Thursday, August 9, 2007

A1: "Law enforcement issues arise at candidate forum"

In her second graph Cindy Barks mentions that water and growth dominated "much of the discussion," but coverage of these more important issues didn't make it into her story. Instead we get the non-issue of illegal immigration and the sexy-but-stupid idea of red-light cameras. Whether Cindy did this on purpose or not, or perhaps got a memo about it from the editor, it shows how editorial choices can insidiously influence the public discussion through omission and refocusing.

A1: "Council candidates split on city's handling of open space"

Cindy Barks again adds some good facts to supplement the responses of the Council candidates. I really don't get why these stories don't run together.

I just love how they all trot out the "willing seller" canard. Of course you have to have a seller, that's indisputable. It's just not relevant to the question. See, if it's a parcel that would qualify for open-space funding, it's by definition already open space and the City has no effect on the issue by trying to purchase it. The point of the funding is to acquire parcels that go up for sale to prevent development in important spaces. The question voters should be asking is: How many qualifying open-space parcels has the City failed to acquire that were subsequently lost to development?

PS, editors: The proper style for naming our community access channel is Access13, no space. I know: I named it. And I sent you style sheets twice.

Editorial: "Bridge collapse might prevent other tragedies"

The unnamed Courier editor comes up with a surprising scoop today: the revelation that "tens of millions of dollars" earmarked for New Orleans levees "in recent years ended up in politicians' pockets." That is one helluva story, and having it discovered and carried first by a small Arizona paper makes it Pulitzer material. I'm looking forward to the facts and substantiation on page one -- I'm just a bit puzzled because we usually run that story first.

Or could this be just another case of the editor using his op-ed space for a random rant more worthy of the breakfast chatter down at the Lone Spur? I guess it's a clue when he writes of "infrastructure" as a "fancy word."

Thomas: "Rupert Murdoch is not the media Satan"

Nutbar Cal responds to his own Bizarro interpretation of the Ignatius column yesterday, both pieces on something that matters not one whit to Courier readers. Do I detect a little media navel-gazing in the Courier editorial offices?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Heads up for this weekend

We have a commitment from the Governor to appear for at least a large chunk of "The People's Business" this week with Rep. Mason. You can look forward to some wide-ranging discussion of current state and local issues. That's Saturday and Sunday the 11th and 12th at 2pm on KJZA, 89.5FM.

If you can't get the show over air, contact me privately and I'll try to make you a copy.

A9: "County property tax rate will decrease while collections increase"

This is just the sort of boring, factual information that voters need most to understand if they're to participate positively in our system. It's what a local paper is for.

A1:"Candidates all voice strong support for public transit"

This time Cindy Barks adds some practical meat to flesh out the issue framed in the candidate question, good show.

Ignatius: "Heyday of Wall Street Journal is long past"

This is an inside-baseball piece of zero value to local readers. The editors could have run his column from last week, "Sept. 10 in Waziristan" (free registration required), but chose this instead. Y'all go ahead and tell me what that means.

Editorial: "Board has to go by what it approved"

Duh. Waste of space. Again.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Wiederaenders: "Terrorists win with atmosphere of fear"

Tim's got the right end of the stick today, but he fails to wield it with authority.

Yes, the public is unreasonably afraid of terrorism, and everyone needs to calm down. But Tim's analysis of why this is happening is a little soft, perhaps because his own industry carries so much of the responsibility, and the organization he helps manage is quite happy to sell newsprint on fear and facilitate official fear-mongers. So another opportunity for self-examination and positive change is wasted. If the Courier editors really see the problem here, they are in better position that most anyone in town to do something about it.

Parting shot, Tim: "UFO" is not a synonym for "alien spacecraft." If something is flying and the authorities don't know what it is, it's a UFO, that's the correct term. So the TV newscritters didn't report the "possibility of a UFO," they reported a UFO sighting. Failing to clarify this for your readers reinforces ignorance among those who don't know and undercuts your credibility among those who do.

A1: "Big Chino water: Chino officials, others concerned over rule changes"

Joanna Dodder has a big job to do here in informing the voters about the biggest, most acute problem we have in front of us. Her problem is that it's so eye-crossingly technical and has more characters than a Tolstoy epic. Hard reading, but important.

A1: "Candidates' opinions mixed on Big Chino pipeline"

Cindy's doing a good job with it, I just think the assignment is wrong. Why do we need a summary of what the Courier editor thinks is newsworthy on the front page when back on A7 we have the actual full-length responses from the candidates?

We still have to deal with how the questions are put and the way that wedges the responses, but in my view the more direct the communication between subject and reader, the better. Today's readers (the few that are left), especially younger people, require a lot less media hand-holding.

Editorial: "Grown-up 'water fight' is no laughing matter"

The unnamed Courier editor is at least consistent. Again today he repackages the front page and says nothing. Hint: Assign the space to someone who cares.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Another enervating Monday

Today's paper is so dull I don't even want to deal with it. Ack.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Editorial: "Street initiative was extreme micromanaging"

The unnamed Courier editor reluctantly admits that Rob Behnke's failed initiative was a bad idea, falling in line behind the Chamber of Commerce and every City Council candidate. Too bad he fails to mention that on April 18 he was all for it. Typical.

He can't resist a jab at our hard-won rules on spending for open space, the elimination of which was the hidden agenda of the Behnke campaign, and scores a touchback.

A1: "State rule changes would help Prescott's Big Chino water plans"

Joanna Dodder does some good spadework on the quiet little water war going on between Prescott and Chino Valley. Most of what you need to know is between the lines.

Short version: Prescott city officials are finding themselves increasingly isolated in defense of their stump-headed arrogance, and if they don't get it together and start following proper procedures they could wind up wasting huge amounts of money for nothing.

Talk of the Town: "Minutemen are heroes, not vigilantes"

Mel Oliverson puts his hand up as a proud member of our local self-appointed guardians of racial purity to address their acute PR problem. He shows just how big that problem is and how little he understands it by peppering his piece with disinforming fear sparks and codewords: "infectious diseases," "narcotics," "intellectual integrity," "ruinous effects," and "flood of illicit immigrants" in just three graphs, not to mention "the undesirable impacts on the long-term nature of our revered 200-year-old inherited culture" -- does anyone here have any doubt about what that means?

The Courier is doing its readers a service in providing Mr Oliverson a platform for showing his intellectual underwear, though I'm sure the editors see it rather differently than I do. Reading this further convinces me that there should be no tolerance in our community for these brownshirts, and eventually they will cause some serious trouble.