Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 28, 2012

Ink blotter

Filed under: Alameda, Crime — Tags: , , — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

I don’t faithfully read Police Blotters, but honestly I was interested to see how the Alameda Sun, which — while probably not a fan of a certain individual with some criminal justice problems — is definitely is sympathetic to specific, for lack of a better term, “factions” in this City that he is very closely connected to.    So I checked both the paper and the online versions to see and to my surprise there was nothing there.


Not even a sort of throw away listing that says “hey this happened on this date at this hour in this general location.”  Nothing.    So I thought, well, maybe the Alameda Sun never adds domestic violence accounts to its blotter as a general rule.  It’s a possibility.   So I did a quick search of their site and found that not to be the case.

On March 9, two separate reports on domestic violence arrests were added to the blotter for the previous week:

So I thought, well maybe this was an accident and they don’t generally post arrests for domestic violence calls.   But then there were these three posted on February 24‘s blotter:

But then I thought, maybe this was just a recent phenomenon by an overzealous intern, until I found these four arrests from June 2011‘s blotter:

These from May 2011:

And these from March 2011:

You get the general idea.

But yet somehow despite the historic, dutiful reporting of domestic violence arrests on its police blotters, somehow, the Alameda Sun neglected to post anything about the not one, but two domestic violence reports from the week before:

While some folks have dismissed publishing information about David Howard’s arrest and subsequent charge by the District Attorney of alleged domestic violence to be “not news” or “not newsworthy,”  it’s interesting that a newspaper would change the way it lists domestic violence arrests on its blotter because the accused perp is no longer some arms length individual that they have no ties with.   The thrust of the “not news” or “not newsworthy” argument really is to decry the act of publishing that information as “political” and therefore not the realm of “true” journalists.

It should be more troubling for folks if local publications attempt to justify alleged criminal acts as “not newsworthy” simply because they know or find connections with that individual convenient for breaking news stories or up-to-the-second information.   The act of treating an individual differently by determining that the information is not newsworthy for any number of easily refutable arguments is as political as any rationalization that the information is in fact newsworthy.   While the true journalists in Alameda may not want to wallow in the political muck the way that bloggers so often do, the decision to not publish is as political as the decision to publish.

And while it could be just a weird coincidence that the Alameda Sun just happened to make an editorial decision to stop publishing domestic violence calls and arrests the same week that David Howard’s name popped up on the Daily Activity Logs, it’s just really too convenient.  I’m not generally a cynical person, but that is simply eyebrow raise worthy.


  1. Q: If localized media prints the names of domestic abuse instigators, do you think other/future abused persons are going to be be more or less likely to report their own cases?

    I asked this question to some of my social worker friends (I used to be in the field.) One friend — who has been dealing with these kinds of situations for 25+ years — answered: (other answers were very similar)

    >>> Less. Domestic violence is a complicated issue. Victims are always blamed for the abuse and any police/ court involvement by the abuser. While adding the element of public shame, it feels like it would increase the danger for women and/ or set them up to defend the abusers.

    – – – – –

    In other words, arguing to bring domestic abuse out into the public info realm will actually prevent more victims from taking the giant step of requesting intervention. This general rule gets overridden when the participant(s) holds the public trust, ie represents the people as an elected official or is on the public payroll managing staff (ie police for example) that are in charge of arresting people for this offense. I don’t think DH rises to this level, despite his infamy in these circles.

    Comment by Jack B. — March 28, 2012 @ 6:24 am

  2. Jack B.: I’ll address the issue of a person’s notability some other time. This post is about the Alameda Sun changing in the period of a week the way they address domestic violence arrests in the police blotter.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 28, 2012 @ 6:41 am

  3. points up the value of Michelle Ellsons new effort, Alameda Community News Project Real re porting of significant Alameda community issues.

    Comment by Barbara Kahn — March 28, 2012 @ 7:09 am

  4. If the head of a local political org (Dem Club, LWV, Sierra Club, etc etc) was arrested for a violent crime, it would most certainly be newsworthy, despite that person not being an elected official. You can bet a kidney the Sun would print that.

    Howard is the head of a local political organization. That alone makes it newsworthy. His previous, well-documented antagonistic, anti-social behavior makes it even morseo.

    Comment by Anon so I don't get sued — March 28, 2012 @ 7:37 am

  5. Was not in the Journal either. I am pretty sure that #4. is right, if it were a high profile person who wasn’t feeding the paper with “breaking news” it would be front page stuff. Many of the articles I read that are relevant to local issues seem to be direct feeds from the Action Alameda source. If you look on their web page, the information is closely mirrored, and often misleading “facts” are parroted, which has always seemed to me to be less than rigorous journalism (checking sources; getting the opposing point of view; stuff like that).

    I do not take any comfort or have any happiness about this family’s problems, but I do not think it is right to protect someone accused of violence when others are not similarly protected. There is not even a mention that an incident occured, with no name attached. Since the usual standard is “if it bleeds, it leads”, this looks like an editorial decision to protect a news source.

    Comment by Kate Quick, — March 28, 2012 @ 8:05 am

  6. But, of course, the flip side of this personal Inquisition is why haven’t all or any similar domestic violence incidents in this city become the focus of the local Blogosphere. Surely it couldn’t be just a weird coincidence that the domestic violence subject had been on the blog to-do list and it just-so-happened that the person involved (convicted) is considered philosophically inimical to the cause of righteous Island citizens.

    Comment by Jack Richard — March 28, 2012 @ 8:32 am

  7. Jack R.: Well that is where the issue of notability enters into the discussion.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 28, 2012 @ 9:03 am

  8. What did anyone expect from the SUN??.

    Comment by John P. — March 28, 2012 @ 9:13 am

  9. What was also VERY interesting about last week’s Sun was the anti-C piece. It was almost certainly written or co-written by Howard. It was posted on his web page without signature or attribution several days before the Sun ran it. The sun’s version, however, has other peoples’ signatures.

    Makes one wonder if a frantic call to the Sun between his arrest and the letter’s printing (the Sun usually cuts off letters Monday morning) got his name deleted…..

    Comment by Anon so I don't get sued — March 28, 2012 @ 9:15 am

  10. at 9:40 a.m. there is twenty minutes left of live broadcast

    Comment by M.I. — March 28, 2012 @ 9:42 am

  11. Lauren D.: Yes indeed, that is where the issue of notability does come in.

    The subject in itself may be deemed noteworthy purely on the feeling of inimicus or amicus towards the accused by the note taker . However, in the present situation, the inimitable qualities held towards the accused have been transferred to one of the note takers and that transference has become noteworthy in itself.

    One wonders at what degree of algorithmic separation does this discussion become irrelevent.

    Comment by Jack Richard — March 28, 2012 @ 9:59 am

  12. The Sun needs to go out of business. They don’t report facts and skew their articles for Lipow’s and Howard’s agenda, like the sketchy reporting of the death of the land swap deal. How do my neighbors and I get the Sun to stop their droppings at our driveways.

    Comment by BarbaraK — March 28, 2012 @ 11:00 am

  13. Lauren, have you asked the editor of the Sun to comment? If so, why not? Also, to be fair, independent papers today have no money to hire reporters or do the due diligence that was once a given. It’s entirely possible that the failure to include the incident was not an editorial choice at all. Before you start making assumptions, why not ask for clarification? That said, have you lost your mind? Continuing to mine this incident is so beneath you, or I’d like to think it is.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — March 28, 2012 @ 11:34 am

  14. #12 “They don’t report facts and skew their articles for Lipow’s and Howard’s agenda”

    That’s a good one. That’s why they had John Knox White writing about city hall issues – to promote David Howard’s agenda?

    Comment by Richard Bangert — March 28, 2012 @ 11:42 am

  15. Denise, if as you say independent newspapers can’t afford to hire reporters or do due diligence then why are they in business??

    Comment by John P. — March 28, 2012 @ 12:21 pm

  16. #13 – Your son and his friends are not deemed by the courts as “public figures,” yet you went into great detail over their escapades with APD (see Yet, when the District Attorney charges David Howard, a court declared public figure, with domestic violence, it should be hidden and not reported by the Sun.

    #15 – You made my point clearer than I did. Newspapers should not be in business if they can’t report the news accurately, which requires diligence (hint to advertisers).

    Comment by BarbaraK — March 28, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

  17. Blame it on the Sun ….Blame it on Churchlady and her Cybility getting hit by Solar Flares in the Pew…..

    The Year The Newspaper Died

    As you may have noticed, newspapers have had a rough 2009. But you may not quite appreciate the magnitude of the collapse.

    So far this year:

    105 newspapers have been shuttered.
    10,000 newspaper jobs have been lost.
    Print ad sales fell 30% in Q1 ’09.
    23 of the top 25 newspapers reported circulation declines between 7% and 20%.
    What happened?

    The economy collapsed and advertising budgets went with it, accelerating a process already underway: the Internet’s erosion of the entire newspaper industry. The Atlantic’s Megan McArdle explains:

    For most of history, most publications lost money, or at best broke even, on their subscription base, which just about paid for the cost of printing and distributing the papers. Advertising was what paid the bills. To be sure, some of that advertising is migrating to blogs and similar new media. But most of it is simply being siphoned out of journalism altogether. Craigslist ate the classified ads. eHarmony stole the personals. Google took those tiny ads for weird products. And Macy’s can email its own damn customers to announce a sale.

    Read more:

    He shows ad revenue from help wanted classifieds dropping 92% in last 10 years, hitting $723 million last year, down from $8.7 billion in 2000. Once that easy money left the newspaper industry it was a lot harder to earn as much profit.

    This good news for broadcast and cable TV was tempered somewhat by a more pronounced shift in news consumption habits among younger adults. Pew found that the Internet is now the No. 1 news source for the 18-29 cohort, with 65% saying they get most of their news online, compared to 52% for TV and just 21% for newspapers

    By contrast, TV still dominated in the 30-49 cohort, with 63% citing TV news as their top news source compared to 48% for the Internet.

    It’s worth noting that online news consumption is still dominated by traditional news sources — including Web sites maintained by newspapers, which many publishers see as the key to future success.

    Conversely, Pew noted that online advertising has not proved nearly as lucrative as print for newspaper publishers, raising questions about their ability to maintain both profitability and large news-gathering organizations.

    Comment by John — March 28, 2012 @ 1:42 pm

  18. The financial devastation and the bad economy that has hit the Alameda Sun and all that have worked there is something some in this Town Scream for Glee. Kinda like the DH beat down by Dooooo and her contributors who keep fking with a familiy who is going thru some brutal times.

    How really frkn Civil are you. I’m Outta here

    Comment by John — March 28, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

  19. 16. BarbaraK : you must be confusing my comments with someone else. I never said Howard wasn’t a public figure or that his arrest isn’t newsworthy. What I object to is the additional stress and humiliation that hashing this out on a local blog causes the alleged victim and the rest of the family, especially since it appears motivated by nothing more than the need to bolster one’s own agenda at the expense of Howard’s reputation which, let’s face it, was not great to begin with so why the desperate need to discredit him? It just looks like gloating, fine if he were the only one who suffers but he’s not.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — March 28, 2012 @ 3:01 pm

  20. Denise: As I pointed out above to Jack B. this post was about the Alameda Sun and its inconsistency with regard to printing its blotter, folks from the Sun have managed to find their way over to this slice of the internet previously, if they want to explain why within a week something changed the way they present their blotter, nothing is stopping them.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 28, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

  21. 15. So the local plays and sporting events get reviewed, the schools can promote their fundraisers, we can see what houses like ours are selling for now without going online, and citizens like yourself can write letters to the editor, clip them out, and put them on the fridge. Duh!

    Comment by Denise Shelton — March 28, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

  22. 19. This was about the Sun’s failure to be consistent in printing a public police blotter, when they have done so in the past, except when it involved David Howard.

    21. I get that from the Alameda Journal, which has been in existence longer than the Sun. I get more current information about events around town in the Patch.

    Comment by BarbaraK — March 28, 2012 @ 5:28 pm

  23. 22
    If I were you I’d cancel my subscription to the Sun.

    Comment by Jack Richard — March 28, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

  24. In sum, quoting from above, this is the essence of this thread:

    “This post was about the Alameda Sun and its inconsistency with regard to printing its blotter.”

    “Lauren, have you asked the editor of the Sun to comment? If so, why not?”

    “Was not in the Journal either.”

    “If they want to explain why within a week something changed the way they present their blotter, nothing is stopping them.”

    Comment by Irene — March 29, 2012 @ 6:51 am

  25. There is a lot to mine about this incident. There is the violence, the silent victim, the uneven reporting. The effect on “pit bull” politics we see in this town.

    Keep mining LD. Much more to this story that needs to be pursued.

    Comment by Target 2013 — March 29, 2012 @ 9:16 am

  26. The Alameda Sun does not report domestic violence cases for two reasons. First, and more importantly, a newspaper report about such a case brings unnecessary and embarrassing attention to the victim. This is especially true when details of the case are published from a police report, such as what the perpetrator did to the victim. Secondly such a report could serve to anger the perpetrator and bring even more violence and suffering to the victim.
    The Sun would consider publishing a domestic violence story if the perpetrator met two criteria. He or she must be a public figure, and he or she must be on the public dole. We would not necessarily run the story if, say, the city manager, the mayor or a councilperson stood accused, but we would consider it. And we must report that the violence allegedly took place, leaving the matter for the courts to decide.
    These same criteria apply to suicides. If a public figure on the public dole committed suicide, then the Sun would report it. Or if public figures on the public dole played a role in the suicide, then the Sun would report it. We do this for a reason. We do not want to “inspire” someone to commit suicide so he or she can get posthumous attention in the Sun.

    Dennis Evanosky & Eric Kos

    Comment by Dennis Evansosky — March 29, 2012 @ 9:32 am

  27. #26 While I certainly do understand part of the Sun’s logic in not publishing the specifics of an abuse incident/arrest (name, more than general address), my question is why did the policy go from publishing general police reports about this type of incident to publishing nothing at all and especially during this time frame? Was it just a case of poorly timed policy revision? Will the Sun no longer publish this part of the police logs going foward?

    Comment by librarycat — March 29, 2012 @ 10:40 am

    • I think that any mention of domestic violence in our Police Blotter in the past came from our not paying attention. We’ve had three different people doing the blotter since last July, myself included. This latest incident reminded us of our policy that we should not put any mention of any domestic violence cases in the paper, including the Police Blotter, for the reasons outline in our previous comment.


      Comment by Dennis Evansosky — March 29, 2012 @ 11:05 am

  28. Gents, you need to talk to your staffer Dennis Evanosky who wrote about a suicide attempt here:

    Comment by hmmmmmmmmm — March 29, 2012 @ 11:24 am

  29. or here, when you’ve written about a teen suicide:

    Comment by hmmmmmmmmm — March 29, 2012 @ 11:27 am

  30. and dont forget how on the week before the Howard incident, when the Sun wrote about two domestic violence incidents. Produced above in the post.

    Comment by hmmmmmmmmm — March 29, 2012 @ 11:30 am

  31. what was the suns policy again

    Comment by hmmmmmmmmm — March 29, 2012 @ 11:31 am

  32. Dennis. What is public “dole”? welfare? or do you mean a public employees? If the employee were a teacher or a police officer I think that might be one reason to run an article, including identity. Somebody who is simply on public payroll? why is that relevant? As for your own standard of “public figure”, Howard secured that title when he filed and lost his libel suit, and I think it is even more the case since his highly public profile ironically includes filing a restraining order, which speaks to who he perceives as a threat versus his own behavior. I’m not even arguing that you should have run a story or were protecting Howard by not doing so, I’m just questioning your logic as stated.

    I think I understand not printing names, but if anonymity is maintained what would be other justification of not posting the incident as having occurred? Are crimes like car break in, burglary posted so people can know what’s up in their neighborhood but domestic violence somehow not the same? While a domestic violence incident may not have implications for neighborhood crime spree, I think posting might have value with regard to raising level of awareness on how common it is. About every two and half days.

    I have to slip in the editorial note. Call it piling on, I don’t care. It would be self destructive to actually assault a person known to be extremely litigious, because of the obvious threat of being sued out of house and home. Even the most volatile among us would be restrained in all but the most extreme circumstances. My case involved a five sentence 20 second verbal exchange in front of dozens of people at a League of Women Voters event. Only a few people present were even aware of the exchange.

    Comment by M.I. — March 29, 2012 @ 11:48 am

  33. Hi,

    Sorry,Mark, “public dole” is my own jargon that I should not have used. I do mean public employees. We can argue back and forth about whether David Howard is a public figure. We just don’t think he is. And, please pile it on. I think that Lauren’s blog plays an important role that manifests itself here: It opens up channels of dialog.

    And, to answer examples folks have pulled off our website: I can’t speak to reporting before last July. That’s when I came aboard as publisher and that’s when Eric and I set the rules oulined earlier. We do let things slip. We’re human. Sometimes we get busy with activiites outside the paper and the paper suffers.

    This week, for example, Eric had to prepare and give a history talk to a group of Cub Scouts. We are going to be doing a history talk tonight at the Alameda Musuem (come join us; it’s at 7 p.m.) And we have our book publisher breathing down our necks to finish up the revised version of our San Francisco Then & Now book.

    We will tighten up about the domestic violence reporting. But just like everyone who reads and reponds to items on Lauren’s blog, we’re human, too.

    Comment by Dennis Evansosky — March 29, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

  34. thanks Dennis. I didn’t mean piling on you, but was speaking to folks who feel these continued blog posts related to DH along with their comments are completely gratuitous and for the sole purpose of keeping DH down in the mud. Blog readers should know that on occasion where I took issue with your coverage I have contacted you directly and at times piled it on pretty good. I appreciate that you are really busy and personally I am not challenging that explanation, but I’d like a specific response to my attempt to parse domestic violence as appropriate or inappropriate for the blotter, as compared to other alleged crimes or incidents, because you seemed to state that the appearance of any D.V. incidents was arbitrary but something you would not consciously have included. Or did I got that wrong?

    Also Dennis, I don’t want to torture you over niggling detail, but the choice of “public dole” to describe public employees, is not just a little obscure but also might be construed to indicate a real bias, i.e. one which begrudges or challenges these individuals their due. Should we question your impartiality in covering stories related to that? You don’t have to answer that last question, it’s rhetorical because despite the highest and best intent it’s obvious that all journalism is subjective, or human as you claim. Within that pragmatic context human fallibility, I still think it’s legit to question how hard journalists try to keep their bias at arms length, and what their bottom line agenda may be.

    Taking a place like Bell CA as a pretty unambiguous example, it’s not bad for an investigative body like a paper to be aggressive in pursuing the public’s interest and institutional abuses, but it takes great effort by that body to keep the news stories as narrow as possible and reserve editorial for the editorial page. As you know, my biggest beef with the Sun has not simply been that much of the time I disagree with your editorial slant as I perceive it, but that there are frequently little or no discernible fire walls for editorial bias bleeding all over what is supposed to news content.

    Comment by M.I. — March 29, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

  35. The sun, thanks for confirming laurens post. you used to write about domestic violence until you realized someone you know did it, then you were reminded of a policy that you don’t write about.

    Comment by hmmmmmmmmm — March 29, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

  36. Mr Evanosky,

    Can confirm or deny the speculation I posted in item 9? Recopied below:

    9.What was also VERY interesting about last week’s Sun was the anti-C piece. It was almost certainly written or co-written by Howard. It was posted on his web page without signature or attribution several days before the Sun ran it. The sun’s version, however, has other peoples’ signatures.

    Makes one wonder if a frantic call to the Sun between his arrest and the letter’s printing (the Sun usually cuts off letters Monday morning) got his name deleted…..

    Comment by Anon so I don't get sued — March 29, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

    • In response to No. 9. That was not a piece written by the Sun. It was an Op-Ed piece written by the folks whose signature appear on the letter. The Sun does not edit items submitted for inclusion on the Op-Ed page. David Howard’s name was not on this letter.

      Comment by Dennis Evansosky — March 30, 2012 @ 8:08 am

  37. 36 & 37, you got it right.

    Comment by John P. — March 29, 2012 @ 6:09 pm

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