This week’s events were not the way we at The Alestle imagined our publication’s name to be published on search engines and on local news sites.
Last Wednesday, a political operative for U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis pretended to be a reporter from The Alestle in order to get in on a conference call with Congressional Candidate Betsy Dirksen Londrigan. During his time on the call, he made calculated questions and accusations against the politician.
We want to make it clear that Nick Klintzing, who went by the alias of "Jim Sherman," never worked as a reporter for The Alestle. Klintzing is the former executive director of the Illinois Republican Party and former deputy campaign manager for former Gov. Bruce Rauner, according to multiple news reports.
He has admitted to falsely identifying himself as a reporter for The Alestle to get into a conference call with Londrigan, who is running against Davis.
Secondly, our reporters are trained to speak to public officials in a courteous and respectful manner. When we approach those we are about to interview, we make sure to remain objective and ask questions that are truth-seeking, not agenda-setting. We at The Alestle pride ourselves on making sure the stories we are writing don’t fit our own personal politics, but simply tell the truth.
We also want to make it clear that we had no inside information that this incident was occurring. When WCIA’s reporter Mark Maxwell contacted our Editor-in-Chief, he did introduce himself as a reporter. However, he started asking questions that led our editor to believe this was a personnel issue. The incident of the impersonator pretending to be an Alestle reporter was not mentioned until after the initial questioning.
Editor-in-Chief Miranda Lintzenich said no one by the name of Jim Sherman has ever worked for The Alestle for at least the past 11 years.
“If someone in a political party feels they have the freedom to impersonate a student reporter, who draws the line next?” Lintzenich said. “Student media is just as important as the next larger publication and situations like these should be taken very seriously.”
SIUE Student Publications Program Director Tammy Merrett said this is not the first time something like this has occurred, but has no idea why The Alestle was targeted.
"We do not condone or train our reporters to interview in the way the Davis operative did -- which was not really interviewing at all. If someone on The Alestle staff were to do such a thing, they would be dismissed immediately," Merrett said. "The Dirksen Londrigan campaign also bears responsibility in that it did not vet the credentials of those participating in the call well. This is on both campaigns and has nothing whatsoever to do with The Alestle."
The Alestle will continue to update as more information becomes available.