NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - In our lengthy interview, Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni was quick to discredit the story posted on TheTab.com, an online news site that showcases the work of students and other young journalists.
"That is a story that was written for a tabloid," Yenni told us. "And there are a lot of elements of that story that I truly believe are certainly fictional. It was written for a prize, a monetary prize, to get the most likes. One of the examples that they cited from the previous winner wanted was… it could have fictional parts, and you could certainly put those types of things into it. You wanted to be as salacious as possible."
The story was written by New Orleans native Alex Daigle, who's now at college at Brown University. The article didn't use Yenni's name but did detail an encounter with an elected official, who Daigle alleges "handed me the Dillard's bag, which held three pairs of designer underwear, worth $75 in total."
Daigle then says they kissed briefly.
"Again, that is a story that was written with fictional elements of it," Yenni continued in our interview. "A lot of salacious things in it, no question there was salacious things in it. The important thing I think everybody needs to know out of that story is that there was no sex."
"He gave the impression to your viewers through the course of that interview that we were running some sort of short story writing competition, that what we publish is essentially fiction," says Matt McDonald, The Tab's U.S. editor. "We don't publish fictional stories. Everything which we publish, we stand up. If we have stories which would then go, you know, legally precarious, they go not only through two or three professional editors here in New York, but also through our media lawyer."
McDonald says Yenni's characterization of there being a monetary prize is misleading.
"Our student contributors are unpaid," McDonald explains. "And we've wanted to try… a way of, essentially, recompensing them for that writing. So, we decided the fairest way to do that was to come up with a scheme whereby, if you achieved a certain number of Facebook shares in a period of time across a series of different stories, then you get, you know, like $25, $50 or whatever."
The Tab posted a statement by Alex Daigle this weekend:
In his initial story, Daigle didn't name Yenni but instead referred to him as "Kevin". But that changed, as Daigle writes: "Now, Mr Yenni has chosen to deny the facts rather than to admit to his actions, presumably in an effort to protect his own image, and, in the process, has chosen to attack my integrity. I choose to no longer be victimized by Mr Yenni."