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Often when a reporter uses phrases like "declined to answer questions", "had no comment for this article", and "did not respond to requests for an interview", it's usually not good for the person the story is about.

At least it did not bode well for those who refused to answer questions posed by The Record's Jeff Pillets in a series of articles he wrote about EnCap that has recently earned him accolades from his peers. The EnCap series was also "selected as a finalist in the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting," (The Record, 8/22/08).

So it seems like a double standard when North Jersey Media Group Vice-President/Editor Frank Scandale declined to confirm or deny any investigation of Pillets by the New Jersey State Police for allegedly swiping some documents from the Department of Environmental Protection.

Instead Scandale punted's inquires to the Attorney General Office's who also declined to comment.

But of course. That's standard operating procedure for law enforcement folks. It's not for a newspaper organization.

When you have nothing to hide, it's always better to respond rather than hide behind the proverbial "no comment." That's one reason The Record and Pillets should just answer the questions.

Here's another.

Pillets is part of the team of journalists from The Record up for the Kevin Carmody Award For Outstanding Investigative Reporting selected by the Society of Environmental Journalists "for their continuing investigation of EnCap, the failed landfill-to-golf-links redevelopment in the Meadowlands" according to the paper's own boasting.

Five of the team's stories published since December 2006 were so outstanding The Record is among 30 finalists out of 230-plus entries selected for one of the industry's top honors by SEJ's panels of esteemed journalists and journalism educators.

The awardswill be announcedat the SEJ's annual conference in Roanoke, Va., on Oct. 15.

As The Record's own environmental reporting proves, "no comments" only taint the record.

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