Living in a glass house, throwing a Rolling Stone
Okay, I didn't get it just right but I was close. At the bottom of my post ten days ago on the Intelligencer's plagiarism of a Chaleston Gazette article (see four posts down) I speculated that we were due for another one of those "why we're such a great newspaper" editorials. But I was off a bit in my prediction. It's not an editorial - it's a Mike Myer column (a distinction without a difference?), and it's about more than just the local's credentials, it's also about how Rolling Stone magazine's has tarnished the reputation of newspapers because too much of the public lumps them together under a "media" heading.
Early in the column Myer tells us that "he'd like to pop a few people at Rolling Stone magazine in the mouth." Before doing so, he might take a closer look at his own "newspapers." This post is not a defense of Rolling Stone magazine -- their actions are indefensible. No, this is a look at Myer's hypocrisy in claiming some sort of moral superiority to the magazine.
1. How about misrepresenting a source? Scroll down one post and you see how the Intelligencer cherry picks its quotes. An isolated incident? Hardly -- see posts on December 20 and February 21, for example.
2. How about lying about what a source says? Go to a December 20 post about a prevailing wage editorial ("How low can they go?") in which the Intelligencer claims a study found that the prevailing wage cost West Virginian $224 million in one year. If you actually go to the study you'll find that the study was about Michigan; West Virginia is not mentioned anywhere in the report. But that didn't stop the editorial writer from telling us about how the prevailing wage had cost West Virginians so dearly. (Who's going to actually bother to check, right Michael?)
3. What about editing out of Associated Press articles material which didn't agree with their biases? In the most egregious example last year, they edited out polls from an AP report that a majority of both Democrats and Republicans believed in limiting greenhouse gases? (See my post of June 10 in the old section.) And how about dropping the last couple of paragraphs which criticized Republicans in another AP story after the most recent inaugural address in January?
4. How about refusing to carry stories about climate change? When the most important study of climate change in 2014 was released, neither paper carried the story (see March 26). When the largest worldwide rally on climate change took place last September most papers featured previews and then published long AP stories on their front pages about the event with pictures. The locals ignored all of this except for a couple of paragraphs about it on an inside page.
5. How about plagiarism - stealing from another source without proper attribution. Check the April 2 post below titled "Plagiarism."
And then Myer says:
We draw a hard line between our news pages and those on which we as an institution and as individual writers provide our opinions.
Yeah, right. Ironically, my first-ever post on this blog a year ago was about a biased headline on the front page. The story concerned a suit against the EPA and instead of using "High Court Climate Case Examines EPA Power" or something similar to that as every other newspaper I checked used, the Intelligencer used "EPA Hot Air Going to the Supreme Court." (See March 2 in the other section). They then followed it up two weeks later with "Holder: Give Drug Dealers a Break." (You might also check the anti-Obama headlines before the State of the Union Address. (See January 19 and 20).
Finally, I'll end with Myer's opening sentence:
Here at the Wheeling News-Register and The Intelligencer, we make our money by selling a single product to readers: trust.
I would disagree. The "newspapers" make money largely because the Ogden Corporation has a monopoly. What choice does the reader have other than going to Kroger to buy the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review which doesn't cover our local stories? ("The Trib" is a conservative newspaper but at least one that separates it's biases from its news pages.) There is no competition in the newspapers as you have in Charleston, for instance, where you have a conservative afternoon paper balanced by a more liberal morning paper. How about local TV and radio? Since the deregulation of radio and TV, the news has to pay its own way and thus it's tough to justify much expenditure on something that costs a lot of money to do the right way. Yes, people subscribe to Ogden "newspapers" but they want local sports and obituaries, election results, recipes, classified ads and comics. Yeah, Republicans and right-wingers probably "trust" the papers (read the online comments section sometime) but I doubt that many Democrats or liberals do. So, please spare us the sanctimonious crap. Clean up your act then maybe we can talk about trust.