More sources for Crain’s incendiary article retract their statements, criticize reporters, editors.

My businesses sell great products, employ great people, and endeavor to do business ethically. If you’re a stakeholder in one of them — investor, vendor, client, or customer — please let us know how we’re doing. And please tell whomever you’d like about your experience with our businesses. We’re still feeling some effects from a really crappily-reported article about us this past summer in Crain’s Chicago Business. If you’ve loved working with us or interacting with us, the grassroots love goes a long way.

Ever since that article, and the rebuttal I published last month, I’ve been hearing that the folks quoted in that piece aren’t so happy with the excerpting job the reporters and editors did. By that I mean that if they said 100 words about me, 93 of which were positive and 7 of which were criticism, Crain’s seems to have gone with the 7 and not indicated that the 93 exist.

Now sure, Crain’s might say that they were “investigating” a news story about X, so only statements about X are relevant to their article. To which I say that they have an obligation to at least roughly portray the true balance between supportive statements and criticism. Otherwise you’re just another supermarket tabloid. You’re paparazzi waiting for someone to slip up and reveal their new love handles.

Take, for instance, Shaye Robeson at Dollop Coffee. Shaye sent over this statement about his experience interacting with the Crain’s reporter for the story:

Peter Frost of Crain’s went out of his way to try and harm me and my companies.

“When Crain’s interviewed me…I shared many positive things about him and my experiences in dealing with Phil. Crain’s failed to print the positive attributes I said about Phil. I regret being interviewed and feel mislead. I ask that Crain’s retract my ‘statement’ and perceived support of the extremely harsh article.”

Another one of Crain’s sources, my partner at Aquanaut Eric McNeil, had this to say about his experience with the Crain’s reporter:

Peter Frost of Crain’s went out of his way to try and harm me and my companies.

“On July 9, Crain’s Chicago Business released an article quoting me about certain personnel and operations at Aquanaut Beer Company. At the end of my statement I am quoted as stating “We now have our own operations guy who is helping keep me updated on our activity.” That quote was out of context in relation to the rest of my statement. The context into which it was placed mistakenly gave the impression that Aquanaut had not had operations personnel operating in such a position prior to the articles’ events. As was apparent from the full, unpublished, statements, Aquanaut had always employed someone in that role to help keep us on schedule to profitability and healthy growth. The hiring was neither new, nor did it result from activities discussed in the article. I ask that this clarification be made as to not make my statement misleading.”

So Crain’s did a disastrous job of characterizing interviews with people who work or have worked with me. But even worse was Crain’s tendency to not name their sources.

Taking cues from what readers say they need, the best journalists today believe you should name your sources unless 1. what they’re disclosing is unlawful, or 2. the statements look so bad for their bosses they’ll likely face punishment, or 3. they’re in an industry (say, police) where you face very real danger for talking. The Crain’s article didn’t meet any of these criteria. It wasn’t the quality journalism its readers expect, and they deserve to know that.

I even had standing to sue (and in fact did sue) the investor who most likely put Crain’s onto the story and has since smeared the reputation of these businesses in countless other ways. That’s after he likely had his lawyers look over all the evidence he had, and apparently couldn’t find standing for himself to bring a suit.

My hope is that with the impending departure of its publisher, Crain’s will start covering me and my businesses like the hard-charging little startups they are. Some legit news coverage about my businesses — doesn’t have to be positive, just correct — would go a long way to dispelling the myth they’ve created.

And if you’ve read and see the merit in my take on things, please stick up for us. I’ll always stick up for you.

Your neighbor,

Phi Tadros

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