Friday, April 13, 2007

Editorial: "Duke lacrosse case evokes 'Oxbow'"

Once again the unnamed Courier editor (ahem, Ben, ahem) frog-marches us through three graphs of gratuitous reference to cowboys into extended finger-wagging about something that matters not one whit to anyone reading him. His only consistent motivation seems to be another opportunity to whack a couple of his favorite inflatable punching clowns. What's odd is that he wants to do this in public.

Sort of weird exhibitionism, if you ask me.

Talk of the Town: "Government doesn't let laws get in its way"

Sen. Johnson (R-AZ18), who represents no one in the Courier's service area, rails about actions that she doesn't like by people in government who are not apparently anywhere in the Courier's service area. Why is this in our paper? If we're giving space to politicians, shouldn't they be our politicians? Shouldn't they at the very least be representing rural AZ?

If you Courier editors wish to opine on an issue, why don't you just write it yourselves and be honest about it?

Cartoon: Another whack at Pelosi

Wait, didn't we just do this a couple days ago? Read my lips: TOTALLY FAKE CONTROVERSY. Ack.

A1: "Everything for the Home"

Page one, top left below the mast, the most important thing happening in our area today: Businesses are selling stuff.

Gotta keep those advertisers happy.

Letters: Guns

Isn't it interesting how the letters block has been organized into themes lately? Ya think anyone might be manipulating this a little?

So here we have four letters apparently in response to the story on the D-H policy of carrying guns into public meetings, every one of them from out of state. Any chance this might have resulted from an organized callout to, say, NRA members for letters? I know that the Courier prints only those letters it deems printworthy. So what gives these run-of-the-mill, me-too memos from all over the country any pertinence to Courier readers? Could it be that gun 'rights' represent a personal hobbyhorse for the editors?

A1: "Dewey-Humboldt P&Z stuck on design standards"

Doug Cook turns in a solid report on D-H struggling with building design standards, covering the bases well.

I have to wonder whether D-H officials aren't getting in over their heads. It's good to do the planning at the beginning, before you've got too many masters to serve, but to be effective in this you've got to have a pretty clear consensus on where you want to go. You can't build that consensus in public meetings, it happens over lots of lunches and group huddles, well before the meetings. Wish 'em luck.

A1: "PV council tables apartment complex"

Prescott Valley has been making and executing very aggressive plans over twenty years to grow up into a dynamic, modern city. Its open-section layout has allowed the town every opportunity to plan far ahead for urban density. So why is it running into this sort of problem? Suddenly a single-family neighborhood is facing the prospect of a large-footprint, four-story apartment block shading out its mornings, and from this story it seems to have nearly slipped through the public-comment phase unnoticed. What the heck is going on down there? Again, the who and what are in place, but I've got several 'why' questions.

I personally think that higher-density, mixed-use development makes all kinds of sense where the alternative is continuing low-density sprawl. But you have to respect the neighbors.

A1: "Illegal off-roaders"

It's a bid sad that a Sheriff's Dept. team actually doing its job and issuing a few tickets to motorized yahoos in the forest qualifies as news, but there you have it. This straight-ahead report is OK as far as it goes, but some context would be informative, such as how often enforcement actions happen in the forest, what sorts of violations predominate, and what kinds of damage they cause.

I know there's been some quiet struggle over the past year or so among the Forest Service, off-roaders and lawnforcement. Some coverage would be useful.

A1: "Sheriff reorganizes his staff again"

Mirsada Buric does a good job on the who and what here, but there's a big one missing: why? I can understand that Sheriff Waugh might be reluctant to explain why a captain in charge of detention "took a voluntary reduction back to lieutenant," apparently leading to a management shakeup across his organization, but it's the Courier's job to at least state that the reporter asked the 'why' question and got no answer.

A factor in smaller-town living is that it's much easier for the press to get too close to the subject, and social rules can override journalistic principles. I don't know that this is what's happening here, but I'll keep an eye out for a pattern.