Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 4, 2009

Truth in editoralizing

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Errata — Lauren Do @ 7:00 am

At a recent City Council meeting, Councilmember Lena Tam provided a report back to the Council about a meeting she attended of the East Bay division for the League of California Cities.  She mentioned that one of the speakers was Dan Hatfield, who is the editorial page editor for MediaNews, which owns both the Alameda Journal and Alameda Times-Star.  

What  Dan Hatfield told this group of City leaders was that because of the continuing consolidation of newspapers, it is becoming increasingly difficult for these papers to do an adequate amount of fact-checking.   Added to that, from what I understand the editor of the Alameda Journal, Connie Rux, in addition to editing the Journal is also responsible for several other MediaNews publications.   The names escape me now, but suffice it to say, it’s more than just our humble little paper.    Because of this, it is incumbent on cities and counties to correct any factual errors that may come up in these articles.

While, it’s rather sad that the state of print journalism has gotten to this stage, at least it is refreshing to see someone be so brutally honest about the limitations of the Fourth Estate.   So while it may seem a bit Orwellian for the City to react so swiftly and definitively to assertions that the City is going bankrupt, the flip side of the issue is that the gatekeepers to information: print, radio, and television media simply do not have the resources at their disposal to do an appropriate amount of fact checking.   Which is why the deliberate distortions by SOCA are so appalling, it is as though SOCA was banking on the fact that media organizations don’t have the time to do an appropriate amount of fact-checking and would lazily print their assertions wholesale.

So, while media continues to shrink and consolidate, cities and counties who used to rely on their trusty local news reporter to dig up the facts and present the important facets of the issue, they now have to be proactive simply to make sure amongst all the noise of “facts” that are thrown out there, at least their “facts” are part of the mix and, I suppose, rely on Citizen X to sort through the noise to get to some level of truth.


  1. Methinks the lady doth protest too much. You could dump buckets of money into MediaNews and you’d still get facts that suit the political bent of the owners.

    Comment by Citizen X — February 4, 2009 @ 8:55 am

  2. It’s good that we also have the Alameda Sun. Owned by people who live in Alameda, written by people who live in Alameda.
    We can see them walking on our streets, shopping in the same shops.

    Comment by RM — February 4, 2009 @ 9:01 am

  3. I worked for MediaNews for nine years, and finally left because I could see the direction that the company was headed in, and it wasn’t good.

    The newspaper industry failed to react to market forces – the move of readers, and ad dollars, to the Internet – and we’re all paying the price in that we’re losing the easy access to information and a lot of other things that newspapers had long provided.

    The good thing is that I think we’re at a point where all of that is being recreated online, and that there is a real range of valid options for information emerging, from the more traditonal news-y stuff (witness the bevy of local news sites set up by the folks out at UC Berkeley) or with more of an editorial bent.

    Newspapers are collapsing – look at what’s happening with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, and even here, with MediaNews in constant layoff mode and now putting all its staff on paid furlough for a week. I think that will accelerate news’s move online, that the dollars to fund it will follow (because they will have nowhere else to go), and that what we miss from papers will start happening online much more quickly.

    Comment by Michele Ellson — February 4, 2009 @ 9:22 am

  4. No different with the Sun. Just because you can see the opinionmaker (factmaker) means nothing.

    Comment by Citizen X — February 4, 2009 @ 9:23 am

  5. # 3
    Now you’re talking! Good riddance to the print “news”. Throw all the alphabetical citizens in the mix and support (buy) the “news” you like online.

    Comment by Citizen X — February 4, 2009 @ 9:28 am

  6. The same holds true for City administrators who are banking on the fact that media organizations don’t have the time to do investigative reporting or analysis and will print the story as designed by them.

    Comment by Mike P. — February 4, 2009 @ 10:04 am

  7. Before you get all excited about the demise of the dreaded mainstream media, think about who is going to get paid to gather news in our brave new online world. You may find certain parts of the media objectionable, but throwing together Fox News, ABC News, PBS, the LA Times and the Alameda Journal into one big stew and assuming a lot of things about them all is a tad simplistic.
    Society needs paid news gatherers who actually do the boring work of going through court filings and sitting through public meetings and getting to know sources so they can find out what’s really going on. There are plenty of people willing to opine for free, but they need the basic newsgathering to work from, and it’s going away.

    Comment by Jan G — February 4, 2009 @ 11:54 am

  8. The freedom expressed in the 1st Amendment says nothing about paid news gatherers having anymore opine rights than citizen x doing it for free. Basic news gathering can be done and is done more thoroughly and passed on more quickly in online blogs than paid news reporters. The underlining question is accuracy and bias in either venue. That’s why I prefer to sift through several sources and believe scant few of them.

    Comment by JR — February 4, 2009 @ 12:24 pm

  9. That’s another one of those facile arguments that somehow becomes the standard line: oh, it’s all opinion anyway, what’s the difference? It’s clear to me already that blogs are blurring the accepted line between news and commentary, and as usually happens, the gradual drift is gradually accepted — or maybe rationalized and minimized.

    Anyway, it’s not an abstract discussion. Newspapers are institutions, they’re not individuals, and they have (had) the resources to do in-depth reporting, and I’m not sure what’s going to replace that. A random bunch of people opinionating is not the same thing.

    Comment by DL Morrison — February 4, 2009 @ 10:35 pm

  10. Local papers don’t have the revenue to do reporting that demands actual real research. Seems the AJ version of research was to go to their ‘mailbox’ at city hall to pick up the ‘news’, add a few comments from the redevelopment spin master and poofter – the front page story on what a great deal Alameda Landing’s renegotiation was. Never mind that the facts were wrong – it was a brief the CC could vote on, never mind the 1000+ pages of actual documentation.

    I think there was a time when real newspapers would dig into the facts to find the truth, not report slanted versions and partial truths as the news.
    Once you learn you can’t trust the reports in the newspaper they do become worthless unless you enjoy advertisements and opinions. If you like opinions, the blogs are faster. How long can the advertisements sell papers?

    Comment by DK — February 5, 2009 @ 12:47 am

  11. thank the blogs for giving a format for DK and others to shed the light of truth justice and the real will of real Alamedans. Remind me again, why did David Howard’s original blog withered away? Was it that there was very little traffic? Did that have something to do with heavy censorship of the comments ( i.e. only those which agreed with the blog were posted, .0001%)

    I definitely prefer a book for reading and a newspaper too, though it’s the journalism which counts. The Island blog is pretty good straight journalism.

    There was some criticism of Michele’s objectivity here recently, but I have found the journalism of the new city editor at the Sun to be more troublesome. It’s not all about editorializing. “The Long Twisted Road to Measure H” series ended with a substantially error, stating that the tax would not be collected until the law suit is settled. I never noticed a correction.

    Comment by Mark Irons — February 5, 2009 @ 8:17 am

  12. #9
    “It’s clear to me already that blogs are blurring the accepted line between news and commentary,…”

    Please nail down and reference that “accepted line”. Does it have anything at all to do with facts or truth on one side of the line or is it just a matter of testing the direction of the accepted wind and sailing along?

    Comment by JR — February 5, 2009 @ 8:31 am

  13. The Alameda Journal was never a great paper. In the recent past it has shrunk both in size and from two days a week to one. It is rare that it has a story with any depth. It isn’t much more than an advertisement.

    I think that there is a deep need for good papers with professional journalists that abide by professional ethics. Blogs are good for opinion, but we also need good in depth reporting. Are children learning an appreciation of newspapers in school? Are they being taught how to read a paper? In order for newspapers to survive and prosper, either online or in print, there needs to be a base of newspaper readers. If journalists are to survive, the journalism schools need to become actively involved in developing newspaper readers.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — February 5, 2009 @ 2:59 pm

  14. “If journalists are to survive, the journalism schools need to become actively involved in developing newspaper readers.”

    That’s a good one. Hell, let ’em give it a shot, schools ain’t doin it.

    Comment by JR — February 5, 2009 @ 4:58 pm

  15. It is not my idea, but it is a good one. If you are interested, here is a presentation from the Dean of the School of Journalism at SUNY, Stonybrook. His thoughts are enlightening and provocative.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — February 5, 2009 @ 5:50 pm

  16. Whoops #11 “The Island blog is pretty good straight journalism.”

    You better define what you mean by “journalism” – Do you just mean ‘daily writing’? If so, the shoe does fit.

    Comment by D Kiriwn — February 5, 2009 @ 8:18 pm

  17. 16. DK, is that “whoops” yours because you meant to keep your mouth shut but just couldn’t resist?

    I meant what the word journalism implies.

    Dictionary :” the occupation of gathering, writing , editing and publishing or broadcasting news” I would ad to that a measure of deliberate impartiality.

    Next time you are near a dictionary look up “twit”.

    Comment by Mark Irons — February 5, 2009 @ 10:07 pm

  18. How do local blogs fit your definition?

    Comment by dk — February 6, 2009 @ 6:35 am

  19. Perhaps Kirwin’s definition of journalism is the Alameda Daily News!

    Comment by alameda — February 6, 2009 @ 8:06 am

  20. # 15
    Yes, it is an interesting clip. But once the course migrates down to the high school level, one wonders how many of the eight questions will be left off the curriculum. I guess I fit into the “sceptic” third. It’s difficult to unlearn bias.

    Comment by JR — February 6, 2009 @ 10:25 am

  21. I would say that the journalism, in the classic sense, that comes out of Michele Ellson’s blog is better than either the Alameda Sun or the Journal these days. Which is more impressive given that Michele E. doesn’t get paid for what she does and provides it as a service to the community.

    We can all debate inherent biases that reporters have and whether that gets reflected in their writing, but I think Michele E. manages to walk that tightrope pretty well.

    People can scoff at the medium, but the content speaks for itself.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 6, 2009 @ 10:41 am

  22. Perhaps, but the banner advertisement in the middle of the page (today it’s solar energy) makes me question “The Island’s” adherence to at least one of the eight questions.

    Comment by alamedaexlax — February 6, 2009 @ 12:32 pm

  23. Society of Professional Journalists’
    Code of Ethics

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — February 6, 2009 @ 1:06 pm

  24. Hey exlax – I don’t think having advertising necessarily compromises a journalist’s integrity. By those standards, no traditional media journalist would every satisfy your standards.

    Anyway, out of curiosity I looked at the ad and it looks like its served up by google, which means the Island doesn’t have any control over the content of the ads.

    Comment by Jack Kirby — February 6, 2009 @ 1:47 pm

  25. The Island’s ads are served up by Google. Michelle addressed it in this post.

    “Some of our readers checked in with us today to inquire about the pro-Proposition 8 ad that ran on the site…First off, we do not control the ads that run on our site. They are fed to us through Google. Once they’re up there, we can’t delete them.”

    Comment by Susan — February 6, 2009 @ 4:08 pm

  26. 24

    Jack, fine, they’re served up by google. What’s the site get in return or does google own the site and the ads. If I allow someone to place ads on my blog and have no control of the ad content, I must be beholding to someone. Or is this just a matter of catering to special interests to pay the bills?

    Comment by alamedaexlax — February 6, 2009 @ 4:34 pm

  27. By the way, Susan, The Island acknowledges in their post concerning Prop 8 you referenced in your # 24, that they are, “…dead set against it”, with no countering arguments. Doesn’t that in and of itself violate the first rule of journalistic ethics?

    Comment by alamedaexlax — February 6, 2009 @ 4:44 pm

  28. No shit bloggers are journalists?

    You must be f’ing insane, inane, and drunk on your own diareha.
    Get thy head out of thy butt. Or is Iare now a journalist too?

    Comment by Where's tay tay — February 6, 2009 @ 5:04 pm

  29. Do any of the local bloggers or newspaper reporters or editors have a graduate degree in journalism from an accredited institution?

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — February 6, 2009 @ 6:58 pm

  30. A couple of excellent articles regarding the future of journalism …,8599,1877191,00.html,8599,1877161,00.html

    I. for one, would be willing to make micropayments to keep reading well researched articles online about Alameda, rather than rely on anyone’s blog depending on ad revenue.

    Comment by David Forbes — February 6, 2009 @ 8:27 pm

  31. Michele is an award-winning newspaper reporter with more than a decade of experience reporting and writing. Her online product, The Island, is dazzlingly good. She’s issuing multiple carefully-reported updates each week day, on a range of city and school and community topics. And she’s breaking news, too.

    The editorial is a staple product of old-style newspapers. The ideal of neutrality and the practice of endorsing and opining have long existed hand-in-hand. Traditional print journalists have managed to hold the idea that you can do careful, ethical research, reporting and interviewing and, too, in limited contexts, make assessments.

    It is incumbent on all of us to make thoughtful assessments. No matter where we read something—be it a newspaper, a magazine, a blog, or an email—we should always be asking questions. Where is the information in this from? How is it being presented? What is left out? What has been distorted? Why? What is the bias of the writer? How aware are they of their own bias? Has the writer been wrong in the past? Have I read contrary info elsewhere? Why is this story on this topic being written at all? These—and more—are the questions we should always be asking, and this doesn’t change because you’re reading something online: just because it’s on a blog doesn’t mean it’s bad or good. There’s lots of stunning reporting and writing coming out on blogs, and there’s lots of shlock. There are a lot of poorly reported stories in newspapers, and there are still some very good ones.

    Comment by Eve — February 6, 2009 @ 9:42 pm

  32. #31

    I don’t see Michelle Ellson’s qualifications noted anywhere on her site. Her brief “About Me” note says nothing of her education, experience or other qualifications. If they exist, she should state what they are.—truthiness

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — February 6, 2009 @ 9:54 pm

  33. ANT: I watched the video you posted regarding the need to train citizens into newspaper readers, I don’t know if I caught the whole clip, it ended up crapping out on me and I couldn’t get it to restart so I didn’t know if that was it or not.

    But I think I got the general flavor. While I think the idea is interesting as a way to try to save traditional media like the newspaper, I think the issue is less about trying to get kids to learn how to read appreciate the newspaper but rather to develop our future generation into critical thinkers in general.

    Newspapers, as a medium, are dying and eventually everything is going to move on-line. But that doesn’t mean that the same level of quality reporting or “journalism” isn’t capable simply because the medium consists of ones and zeros instead of newsprint and ink.

    I don’t think that folks need a graduate level degree in order to produce fine journalism. But a lot about what is considered “good” journalism, in my opinion, is the trust you have in the publication or the reporter to meet whatever expectations you have about what journalism should be. Good journalism — while I suppose is possible to be measured — largely is not. But the days of Edward R. Murrow (RIP) are over and the reign of Google is here. It would be a much better exercise to teach kids how to discern — from all the material that comes their way — the good, the bad, the ugly, the opinion, the fact, the half-fact, etc…

    This is all with the caveat that I have no illusions or make claims that I am in any way a reporter or journalist.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 7, 2009 @ 6:58 am

  34. What I took from ANT’s clip is Howard Scheider’s belief that “this society” is, as far as digesting “news”, divided into three groups, the confused, the believers and the sceptics. (even though he speaks of other countries and societies with no record of 1st amendment rights that are in the processing of contracting with his organization to teach his curriculum, one must either assume societal thinking and the resulting segmentation of society into the three thirds {confused, believers and sceptics} is either a universal human trait or is more influenced by the political system and journalistic history of the society. He mentions Bhutan and Greece as two for instances. Bhutan, a landlocked country in the Himalayans with no history of free press and Greece, which has an unsavory record of press freedom. So, I think, for the sake of his argument and course curriculum, he levels the playing field and assumes all human societies are segmented into the three groups regardless whether or not the Political system denies press freedom)

    Scheider, doesn’t care whether the “news” is written by “journalists”, bloggers, bullshitters or any other venue denizen. He doesn’t care if the writer of “news” has an advanced degree in journalism or is a hack blogger. His focus is solely on the reader, period.

    There’s nothing, nada damned thing that is not commonsensible in what Scheider espouses. Except, “common sense” is not common at all. He’s doing nothing more than trying to reinstall “common” in “commonsense” and combine the three groups of thinkers into one.

    Comment by JR — February 7, 2009 @ 10:24 am

  35. I consider the investigative aspect of journalism the most important. If all you do is paraphrase press releases and official communiques or give recount of what government has decided it’s Ok for you to see, you are merely a reporter, not a journalist. The only person I can think of has done any real investigating in Alameda is—brace for impact—David Howard. I should probably include Jeff Mitchell, too, when he broke the AP&T funds transfers, but that one case was so out of character for him, I wonder how it came about. While I’m at it, I might as well say that I’ve learned more detail about various issues here from David Kirwin’s comments that anyone else’s.

    Comment by alamedalorax — February 7, 2009 @ 1:00 pm

  36. I have an analogy for what I see happening w/ journalism today: the so-called “slow motion” chase of OJ Simpson that was broadcast at length. I remember watching that and thinking “WTF?!”. Since then, of course, TV news has become increasingly entertainment oriented, and what used to be consided tabloid news is now leading the nightly newscast. What used to be reliable standards have been lost.

    Reputable newspapers have always had reliable journalistic standards, meaning that they present different sides of a story, they back up assertions with sufficient facts, and — above all — they make a distinction between news and commentary. Newspapers are supposed to print facts, and keep the opinions on the Op-Ed page.

    Of course most papers have an editorial stance, but that’s hardly a secret. Anyone who reads the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal or the Washington Post knows how to factor in that bias. Major papers such as these function as an institution to maintain journalistic standards, however imperfectly.

    Bloggers by comparison are a huge mish-mash of individuals who may or may not have any standards, or for that matter, any concept of a standard.

    A blog which is clearly devoted to opinion is not that much of an issue, but a problem arises when a blogger veers back and forth between factual news and opinion, without labelling the opinion.

    I will use Michele Ellson’s blog as an objective example, without meaning to slight her in any way. Michele usually writes a factual news column, so I was a bit surprised when she wrote in critical terms about the land trust issue. A post that brief about a complex issue can’t be construed as an investigation — in which case a critical assessment might be justified — so therefore, it qualifies as an opinion and it should have been labelled as such.

    If it need be said, I have no particular bias about the land trust issue, so I’m not objecting on that basis. I’m just concerned that a very fundamental distinction between hard news and commentary is being lost.

    Comment by DL Morrison — February 7, 2009 @ 3:35 pm

  37. DLM
    You don’t need to take Howard Schneider’s course.

    Comment by JR — February 7, 2009 @ 5:57 pm

  38. Murrow in London

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — February 7, 2009 @ 6:06 pm

  39. 35. Howard being the only journalist in Alameda is preposterous crap, pathetic, outrageous. You expect people to take you seriously too I’m sure.

    Again the dictionary definition: the occupation of gathering, writing, editing, and publishing news.

    Investigative journalism is a specialty to which our local papers seldom aspire, if ever.

    David Howard is a propagandist. There are others you may have heard of, some rather famous including a guy named Goebbels.

    I’m sure Mr. Howard fancies himself a muckraker, but in the process he has become mired in the muck he tries to stir and only creates more of his own. A real journalist brings clarity, rather than muddying the waters more than when they find them for an ulterior motive.

    Sorry this is only an abstract. The entire article is quite good. It’s about the real effort in fact checking.

    Comment by Mark Irons — February 7, 2009 @ 9:21 pm

  40. More Murrow

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — February 7, 2009 @ 9:44 pm

  41. Enough with the cherry picked vignettes that attempt to sanctify E R Murrow. He was about as non-partisan as George Clooney.

    Comment by JR — February 8, 2009 @ 10:14 am

  42. Jeez Mark – your bias is showing again, but I guess by your definition of journalist -“occupation of gathering, writing, editing, and publishing news.” bias is okay for a reporter, so you and Mr Howard are equals at fitting your opinion of journalist credentials. – But I don’t put much value to your definition or your statements.

    The thing is, Mr Howard has made us aware of important issues – you don’t bring anything to the table but your negative and begrudging feelings against a few individuals who post here.

    I believe Mr Howard is the person responsible for the city developer dept finally writing some of the checks it owed to AUSD totaling over a Million dollars. In that light Mr Howard is a hero like others such as Jean Sweeny who had the diligence to get the beltway property back to the city, and then protecting much of it as future parkland for the community with a ballot initiative that voters approved. In my eyes she too is a hero of Alameda. Howard, with others, has been trying to show that the city’s financial condition is not the same as the city is stating it to be, and by yesterday’s meeting there is quite a bit or reality to his comments. I’m not onboard with his “bankruptcy statements” –I don’t know enough, but clearly the city is not funding all it’s needs, (perceived and mandated), it is over-reporting what is in the General Fund, it is facing several major lawsuits, and while PW dept may be covered by insurance from the lawsuit of the woman who drove down the street and into the estuary, I am not sure about the suits from the bond companies suing because they are not being repaid. And why are there so many lawsuits against the city anyway?
    These and others are real issues, that don’t even begin to touch the foolish approach the city seems to be following towards over development.

    What is your contribution other than nasty negativism? Sure it may be your right – but it doesn’t make you a journalist.

    Comment by David Kirwin — February 8, 2009 @ 11:08 am

  43. The Murrow clip is what any human being with a conscience would do when faced with an outrage, whether journalist or not. Murrow used his knack for reporting to express his outrage. Many people, well known and otherwise, speak out against acts they find unacceptable, and this proves they are brave human beings, not journalists. When TV journalist began to react to Sarah Palin’s BS, I didn’t think, what great journalism, I thought, finally someone with guts. It’s the job of a journalist, in my opinion, to find the things inside government affairs that would normally outrage us and expose them using facts and objectivity in the process. Objectivity is not the goal, it’s a tool. You can objectively report on things obvious or of no consequence—this doesn’t make you a journalist. I didn’t say David Howard IS a journalist, I said he does something that journalists are supposed to do, but don’t—namely, investigate. How he does it is a different matter. Sometimes I agree and sometimes I don’t. For the most part, I’m glad he is at it.

    Finally, a good journalist always tries to answer the question “why” more than the who, what, when and where. Read any article in the local paper and try to understand why what’s happening is happening, and you’ll be scratching your head. I just read for example that the Hornet will be moving to a different pier. Learned all about the rent, but why are they moving? Something about MARAD? Michele Ellson could have done a better job explaining the reason—unless it was edited out. That’s a different story, I don’t have time to go into it now. Off to the circus.

    Comment by AD — February 8, 2009 @ 11:39 am

  44. #43

    And why does the city continue to forgive the rent and allow the tenant to stay on the property? Is this standard practice for the city? What is the relationship between those in city hall and those that run the Hornet? How much revenue has the city lost on this venture over the past ten years?

    Are our local newspapers worth reading? They are given away for free and paid for by advertising dollars – mainly from local businesses. Classified advertising is dead. The purpose of a newspaper under these circumstances is not to inform readers, but to present advertising to potential shoppers. Photos of cuddly pets are just as good as achieving this purpose as is uncovering corruption in local government — it is also far less costly and controversial.

    I would be willing to pay for a professional newspaper that had well written and researched articles as I do for my magazine subscriptions.

    Journalism is a profession. As with all professions, some people are more inclined to success than others; however, education and experience are also vital. Take a look at the graduate courses offered at Berkeley’s school of journalism.

    Do any of the local papers have someone with this level of education on staff?

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — February 8, 2009 @ 1:09 pm

  45. DK: The often say you don’t know enough to judge issues, which is laudably honest, and yet seem to buy Howard’s nonsense fully. I think he just encourages your paranoia. You really should find a smarter or more honest oracle.

    On the few things I happen to know something about, Howard makes elementary (and convenient) mistakes. This makes me mistrust him on other issues. And he’s a shameless opportunist in terms of his allies and willingness to misinterpret news and academic studies as evidence of his position.

    And of course, there’s his nasty little personal obsessions–did you see his story about someone saying the mayor was drunk? Nice.

    This city would undoubtedly benefit from having tough, informed journalists. Like ANT, I’d pay for that. I’m not sure that enough others would.

    Comment by BC — February 8, 2009 @ 4:02 pm

  46. I would be willing to pay $100/yr for 2-3 local in-depth hard news stories per day written by a professional journalist. I would expect the ability to pursue FOIA demands as needed. I would be willing to accept a modest amount of advertising if it did not interfere with news coverage. How many households would be willing to pay for that? I believe that there are about 35,000 households in Alameda. How many of those pay for cable? Alameda might make an interesting test case for a group of journalists willing to test the waters.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — February 8, 2009 @ 5:25 pm

  47. Web 2.0 defamation lawsuits multiply

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — February 8, 2009 @ 6:43 pm

  48. I’d rank David Howard as more Rush Limbaugh than Edward R. Murrow or Seymour Hersh. Limbaugh, when caught in a “misstatement,” describes himself as an entertainer. Whattya think?

    And as for the criticisms of journalism–keep in mind that fallible humans have always been involved. When I was in J School, one professor often told us that if you offend people on different sides of an issue, you’ve done your job right.

    Comment by Linda Hudson — February 8, 2009 @ 6:58 pm

  49. Do any of you remember the story of the landlord/restaurateur in Berkeley who had kept young immigrant women as indentured servant/sex slaves, supposedly his? A young woman in one of his apartments, whom I believe he falsely alleged to be his niece, died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty wall heater. That got people’s attention, but it was a Berkeley High student who broke the indentured servitude angle in the high school paper. That student was courted by Columbia school of journalism and has gone on to report on location on one of the stories of her generation, the war Iraq.

    I’m sure of my point in invoking that anecdote, but the value of an inquisitive mind impresses me.

    I thought Michele Ellson’s interview with Pat Keliher from SunCal included good questions and went beyond what we are used to seeing in the papers. Detractors of SunCal might fault Michele for not asking more hard hitting, or in their case accusatory questions, but I thought her questions were solid, even if the answers portion was not exhaustive. Keliher’s answer to transportation didn’t scratch the surface of the subject and the problems or potential solutions, but generally I thought he was forthright and didn’t seem evasive. I’m not trying to make him a hero just giving for straight answers, I just feel the interview was valid and does a public service. A service, I will ad, that I do not see being done by any of David Howard’s investigative antics.

    People can bad mouth Lauren all they like, but she does not pretend to be anything other than the editorial opinion driver she is and in terms of an ongoing community dialogue, her blog sure beats the weekly cycle of letters to the editor.

    Comment by Mark Irons — February 8, 2009 @ 7:00 pm

  50. #49

    Yup … it was apalling to read about it and many folks (rightly so) have stopped patronizing the restaurant since then! I am surprised that the restaurant is still around 😦

    Comment by alameda — February 8, 2009 @ 9:06 pm

  51. #49
    “I’m sure of my point in invoking that anecdote,…”

    Mind sharing it?

    Comment by JR — February 9, 2009 @ 10:12 am

  52. I’d say that if this discussion proves anything, it’s that what makes a journalist is in the eye of the beholder. And it’s interesting to see what information people want, though I’d venture to say that this group has a particularly high interest in civic affairs, and so what you’re looking for might be different from what a more general readership would want.

    To answer your question about the Hornet, AD, what the city told me was that MARAD wants a more secure space on Pier 3 and that moving the Hornet would help them get that. I think the city said something along the lines of, they’d move the Hornet and fence off Pier 3 for MARAD’s ships.

    Any questions like that, please feel free to ask. That’s one of the things I actually love about being online, is that I can answer stuff like that more quickly and in a place where everyone can see the answers.

    Also, someone asked for more information on my background. I’m actually moving to a new, hosted site, and that has a little more info on me for anyone who wants it. The new site’s in my hyperlink.

    Comment by Michele Ellson — February 9, 2009 @ 11:47 am

  53. #49: I remember the story well and it’s interesting to hear what became of the student.

    I agree with your comments on the Keliher interview, which I very much appreciated, especially since it brought out some specifics which I hadn’t seen elsewhere. I would tend to agree with your comments on David Howard as well, but then he also brings out specifics on occasion that don’t appear anywhere else. I think he’s totally focused on swaying public opinion, thru scare tactics or any other means, and if media coverage is any indication of success then he’s not doing so badly.

    As Michele Ellson says above, it’s difficult to know how the public in general perceives any of the comments on either side of this issue and whether it has any real effect or not.

    Comment by DL Morrison — February 9, 2009 @ 1:16 pm

  54. #41: This is a report on the Holocaust, and it should not be referenced in such dismissive terms. That’s offensive.

    Comment by DL Morrison — February 9, 2009 @ 1:18 pm

  55. #52

    Thank you Michele for posting your bio and qualifications on your site. Very impressive! I take it that you prefer the weather in the Bay Area to Buffalo?

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — February 9, 2009 @ 2:26 pm

  56. #54 I don’t get the connection. Please explain why my suggesting that E R Murrow was a partisan hack and being curious of why ANT chose that clip as an example of “journalism” dismisses the holocaust. I take back my #37.

    Comment by JR — February 9, 2009 @ 4:55 pm

  57. #55:

    Comment by Michele Ellson — February 9, 2009 @ 5:04 pm

  58. I missed some posts here, from Eve, David Forbes, and #51. I meant to say I was NOT sure why I was compelled to invoke that anecdote about the school girl who broke the story other than as an example of the value of the inquisitive mind in unearthing the truth.

    #56. It gets me when somebody who is anonymous calls somebody something like a “hack”. It’s so easy to do when there is no real accountability. It’s even better that it’s Murrow. Be critical of Murrow as impartial, but a hack? Really? I don’t know why, but I am awed by the idea journalists expose themselves to things like bombings to bring us information.

    And Murrow’s supposed partisan collusion which was so objectionable was with whom? The Allied Powers? those who resisted McCarthyism?

    Murrow’s radio voice in the piece may seem overly dramatic now, but it wasn’t in the context of time and subject at hand, which I think relates to the complaint in #54.

    Comment by Mark Irons — February 9, 2009 @ 6:21 pm

  59. The reporting style of the 1940s may sound a bit shrill to our ears. Murrow was being very restrained

    For a more documentary style, this is from the U.S War Department.

    Remember, these reports were made almost 65 years ago and with relatively primitive technology.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — February 9, 2009 @ 6:41 pm

  60. #56: You’re referring to the content of this report as if it were irrelevant to whatever personal point you have to make. “Death camp, whatever.”

    I hardly think that Murrow was a hack, and I appreciate the style of reporting, which made sense when voice alone had to convey all the drama.

    Comment by DL Morrison — February 9, 2009 @ 7:22 pm

  61. And here is that hack Murrow working with that known Communist hack John Wayne on a film for that subversive organization known as the U.S. Army.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — February 9, 2009 @ 8:30 pm

  62. I thought this thread was about “Truth in editoralizing” {sic}. Edward R Murrow was an entertainer who chose world events to forward his own personal interpretation and opinion of those events. You may like his interpretation and opinion but his method had nothing to do with the honest journalism espoused by Howard Scheider.

    Comment by JR — February 10, 2009 @ 9:19 am

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