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--- We were overdue for another biased headline

Published by waner in Wheeling Intelligencer · 30/4/2015 14:59:00
Tags: Intelligencer
Photo arrives too late to accompany "fair and balanced" headline

Here's the headline above the Intelligencer's front page article about yesterday's West Liberty Faculty Senate's "no confidence" vote for chief financial officer, Jack Wright :

Faculty Senate Has New Target

And here's the photo of the proceedings that arrived after the "newspaper" was published:

Note -- the Intelligencer does deserve kudos for not using the word "radicals" or the phrase "reign of terror" anywhere in the article. And other than decapitation, could there be anything worse than a vote of no confidence from a faculty senate?

For contrast, here's the headline (using the same information) in today's Charleston Gazette:

West Liberty faculty votes no confidence in administrator

--- Intelligencer not honest about hurricanes

Published by waner in Wheeling Intelligencer · 10/4/2015 15:38:00
Tags: climateNOAAIntelligencer
More dishonesty from the Intelligencer

This morning's editorial, "Obama Not Honest About Hurricanes," once again features the Intelligencer's cherry-picking of data on the science of climate change.

The editorial begins by claiming that the president is "untruthful about climate change" and then quotes him:

"We know climate change is not a distant threat . . . most Americans see climate change hitting their communities through extreme weather events - from more severe droughts and wildfires to more powerful hurricanes and record heat waves . . ." (The  ellipses are in the editorial. Note that the rest of the editorial will ignore the severe droughts, wildfires, and record heat waves that the president cites as the editorial focuses only on "more powerful hurricanes." Can we conclude that the Intelligencer agrees with the president on droughts, wild fires, and heat waves?)

On hurricanes the editorial argues that the frequency/severity of hurricanes has not increased:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists studied hurricanes since 1878 and found what may have been a slight increase. But statistically, "this trend is so small . . . that it is not significantly distinguishable from zero," they note.

"It is premature to conclude that human activities - and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming - have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane activity," NOAA concluded.

Looks mighty damning unless you look at the actual NOAA study and examine all of the study's conclusion: (The Intelligencer quote is underlined.)

    • It is premature to conclude that human activities--and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming--have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane activity. That said, human activities may have already caused changes that are not yet detectable due to the small magnitude of the changes or observational limitations, or are not yet properly modeled (e.g., aerosol effects).
    • Anthropogenic warming by the end of the 21st century will likely cause hurricanes globally to be more intense on average (by 2 to 11% according to model projections for an IPCC A1B scenario). This change would imply an even larger percentage increase in the destructive potential per storm, assuming no reduction in storm size.
    • There are better than even odds that anthropogenic warming over the next century will lead to an increase in the numbers of very intense hurricanes in some basins—an increase that would be substantially larger in percentage terms than the 2-11% increase in the average storm intensity. This increase in intense storm numbers is projected despite a likely decrease (or little change) in the global numbers of all tropical storms.
    • Anthropogenic warming by the end of the 21st century will likely cause hurricanes to have substantially higher rainfall rates than present-day hurricanes, with a model-projected increase of about 20% for rainfall rates averaged within about 100 km of the storm center.

Note that the Intelligencer cites only the first sentence and even that sentence ignores NOAA's qualifier ("that said") which undercuts that first sentence. Because the study is written by scientists it is careful about its conclusions yet look at the next three bullet points -- they believe that hurricanes will probably get worse in intensity, in their numbers, and produce higher rainfall when they occur, and all three are likely caused by anthropogenic warming. It is difficult to read the study's summary and not conclude that NOAA is very concerned about climate change.  I guess, however, that if you're an ethically-challenged editorial writer who works for a publication that shills for the coal industry, the concept of being fair to what a source is saying overall never occurs to you.

--- Plagiarism

Published by waner in Wheeling Intelligencer · 2/4/2015 16:39:00
Tags: Intelligencerplagiarism
The Intelligencer sinks even lower

The online Oxford Dictionary provides us with a simple but workable definition of plagiarism. It is "the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own."

Yesterday I linked to a story by Phil Kabler in the Charleston Gazette who reported that former-WLU president Robin Capehart's ethics hearing had been postponed. (See post below.)  I wondered when or if our local "newspapers" would cover the story. This morning's Intelligencer contained an unattributed story about Capehart in which almost half of it is word-for-word from the Kabler article. (Neither Kabler nor the Gazette is referenced, however.) Here is the Intelligencer article with the plagiarized sections underlined:
WEST LIBERTY - Citing the availability of a witness and ongoing settlement negotiations, the West Virginia Ethics Commission has postponed former West Liberty University president Robin Capehart's hearing until June 29.

The hearing had been set for April 16, but Capehart's attorneys requested the delay as a witness will be unable to testify on that date, according to a continuation order issued Tuesday by Hearing Examiner Jennifer Taylor.

The order also notes there are "ongoing settlement negotiations" with the Ethics Commission, which may require additional time beyond April 16.

In January, the commission's Probable Cause Review Board issued a 13-count charge of alleged ethics violations against Capehart for misuse of university resources and personnel in production and promotion of two motion pictures involving his daughter and produced by Capehart's privately owned independent film company, Flyover Films.

Among the allegations is that Capehart put film company manager/producer Kristen Siebert on the university's payroll, first as a temporary employee at the university's cable-access TV station and eventually as a consultant under a $4,000-a-month professional services contract.

Capehart also is accused of charging personal expenses to his state credit card while traveling to promote the movies.

Capehart resigned from the university March 11, but remains on staff as a legislative liaison and consultant at his president's salary through the end of the year.

We are about due for another one of those "why we're such a great newspaper" editorials from the Intelligencer. Perhaps this one will highlight their skills at cutting and pasting. 

--- Still more proof that Obama is out to get us ("It's a vendetta")

Published by waner in Wheeling Intelligencer · 19/3/2015 10:21:00
Tags: ObamaIntelligencer
I don't know how the Intelligencer missed this one. From a University of Buffalo news release:

President Obama picks UB to win against West Virginia on Friday

--- Leaving a sinking ship

Published by waner in Wheeling Intelligencer · 17/3/2015 17:08:00
Tags: CapehartIntelligencer
This morning's Intelligencer followed-up on the Capehart resignation "new job" (as they described it last week - see below) by using the Freedom of Information Act to get a copy of Capehart's agreement with the school's Board of Governors. As the article documents, Capehart will continue to receive his present salary ($220,000 for the year) plus $1,000 a month for vehicle reimbursement through the rest of 2015 in his new job which is to monitor "legislative activities relating to higher education" even though they have adjourned for the year. (Sounds like a lot of work to me - I wonder if he needs an assistant?)

Compared to Wednesday's headline, this one was neutral: "Details of Capehart Deal Revealed." Perhaps the Capehart deal offended even the editor of the Intelligencer -- the neutrality of the article's title, its contents, and the fact that the Intelligencer actually pursued a Freedom of Information request against one of their former favorites would suggest how far he has fallen. Can a critical editorial/Myer column be next? (Although it will be difficult to link him to President Obama.)

--- Another twisted editorial

Published by waner in Wheeling Intelligencer · 21/2/2015 12:13:00
Tags: IntelligencerObamaterrorism
The local editorials about President Obama and his administration usually have similar characteristics: lots of name-calling, twisted logic, and little or no evidence. Friday morning's editorial is all of these and more.
The editorial is in reaction to the President's op-ed piece in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times in which Obama discusses "Our fight against violent extremism." (Obama's op-ed was seen by most news sources as a preview of his address to the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism.)

President Obama made a number of points and if you've read his op-ed or saw any of the non-Fox news reports summarizing it, you may have been surprised (then again, if you're a regular reader, you probably weren't surprised) at the description found in yesterday's editorial which criticized the entire op-ed based on just one paragraph (which makes up only 5% of the op-ed). Here's the Obama paragraph:

More broadly, groups like al Qaeda and ISIL exploit the anger that festers when people feel that injustice and corruption leave them with no chance of improving their lives. The world has to offer today's youth something better.

And here is how the editorial begins:

Jobs for Jihadists? Will that be President Barack Obama's new strategy for battling Islamic terrorists? It is a real possibility, in view of Obama's thinking.

Yet Obama apparently believes resources and attention should be diverted from that to provide feel-good programs targeting young Muslims.

"A real possibility"? Is there even the slightest evidence that this is his solution? Of course not. Ignoring Obama's discussion of the causes of terrorism and his sentiment that the world needs to look for solutions (it was, after all a summit on countering violent extremism) the editorial beats this straw man to its nasty end:

What slogans will he devise? "Cash for Kalashnikovs"? "Reform, Not Rockets"? "Just Say No to Beheadings"?

And if this wasn't enough, the editorial concludes by invoking, for its own ends, the memory of Kayla Mueller:

An American who dedicated her life to helping people in the Middle East, especially children, was in the news recently.

Her name was Kayla Mueller.

How pathetic.

--- Heather Ziegler's mea culpa

Published by waner in Wheeling Intelligencer · 2/2/2015 16:57:30
Tags: corrections

Last Monday I highlighted something not usually found in a Wheeling "newspaper" --  an acknowledgement of an error.

A Message To Our Readers

Due to a reporter's error, Cardinal Timothy Dolan was misidentified in the Sunday News-Register's story on his visit to Wheeling, where he presided over Saturday's Red Mass at the invitation of the Most Rev. Michael Bransfield.

Being accurate in our reporting is something we take very seriously. We apologize for the error.

The Editors

Apparently that was not good enough for some people and so Heather Ziegler, who wrote the original story, wrote a Saturday column in which she apologized again and again.

I, too, made an awful mistake this past week. I misidentified Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, in last Sunday's News-Register. I have extended apologies and weathered ups and downs since.

It has been a long and harrowing week as I attempted to right the wrong and sit in front of a computer and begin again. Thirty-six years of newspaper work felt as though it fell into the abyss with a heavy thud. It's not easy to admit a mistake, but trust me, any journalist worth his or her salt will tell you such a miscue makes us genuinely ill. Human error is the only way I have to explain it.

I find this amazing.  In just the last month, Wheeling "newspapers" have:

1. dropped the last five paragraphs of an AP story about Obama’s State of the Union Address – the paragraphs suggested good things about Obamacare,

2.  ignored an important AP story on climate change that was carried nationwide,

3.  given us two consecutive days of biased, anti-Obama headlines,

4.  and passed off coal propaganda from Robert Murray as real news.

And if you go back to December 20, the Intelligencer lied about how much the prevailing wage has cost West Virginians -- the study they cited was actually about Michigan and doesn’t mention West Virginia anywhere in the study.

Lies, misrepresentations, and biased reporting and never a correction or a "we’re sorry."  Heather Ziegler makes an innocent and simple mistake, the Intelligencer calls attention to it, and even though Monday’s correction should have sufficed, Heather had to write a column about it. I appreciate your column, Heather. I only wish your colleagues cared half as much as you do about getting it right.

--- We are very serious about being accurate!

Published by waner in Wheeling Intelligencer · 26/1/2015 13:44:54
Tags: Intelligencercorrections

Yes, we know

From this morning's Intelligencer:

A Message To Our Readers

Due to a reporter's error, Cardinal Timothy Dolan was misidentified in the Sunday News-Register's story on his visit to Wheeling, where he presided over Saturday's Red Mass at the invitation of the Most Rev. Michael Bransfield.

Being accurate in our reporting is something we take very seriously. We apologize for the error.

The Editors

--- Fact-checking the Intelligencer - with Update

Published by waner in Wheeling Intelligencer · 21/1/2015 11:26:24
Tags: IntelligencerethicsObama

They're still at it

Continuing their week-long, ethically-challenge effort to discredit all things Obama, this morning’s Intelligencer printed an Associated Press analysis of last night’s State of the Union Address and follow-up. However, the Intelligencer left off the last 182 words of the original article which dealt with health care. Here's what is deleted from the original AP article:

SEN. JONI ERNST: The freshman from Iowa listed Obama's health care law among his "failed policies" and added, "We see the hurt caused by canceled health care plans and higher monthly insurance bills."

THE FACTS: The jury is still out on the law Republicans call "Obamacare."

The number of uninsured people is down by at least 10 million. A large ongoing Gallup survey documented a steady drop in the nation's uninsured rate since the law's big coverage expansion began last year.

The law's record on affordability is mixed. The share of Americans forgoing needed medical care because of cost is down significantly, according to a Commonwealth Fund survey, and fewer are struggling to pay medical bills. Yet many insured people with modest incomes still have problems with high out-of-pocket costs.

As for harm caused by lost insurance, many in Ernst's party are intent on repealing the law, which would probably mean even more lost coverage, because many of the estimated 10 million uninsured people who have gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act would no longer be able to afford their premiums.

This section is not especially flattering to Republicans and so I guess that it had to be dropped.  

The Wheeling Intelligencer – the Ohio Valley’s version of Fox News.

I first checked this out around 9:30 AM. I copied both the original and the Intelligencer version on their website and placed both of them into Word in order to get a word count. Two hours later, as I’m writing this up, I try to link to the Intelligencer version and I discover that the Intelligencer's version of the AP article with the missing 182 words is no longer on their website – it’s gone. Thus, you’ll need to go to the "newspaper" itself to see that the senator’s comments are missing.


Update - Maybe Republicans can't help themselves - it's in their DNA

From Think Progress:

The official website for House Republicans has posted on YouTube a version of President Obama’s State of the Union address which cuts out comments where the President was critical of Republican rhetoric on climate change, ThinkProgress has learned.

--- Code of ethics? What's a code of ethics? Updated Jan 20

Published by waner in Wheeling Intelligencer · 19/1/2015 16:18:08
Tags: Intelligencerethicsnewspaper

One of the first ideas taught in a basic journalism course is the concept of objectivity and how it applies to news articles and even headlines; it is a basic tenet of the profession’s ethics. For example, the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Jounalists states: "Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context."

Here are five headlines for today’s Associated Press story used throughout the United States about tonight’s State of the Union Address by President Obama.  See if you can spot the biased headline.

a.  Obama to pitch middle-class economic plan in annual address

b.  Obama's address to pitch tax proposals to help middle class

c.  Obama to pitch tax shift

d.  Obama to pitch tax plan to aid middle class in SOTU address

e.  Obama To Play Class Card

I "googled" the Associated Press article and a and b above were the first two sources to come up for the web.  I then "googled" the article using "news" and c and d were the first two listed. The last is, of course, the Wheeling Intelligencer’s page 1 headline. And that’s one of the many reasons why I refer to them as a "newspaper."

Update - January 20

Headlines are important because a lot of people skim rather than read a story; thus their knowledge of what a story says doesn't go much beyond the headline. And so the Intelligencer's biased headlines continued today.

A number of the newspapers that carried today's AP story assessing last year's State of the the Union Address used what I would guess was the default headline - "5 goals from Obama's 2014 State of the Union: Yay or Nay?" (See here for example.) Not surprising if you're a regular reader, the Intelligencer's headline drew a conclusion that was not warranted by the story: "2014's Big Promises Yielded Little Results." (Even the Fox Business Channel used the more neutrally-worded "Measuring 5 goals Obama laid out in his 2014 State of the Union address.")

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