With AACPS, the public record keeping is Orwellian in that “public documents” that later prove embarrassing are modified without any public notice of the change; that is, history is rewritten depending on the PR needs of the moment.  Somehow, I’m surprised when the local newspaper of record engages in similar practices.  Of course, the technical meaning of a “public document” is quite different for a public public and a local newspaper of record.  Still, newspapers present themselves as bastions of truthtelling.

For the current version of the story that is the subject of this post, see Huang, Cindy, School board nominating panel doesn’t do background checks, Capital, January 17, 2016, p. A1.  The story was also the Capital‘s lead story in the Sunday newspaper on January 17, 2016, p. A1.

Here is the First version of the Capital‘s article, posted at 12:18 pm on January 16, 2016.

School Board nominee withdraws application

A candidate for the Anne Arundel County Board of Education withdrew his application Saturday.

Timothy Boston, a former teacher, did not provide a reason for his decision in his email notification Saturday to the Chair Jamie Falcon and Vice Chair Amalie Brandenburg of the School Board Nominating Commission.

Boston was one of four candidates recommended to Gov. Larry Hogan for two position on the school board.

He received eight votes from the 11 member commission earlier this month.

The group also chose Terry Gilleland, a former Republican state Delegate, James Appel, who works the Hogan administration, and Maria Sasso, a real estate agent, from seven applicants.

The candidates are vying for the District 30 and District 31 seats, which opened up July 1, 2015. Debbie Ritchie and Solon Webb are currently representating those districts on the school board and seeking reappointment.

The former commission, with former Gov. Martin O’Malley’s appointees, recommended four candidates for the same seats last summer to Hogan, he did not appoint them.

The 2015 candidates, Webb, Ritchie and Ray Leone and Lisa Shore, are still under consideration along with the recent recommendations from the new commission.

In September, he replaced O’Malley’s appointees with his own.

In October, following a request from County Executive Steve Schuh, Hogan asked the commission to reopen the application.

Here is a screen shot of the story:

2016-01-16--12-18pm; Capital--school board nominee withdraws application

My comment regarding the first version is copied below:

Such a withdrawal is unprecedented in the history of the SBNC. Did the SBNC tell Boston to withdraw?

Odd that the Capital would provide an update on the SBNC but not report on the SBNC’s both alleged and widely reported violation of Maryland statute in making its four nominations on January 7. If the alleged violation is correct, neither Boston nor any other nominee would need to withdraw because all their nominations would be invalidated under Maryland law.

Here is a link to the second version of the same article posted about 12 hours later, about midnight.  Note that there is no change in the time stamp.  It is not unusual for news articles to be changed, but it is unusual to do so without providing a last revision time stamp.  It is also unusual to essentially totally rewrite an article and then essentially completely delete the first version of the article.  Sometimes “corrections” are made without keeping the original, but corrections usually refer to changes of fact here and there.  In major newspapers, the corrections are also noted.

Note, too, that the Capital kept my comment on the first article even though it was much less appropriate for the revised/second article.  In the second article, we are given lots of reasons why Boston might have withdrawn.  In contrast, the first article said: “[Boston] did not provide a reason for his decision.”

The first Captial article also didn’t mention the SBNC’s violation of state statute that might disqualify the nominations.  The second one observes: “The legislation that convened the group requires it to hold two public meetings before making recommendations. There was only one public meeting on the candidates.”

Here is my reply comment to my comment, noting that the article to which my first comment was made no longer exists.  Kudos to the Capital for not deleting this reply comment:

Truly bizarre that this article was completely rewritten between the stated time it was posted, 12:18 pm on 1/16/2016, and when the completely rewritten version was published, around midnight on 1/17/2016, but with no change in the time stamp. The most important point was not clearly stated, which, as every Anne Arundel elected official knows by now, the nomination was technically invalid because it was not preceded by the two public hearings required by statute. The outcome is a vivid illustration of what happens when due process requirements are ignored.

For my Washington Post op-ed related to the Capital‘s reporting, see Did the Anne Arundel School Board Nominating Commission violate election law?, January 14, 2016.

When both your local governments and local newspaper of record indulge themselves in self-reinforcing memory holes, that’s quite a scary combination.