Fact-checking the RGJ’s fact ‘checker’ for failing to check on his ‘facts’; UPDATE

Victor Joecks

Update 5/2/2014: I just had a very nice conversation with Kelly Ann Scott, executive editor of the RGJ about Mark Robison’s column. Mark is currently on vacation.

It turns out that searching for Reno firefighters one way produces accurate data, as reflected in the below statement, and searching for it the way Robison did produces duplicate entries and does show there’s something wrong with the way the site is compiling data. It’s important to note that none of the records were inaccurate, but searching in a particular way did produce some records twice.

I apologized to Kelly for my inaccurate charges and have emailed Mark an apology as well.

Of course, I’d like any reporter to call for comment before writing something negative about our site, but I know deadlines made that challenging in this case.

As I said in my statement, we do make mistakes and this was one. I’m happy to report we’ve identified the problem and are about to fix it.


We’ve just sent the following statement to the Reno Gazette-Journal about an inaccurate column today impugning NPRI’s TransparentNevada.

Mark Robison, in his May 2 “Fact Checker” column, inaccurately describes the government-employee-compensation data at TransparentNevada.com, which comes directly from the City of Reno, and then implies that the website’s information is inaccurate and unreliable.

The inaccuracies, however, are Robison’s.   

Among his column’s many factual errors are two that stand out in particular. First, there are no Reno firefighters with duplicate 2013 compensation records at TransparentNevada, despite Robison’s claim to the contrary. Many Reno firefighters have 2012 or 2011 salary records, but those aren’t duplicate records that require “cleaning up,” as Robison puts it.

Second, TransparentNevada’s records include 127 Reno firefighters who meet Robison’s compensation criteria — not 101, as Robison claims.

The bigger problem, however, is that Robison never reached out to the Nevada Policy Research Institute, which operates TransparentNevada, to ask for an explanation of what he believed to be problems with the site. This would have been an important thing for a “fact checker” to check.

Everyone makes mistakes — including us — but if Robison had simply called, we would have been happy to point out his mistakes before his error-laden column went to print. Unfortunately, his decision not to check with NPRI before impugning our site in print and online has left his readers misinformed.

The RGJ should immediately correct his column online, and notify its print-edition readers of the errors.

You can read Robison’s column to get the full context, but rest assured the data on TransparentNevada comes directly from the government entities. It is the most reliable and accurate source for government compensation data in Nevada.