Friday, June 1, 2007

Scorecard: What hasn't been covered

Three important local stories that the Courier ignored in May:

May 2: Renzi calls for investigation of Justice Department "electioneering"

May 3: Dems back Renzi on DOJ probe

May 12: Mary Kim Titla declares candidacy for AZ-1

Add yours in comments.

Coming?: Flagstaff Sustainable Living Fair

I'm expect that the Courier has been getting the press releases from CAZREN and others about this event, and hope that it'll send someone to cover it. There'll be a lot of hopeful, positive stuff and opportunities for cool photos. Will the editors pass it up?

A1: "More woes for Wilhoit Water Co."

The subhead on Doug Cook's story of continuing private-sector incompetence with public monopoly is a little misleading. "Lack of water leads to warning" should instead read "Cascading fuckups piss off customers."

A1: "Intermediate programs for teen drivers aims to curb crashes and deaths"

Mirsada Buric's lead:

Obtaining a driver's license is perhaps the first meaningful sign of independence for many teenagers. However, motor vehicle crashes continue to account for the greatest number of preventable deaths of children in Arizona.
The real lead:
Motor vehicle crashes continue to account for most preventable deaths of children in Arizona, but Arizona is finally doing something about it.

Do we really need to further endorse the idea that driving is the "first meaningful sign" of maturation? I mean, really. That idea is why we have so many impatient, unprepared young drivers out there.

Beyond the first graphs we've got an OK news story. But it was tough getting past the beginning and the terrible headline. (Hints: A program can't aim, but if it could it would do it with number agreement.)

A1: "Phone survey shows 78-percent support for photo radar in PV"

PV paid a company to call 300 residents to ask about a few issues, then sent a press release to the Courier. Ken Hedler did ask a good question that I noticed at the end -- whether the company weighted the data -- but the rest of this is plain stenography.

Here's the actual story: PV paid a company to call 300 residents and not weight the data, which ensured a result that favors the opinions of retirees and stay-at-homes, who tend to be more fearful, knowing that this would favor the town's position on the issues, and it could then write up a press release that the Courier would dutifully print.

Because the story is engineered to reflect only PV's official line, it amounts to disinformation. Maybe most PV residents really do support photo radar, but by jacking the table the town and the Courier are preventing us from learning the truth.

Goodman: "Changing the world one garden at a time"

This week's column is full-length, on time and essentially verbatim, excepting the headline, of course, which should be "Collaborating with the Earth."

That's all good, and it's in strong contrast to what was happening before a few weeks ago. If this stays consistent, there's only one hurdle left to clear. Goodman's columns range pretty widely, regularly including coverage beyond the "women's" issues that the Courier tends to cherry-pick, and when I see the Courier treating those opinions with equal respect, I'll be encouraged that we're seeing real progress on the editorial page.

Editorial: "Congress needs reforms, term limits"

Sorry guys, that horse ain't gettin' any deader.

Here's another great example of viewing the evidence through the filter of your own agenda.

Let's start with the unnamed Courier editor's assertion about Congressional approval relative to that of the Current Resident. Have a look at these trend graphs on Since the Dems have come into majority, public approval of Congress has turned around radically despite the unrelenting denigration of legislators and the institution itself by the mainstream media (clue: that's you, Mr. Editor). Meanwhile the Preznit's numbers continue to fall, admittedly at a lower rate as he approaches his statistical minimum -- that's where the only people left in his column are the completely clueless.

"Congress so far has been unable to make headway on such key issues as ..." only because of intractable Republicans in the Senate and White House. If those stubborn dead-enders were paying as much attention to public-opinion polls as the Courier editor pretends and doing their jobs responsibly, Congress would have already ordered withdrawal from Bush's adventure in Iraq, a radical restructuring of education and energy policy across the board and rebuilding of the Gulf Coast, and we'd be well on the way to a sensible national health-care system. If we keep the pressure on we can hope to sweep out most of the radicals in '08 and get moving forward in '09. But don't blame the Dems because a majority in Congress does not equal the dictatorial powers the editor seems to so admire. The system don't work like that, thank dread Cthulhu.

The editor gains a little cred for even mentioning the ethics problems of Richie Rich Renzi (R-Pentagon), but then squanders it by sweeping it under the smellier pile left by William Jefferson (D-Whirlpool Deep Freeze) -- as if that makes Renzi more ethical. That's a fourth-grade tactic, guys, and Renzi is our problem. You're right that the Dems haven't summarily tossed Jefferson out, but somehow you missed that the criminal investigation is continuing in the Republican Justice Department. Maybe the AG forgot about it, like everything else.

All this is designed to set up one of the editor's favorite canards, of course, the idea that term limits will make things better. Apparently the Courier editor believes that outlawing legislative experience and putting all the power of Congress in the hands of its bureaucratic staff is a vision of utopia. Ayayai.

The Courier continues to work to make you, the reader and voter, dumber about the political process that protects your freedom and maintains our society. Push back.

Cartoon: Empty tank

True enough, as far as it goes. But what action does it call for? None, as far as I can see. Nor is there really any indication that this is an urgent problem, say a low-fuel warning light. Pretty limp.