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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 29, 2008 2:43 PM. The previous post in this blog was Portland taxpayers: Hope you're not broke. The next post in this blog is "Priority" mail: Nine days. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Monday, December 29, 2008

Nobody's watching

As the Oregonian continues to liquidate, offering less and less information by the month, the contribution from the kids at the Merc is also suddenly looking shaky. First, Amy Ruiz announces that she's quitting for a job as part of the Mayor Sam the Tram municipal nervous breakdown team -- a job for which she is well suited. (Full disclosure: She hates me.) Then Matt Davis, that other Merc charmer, starts writing public love letters to Nick Fish. Not to mention that at the Trib, Phil Stanford has left the building.

The politicians have got to be loving this. Just as the American media is essentially no longer covering the Iraq war, now there are precious few reporters hanging around Portland City Hall who know their derriere from a charrette and have enough guts to ask a hard question. Bad news, people.

Comments (24)

Ruiz is to journalism what Adams is to public leadership.

Ho hum, log-rolling in our time. You really expect anythign diff from most columnists who are more concerned with advancing an agenda than finding truth?

Hopefully, having Ruiz in Adams' office (former Oregonian journo Wade Nkrumah is also there) will mean that folks like me can get real answers to questions because Ruiz will know where I'm coming from. hopefully.

i hear your concern Jack. and I now feel even more pressure and motivation to start asking good questions and to start covering City Hall more closely.

As for Matt Davis. I think writing a positive story doesn't necessarily mean you can no longer be critical of the subject. I think a good journalist writes the story they feel needs to be written -- whether it's positive or more skeptical and probing.

I seriously doubt Mr. Davis is in "love" with anyone at City Hall.

Hopefully blogs will pick up some of the slack. Sadly it's unlikely that anyone will pay you or other bloggers to go to all of those boring public meetings and wade through and distill all the mind-numbing reports and other paperwork city government produces. But there's always Comcast Channel 30 . . . .zzzzzzzzzz.

@ Hopeful: I'm fairly sure that Amanda Fritz is the ONLY person I've ever met in Portland that watches channel 30... Now that she's on the inside, their total viewership is going to take a dive!

Wade Nkrumah once described the Baloney Joe's development pipedream as the "Burnside Beachhead."

A more accurate description perhaps ... but wrong nonetheless.

Sadly it's unlikely that anyone will pay you or other bloggers to go to all of those boring public meetings ...

Which is why B!X was an under appreciated city treasure.

Markalope: I try to watch the public meetings on Channel 30 from time to time, but they don't grab me the way the stuff on C-SPAN and C-SPAN2 does.

How much will we be paying the former columnist for an alternative news weekly to be a "strategic planning" advisor for the city?

This stuff would be a public embarrassment in any more serious city.

This was in the Guardian the other day (warning, a bit lefty for some tastes):

"Buy a newspaper for democracy"

I know you take great pride in saving a few pennies a day and not buying the Oregonian but maybe it's time to rethink. Papers have a role, even if it's just providing 90% of stuff for bloggers to whine about, and without them it will be a much poorer world.

I buy the NYT at the weekend even though I've read half the stories already online. Having paid money I find myself reading sections I skip when flicking through web pages, plus I like supporting the only US organization still following the money (2 trillion and counting) in Iraq. It's the same logic behind buying books at Powells, or some other local bookstore. I may be wasting a few dollars (compared to the online price), but if it means I improve my chances of being able to browse in a real bookstore for years to come it's a no brainer.

It seems print journalism is headed towards NPR style fund raising and corporate sponsorships. I guess I'd be willing to pledge the NYT and one local rag.

Matt Davis is a persistent public watchdog and will continue to be so as long as his greencard allows. After covering the sit/lie ordinance more so than anyone else, he is glad to see someone from the city seem to care about the homeless.

The Merc is good because their news duo covers stories that other outlets skip over.

Jack started going to Blogtown? Or did he just click on the link from Oregon Media Insiders and then read a few things?

The Merc is good because their news duo covers stories that other outlets skip over.

uh huh. you mean like, say, this top story?

c'mon. even the Mercury makes fun of the Mercury. scraping snarky, four-letter hipsterism into a pile and calling it "journalism" requires a serious suspension of disbelief.

Ever since Busse left, the Merc isn't as effusive about "doin' blow" ...

It seems to me that there is a formula: hip cool reporters and columnists are cheerleaders for those whom we are supposed to perceive as hip and cool themselves; case in point, Nick Fish, to whom Oregonian columnist Anna Griffin also recently wrote a love letter. Objective fact finders are ousted.

What is really scary imo, is that Mr. Fish is on the board of advisors to the Campaign for Equal Justice, along with other interested politicos, like Mike Schrunk and Karen Garst of OSB, among others. This entity, which provides funding to Legal Aid Services of Oregon,creates the illusion that it is maintaining the integrity of the justice system, when it is actually creating a perception that an historically troubled system is just.

Real whistleblowers and watchdogs have never fared well here.

You aren't kidding, Cynthia. The slightest criticism of how things are run in Portland, and the experts on "Portland being the most liveable city on Earth" (where "liveable" is defined by the number of people whose income is dependent upon the magic words "trust fund," "insurance settlement," or "grow house") will almost literally whine the critic to death. After a while, it's not worth the effort, because trying to change things just wastes your time and annoys the pig.

You learn almost nothing by attending public meetings. To a great extent, they are shows designed to impress the public. The real action occurs behind the scenes before issues ever arise in public meetings. This is why investigative reporters are so essential - they can dig up information that public officials don't want citizens to know about. Bloggers just don't have the time or training to match what good investigative reporters can do if they're not restrained by editors worried about offending their advertisers.

It was an out of state investigative reporter who finally broke up a legal racket in the Marin County California Family Law Court. It seems like local reporters somehow become part of the problem; I think it is because they listen to "experts" who are interested.

Something interesting imo is that John Kroger picked Oregonian legal reporter Ashabel (Tony) Greene for his staff. Sounds like a good combo. Hope it works out to the benefit of the everyday citizens who are being hurt by abuses.

Amy Ruiz isn't a Journalist in any shape or form. Most of her babblings in the Mercury were all too obvious rewrites of local DNC, City hall and Blue Oregon press releases. Her "story" about how Democrats won various seats in East Multnomah County failed to mention how all the Democrat candidates outspent their opponents by 2 to 1. How else can one account for a nobody like Nick Kaul that lives in a dump in Rockwood and who had virtually no name recognition winning a seat in the legislature?

Hi Jack. I got an email in New York telling me to go to your site, and I couldn't resist! [There goes my effort to preserve a "work/life" balance while on vacation—I'm supposed to be meeting my family for breakfast right now...] I'm on vacation until Friday Jan 2, but would really love to get your opinions and feedback about how best the Mercury can continue to dog city hall.

As for the love letter, in my view, Fish deserved the positive writeup this time around. If you scan through my coverage of him over the last six months, much of it has been highly critical and challenging. It's all about being fair and balanced.

Perhaps you'd like to grab a coffee with me some time this weekend? I don't mind making the trek out to Irvington. 503 502 2106 is my cell number.

Thanks for reading.

It's all about being fair and balanced.

no, it's not, unless your name is Fox News. then, it's a marketing slogan.

you see, if a journalist needs to write an article to acheive "fairness and balance" in past work, that means past work was "unfair and unbalanced." in other words, the concept is generally absurd.

though journalists debate what the role and goal of journalism should be, there's general agreement on this: be responsible.

responsible means, at the very least, this: have high standards of work. write the facts. check them. be honest. when seeking truth, report the sides of the story as best as possible.

in other words, if you're sticking to a mantra of "fair and balanced", then *make every story fair and balanced.*

other than that, writing a story to "make up" for a lack in previous work is a dangerous path, and not a very credible one.

"plus I like supporting the only US organization still following the money"

Ummm...the NYT were part of the media wank-fest that gave the Iraq war a gold seal of approval.

"Perhaps you'd like to grab a coffee with me some time this weekend? I don't mind making the trek out to Irvington."

What I wouldn't give to eavesdrop on that conversation.


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

King Estate, Pinot Gris, Backbone 2014
Oberon, Napa Cabernet 2013
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Nine Hats, Red 2013
Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Roxy Ann, Claret 2012
Januik, Merlot 2012
Conundrum, White 2013
St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012
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Decoy, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Marqués de Murrieta, Reserva Rioja 2010
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Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Forlorn Hope, St. Laurent, Ost-Intrigen 2013
Upper Five, Tempranillo 2010 and 2012
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
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Jim Barry, The Lodge Hill Shiraz 2013
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Domaine de Durban Muscat 2011
Patricia Green, Estate Pinot Noir 2012
Crios, Cabernet, Mendoza 2011
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Abacela, Vintner's Blend #15
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Arcangelo, Negroamaro Rosato
Vale do Bomfim, Douro 2012
Portuga, Branco 2013
Taylor Fladgate, Late Bottled Vintage Porto 2009
Pete's Mountain, Pinot Noir, Kristina's Reserve 2010
Rodney Strong, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Bookwalter, Subplot No. 28, 2012
Coppola, Sofia, Rose 2014
Kirkland, Napa Cabernet 2012
Trader Joe's Grand Reserve, Napa Meritage 2011
Kramer, Chardonnay Estate 2012
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Bottego Vinaia, Pinot Grigio Trentino 2013
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Pete's Mountain, Elijah's Reserve Cabernet, 2007
Beaulieu, George Latour Cabernet 1998
Januik, Merlot 2011
Torricino, Campania Falanghina 2013
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Chloe, Pinot Grigio, Valdadige 2013
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Rodney Strong, Canernet, Alexander Valley 2011
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Portuga, Rose 2013
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Haden Fig, Pinot Noir 2012
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Vina Real, Plata, Crianza Rioja 2009
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Argyle Brut 2007
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Anciano, Tempranillo Reserva 2007
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Casone, Toscana 2008
Fonseca Porto, Bin No. 27
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Andrew Rich, Gewurtztraminer 2008
Rodney Strong, Charlotte's Home Sauvignon Blanc 2012
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Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir Rose 2012
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Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 56
At this date last year: 93
Total run in 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
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In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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