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    The Fallout from Foxwoods

    Posted by Coffee January 12, 2014

    On January 9, a Facebook post by the UAW’s Local 2121 (which manages the dealers’ representation at Foxwoods) indicated that poker photojournalist Jay “WhoJedi” Newnum had been arrested at Foxwoods for stealing tips out of the dealers’ dropboxes during their December Megastack tournament series. One day later, a story by Pokerfuse reiterated the allegations and cited court documents that indicated Mr. Newnum’s plea, guilt, and subsequent adjudication.

    Tangentially, the 2121’s post was reposted into the News, Views and Gossip section of TwoPlusTwo on the same day the Pokerfuse story broke. What has followed has been over 500 posts that have touched on a variety of topics surrounding the event, but even more disturbingly, cries of condemnation and contempt for the existing poker media coverage of the event. The thread has created a sharp divide between the players themselves and those who report on all things poker.

    The main source of contention has revolved around the fact that many respected poker reporters have personal relationships with Mr. Newnum. To this point, his character and integrity had never been questioned, and indeed, many leading voices (such as Kevin Mathers and BJ Nemeth) were dismissive of the charges against him. Even after the truth of the incident fully came to light, many of them have been excoriated within this thread and on Twitter and Facebook pages for what has been described as a refusal to write negatively about one of their own.

    Some of these reporters, in turn, have indicated that they would be reserving judgment and full statement beyond support for their friend until the full facts came out. To their minds, the amount of evidence available had not risen to the level of coverage. Even after a post by the union’s president on the thread, most of these writers have remained steadfast in both their support of their comrade and in their pledge to wait for further corroboration.

    This debate has touched on a broader issue surrounding the level and impartiality of press coverage available to us as a consuming public. Fading are the days of institutional media outlets. The internet has largely given voice to what are, essentially, cottage industries of journalism. However, we still expect that our news be delivered impartially, accurately and with a steadfast avoidance of bias.

    Most poker writers are part-time workers (myself included – my alter ego is a high school math teacher). We do not possess the resources (time or financial) to conduct the level of diligence that history commands the NEWS (all capitals) employ. Most of what we write can best be described as features – fact-based pieces that transition into opinion statements about what we observe. Even full-time writers, such as Mr. Mathers or Mr. Nemeth, work for organizations without the resources to fly their reporters cross-country on a whim in search of the fullest of disclosures.

    Does this mean that these organizations are unworthy to write about poker? Of course not – feature writers can provoke discussion, thought and movement within their appointed subcultures. However, all poker media outlets (including this one) would do well to understand that as we (as a community) gain in visibility, respectability and professionalism, so too must our related industries. Rising standards have collateral effects.

    In other words, it’s fine if Jay Newnum is your friend – but anyone who makes a dime writing about poker has a greater responsibility to their craft, particularly since, as the thread mentioned many times, these writers would’ve had no qualms writing about the ill-fortunes of a well-known poker player. Surely Greg Raymer could attest to that.

    There are 8 Comments

    1. - January 12, 2014

      Well done Quad-Jacks….
      Well done !!

    2. Hippy80
      - January 13, 2014

      Yet the only true evidence that has been made public is a single post on a Facebook page, nothing else can be taken as any more than hearsay.
      We can’t take Jay’s silence as incriminating, it’s even one of his rights under the law.
      While the circumstantial evidence is strong that this Facebook post is correct, it has not, in my opinion anyway, achieved the level where it can be truly claimed to be reportable.
      I have been unable to find any court documentation on this case, and I’ve looked pretty hard, and Foxwoods are keeping quiet.
      If we can take a single Facebook post as proof, Doyle Brunson has died more times than I can count, Ivey is both Busto and living the high life, and I can grow my penis by 5″ just by taking a pill.
      While I am not defending Jay, or damning him for that matter, I would like some accountability in Poker media.
      I was part of QJ when the big backlash hit after they reported rumours based on little more than the evidence in this case. Theese rumours turned out to be false, and the poker community went nuts over it.
      If the community wants accurate news, it has to wait for real evidence to be released, and not ask writers to publish at every rumour.

    3. - January 13, 2014

      Excuse me, but where and when was I “dismissive” of the charges against Jay Newnum? My initial post on 2+2 came the morning after the news broke at midnight, acknowledged the possibility that the allegations could be true, and only suggested that overnight silence against such a big allegation wasn’t an automatic admission of guilt. How is that dismissive?

      Pretty much every 2+2 post I’ve written since then has been defending myself from attacks that assume I have a different role in the poker media than I actually do.

      I’ve been very careful in my comments to avoid saying anything like “Jay definitely didn’t do this,” because I don’t know. The only confirmation I’ve received is the article from PokerFuse, but nobody else has been able to dig up the court records. (Kudos to Jeff Walsh for doing it, though.)

      You also state that I am a full-time writer, followed by a link to Bluff Magazine that implies a connection. Sorry, but I have never been a full-time writer at Bluff Magazine. I have never been a part-time writer at Bluff Magazine. I have never been a freelance writer at Bluff Magazine. I have never even been a tournament reporter for Bluff Magazine. I believe they published one article of mine back in 2006. That’s it.

      I am not a full-time writer.

      I am a freelance poker reporter and photographer, and my primary contract is with the World Poker Tour. I travel to tournaments about once or twice a month and report on the action from the felt — I am effectively a play-by-play sports reporter.

      If you go thru my tournament updates after major scandals that affect players, you’ll see that those scandals NEVER get mentioned in my updates, whether the player is a friend of mine or I despise them.

      (If a player receives a tournament penalty for some reason, then I report it because it affects the action of the tournament..)

      Yet for some reason I am one of only two poker reporters mentioned by name in the thread.

      “… these writers would’ve had no qualms writing about the ill-fortunes of a well-known poker player. Surely Greg Raymer could attest to that.”

      Certainly nothing about Greg Raymer’s situation ever made it into my live updates, or even to my Twitter feed. (Unless you count my calls to respect Raymer’s privacy and not joyfully pile-on to the news story.)

      I will be happy to discuss this on-the-record via email (which was used to submit this comment), but I would really like an explanation as to why my name is used so prominently in connection to things that don’t apply to me.

      • Coffee
        - January 13, 2014

        Mr. Nemeth:

        Your first post within the 2+2 thread included the following phrase:

        “I am a close friend of Jay’s, and he has my unconditional support in this situation, regardless of what happened.”

        For me to characterize this as dismissive is to put it lightly. Your later attempt to clarify this statement did nothing to assuage its meaning or power. Furthermore, nobody forced you to insert yourself into the thread.

        As far as the link to Bluff magazine, I hyperlinked it as an example, rather than an exhaustive list – Mr. Mathers certainly has ties to that publication, but I never explicitly suggested that you did, as well…although your actual contract (with the WPT) would fall under the point I was making, anyway.

        You are upset about being called a full-time reporter, yet your profiles on both Twitter and TwoPlusTwo describe you as a poker tournament reporter. From your TwoPlusTwo profile: “I am probably the most senior live tournament reporter in the poker biz. I am currently the lead online reporter for WorldPokerTour.com.” With all due respect, at what point do you consider yourself full-time?

        Finally, I mentioned Mr. Raymer’s situation as an example (and linked to the Cardplayer article) of the poker media’s willingness to cover the misfortunes of prominent players. I believe you that you’ve avoided these kinds of conversations in the past, and will continue to do so. However, by positioning yourself as someone closer to the situation than most (I certainly have no contact with Mr. Newnum), you became a lightning rod.

        I regret if you felt “smeared” by this article – no one person was meant to be of particular focus. I hope this helps to clarify your concerns.

    4. - January 13, 2014

      Thinking of comparable stories, all I can come up with are the Bellagio poker dealer who palmed $1K chips from high limit pots, and the Planet Hollywood floor staff stealing from the high hand jackpot. Both of those involved substantially greater amounts of money than the WhoJedi allegations (by an order or two of magnitude). If poker media, or particular members of the media, didn’t cover those stories, why should they cover the WhoJedi story?

    5. - January 13, 2014

      Thank you for posting my comment and responding to it.

      I accept that my name being included in the third paragraph is fair, even though I disagree with it. However, my name has no business at all being in the sixth paragraph.

      I don’t work for a media outlet that is anything like Bluff Magazine, and haven’t since 2006. I am a part-time freelance contractor working for a television show called the World Poker Tour. I provide play-by-play updates online for people who want to follow the action as it happens rather than wait weeks or months for the TV show to air.

      That being the case, my name has no place in the sixth paragraph of this article, where it’s heavily implied that I am being a bad journalist and ignoring an important news story. That section also feeds directly into the last paragraph, where it’s implied that writers like me had no problem writing about Greg Raymer’s ill-fortune. Nothing from the sixth paragraph on down has anything to do with me or my employer.

      Please delete my name from the sixth paragraph.

      I’m also curious why you’re naming me and Kevin Mathers in the sixth paragraph instead of the Editors-in-Chief for the media outlets in question. It’s *their* decision whether or not to run a story in a case like this. Have you tried to contact any of them to get their take on the matter?

      • - January 14, 2014

        Wouldn’t change a thing about this article.
        It’s spot on.

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