Friday, August 28, 2009

Former Scene Writer P.J. Tobia--Smooth Talker Has Stalker, Makes Gawker

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2009 at 5:05 PM

click to enlarge P.J. "Crockett" Tobia, as we remember him
  • P.J. "Crockett" Tobia, as we remember him
The Scene's bustling newsroom hasn't been the same since investigative reporter P.J. Tobia, the Sonny Crockett of news journalism, bid us adieu to become an embedded reporter in Afghanistan. Tobia's experiences there have led to several high-profile stories in The Washington Post, The Philadephia Inquirer and, most prestigious of all, The Nashville Scene. So who should pop up on Gawker this afternoon but our beloved Peter John Tobia, regarding a piece he wrote for True/Slant about a story on the Stars and Stripes site concerning the Rendon Group, a company that compiles background profiles on reporters who apply for embeds with the U.S. military. After managing to get a hold of his own Rendon report, Tobia found that the company had been closely monitoring and assessing his writings the way a psychotic jilted-lover stalks his/her ex:
I do think the reports are creepy though. These guys have read almost everything I've written in the last few years, even interviews I've given to local news blogs. Reading this report is like perusing the diary of your stalker. Rendon also classifies certain publication as "left leaning" which I find odd. Most troubling by far is that when S&S asked the military about Rendon, they denied the existence of these reports. I'm holding one of these reports in my hand right now, trust me, it exists. I've also met people who work for The Rendon Group in Kabul. In conversations, they deny that there is any nefarious objective to what they do. "We just help the military figure out what embed is right for a particular reporter," one Rendon employee told me over drinks. "If a reporter is classified as 'negative' they are less likely to go where the action is and more likely to be covering a platoon that guards sandbags in Herat."
We particularly found their concern about his work for a left-leaning publication entertaining, since here at the Scene offices, where pinkos like Woods, Ridley, Hargrove and myself ride roughshod through the halls, Tobia was considered just a smidge to the left of Rush Limbaugh. Which, of course, only made us love him more.

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