asked for comments and there were no comments,” Ridings said.
Among those who raised objections were people from The News Service of Florida and the Associated Press.
“It would have been very helpful if they did that beforehand,” Ridings said.
A question for groups such as the press association, a non-profit that includes every daily newspaper and most of the weekly newspapers in Florida, is how to embrace new types of digital media such as bloggers.
Schorsch announced Nov. 7 that the application by Extensive Enterprises Media — which owns the rights to SaintPetersBlog.com — for membership into the association had been approved.
In the blog posting that announced the approval, Schorsch noted he expected concerns that some members would object but there “was nary a peep.”
–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida
Note: FlaglerLive Editor Pierre Tristam and columnist Steve Robinson had been contributors to ContextFlorida, the opinion website Schorsch created earlier this year, until the revelations of the Times story. By way of second chances, FlaglerLive resumed running ContextFlorida columns in February 2013.