Monday, October 16, 2006

That's a Stretch, Armstrong

We might as well start calling him Travis "Stretch" Armstrong, because that's just what the News-Press' editorial page editor does with the truth. At least you can't say he stretches common sense, for to do that he'd have to have some in the first place. Seems that on Sunday part of his column included the following attacks on other papers, bringing to mind the old Biblical adage, "How can you take out the speck in your neighbor's eye when there's a plank in your own?":

(No link, because the News-Press threatens to sue you if you link to them.)

THE WALL?: Where's the dividing line between news and opinion at the Santa Maria Times? There might not be one. Just look at its editorial board. You'll see the group that comes up with the newspaper's editorials includes the executive editor and managing editor. (I'm not sure how in touch the paper can be with the community when the page's contributing editor, John Lankford, apparently lives in Florida.)

The Santa Maria paper's ethically challenged situation echoes that of the Ventura County Star's. At the Star, Editor Joe Howry and Managing Editor John Moore also sit on the newspaper's editorial board. Mr. Howry has the final say over the newspaper's editorials.

On the South Coast, one of the weekly freebie papers takes up its whole cover to promote its political endorsements of candidates.

Why aren't there uproars about these ethical problems?

Because there's a conpsiracy to get you, Wendy, and the Nipper, Travis--you know that. Every other newspaper in the world is in on it. That's how important you are.

OK, let's pretend the shuttle has landed and examine the problem as it exists in the real world. First, this is a complete misreading of "the wall." It's not that news and opinion can't have the slightest thing to do with each other (unless, of course, we're talking about the Wall Street Journal, were the news reporters do fine jobs and the editorial penners are right wing wackos). It's that the opinion side of the paper can't drive the news content, reporting, etc. Like, say, someone in opinion thinking a story should say nasty things about a politician because the person in opinion also lobs nasty opinion about that politician, for instance.

Second, it also assumes that if one person wears two hats, he or she can't be an objective reporter wearing one chapeau while having opinions as an essayist. The News-Press's very own Starshine Roshell did this for years, till the paper told her she couldn't (gee, wonder why she left), and the N-P readers knew that if a story had Roshell's headshot next to it, it was a column, if it just had her byline, it was a news story. Believe it or not, but readers can actually be all sophisticated like that.

Third, it might not be wise to belittle the Ventura County Star's editorial board. Turns out it features 11 community members. When was the last time that Travis, Wendy, and Arthur met with community members, let alone pretended they cared what they had to say?

Fourth, of course Travis takes a shot at John Lankford, as he's a former News-Press-man. True enough, at this point in the dreadful McCaw regime you pretty much can't throw a rock on the Central Coast without hitting a former News-Press staffer, but still it's telling Travis calls him out by name when....

Fifth, he can't name the Independent, like it's beneath him or something, and instead pretends that it's worth nothing because it's free. I guess that just means Money Bags Wendy is teaching him access for everyone is not such a good thing. So big deal, they tout their endorsements--that means they're being open about it. So much so that on the Indy's blog there's a debate about what they've done and how they did it, a kind of transparency that the News-Press has sorely lacked all through its, what do you call it, period of adjustment?

Sixth, there are uproars about some endorsement choices, and even how those choices came to be, but because the Indy lets people hash it out on its very website, people don't show up in DLG Plaza to have rallies.


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