Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Burned

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This has been a really, really crummy day.

We occasionally agree to go off the record with someone, though far less often than some people may think; and when we do, we never violate the confidentiality of that source. We just don’t — we wouldn’t have anyone talking to us if we burned sources or reneged on agreements.

And then every once in a while it works the other way.

I came across a potentially good story a ways back while reading a public body’s board minutes online, something I do on a regular basis.

I called the public institution, which was quite taken aback to find that the information had ended up in the public domain. It wasn’t ready to go ahead with the project in the minutes, hadn’t intended that it be posted, and asked if I would agree to hold off until the project was ready to proceed.

Short version, at the request of the public institution, I agreed not to publish right away, in return for a promise that when the institution was ready to go public, I would get an exclusive ahead of all the other media, with more detailed information that would make a better story.

Deal.

I checked back every few months, and was told that the institution wasn’t ready to go, but don’t worry, we had an agreement that I would get it first.

So this morning I’m at home, working on a 2-10 p.m. shift the next two weeks; I get an email from my editors, and the public institution has called a noon news conference to announce something major to all the media at the same time. The subject is pretty obvious.

And the people at the institution?

Nothing they could do, they tell me --- my deal was with them alone, and not with them and their never-before-mentioned partner in the project.

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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