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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 17, 2012 7:46 AM. The previous post in this blog was This is it! The final underdogs.. The next post in this blog is Portland burnout. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

More attitude from O reporters

The folks who write up the news at Portland's daily newspaper are really bending the line between fact and opinion these days. They all want to be columnists, in an era when their employer has no more money for columnists. So their biases bleed all over the paper.

Here's a maddening example from Joseph Rose last week. In it, he expresses his opinions that (a) the recent beating incident on the MAX train was not a hate crime, and (b) Tri-Met is a safe mode of transportation. Those are really interesting opinions. We think they're both wrong, but that's not the point. The real sin here is that the same fellow who reports "commuter news" can state them as if they were fact, on a web page that doesn't clearly identify them as his opinion. In fact, it's under the "News" tab, not the "Opinion" tab, on the top of the web page.

Then there's this piece by Brad Schmidt, one of two City Hall reporters. In it, he states as a given that streetcar and light rail projects will continue to expand in Portland, come hell or high water. No matter that there will be two, and maybe three, new City Council members next year. No matter that the city's debt picture is out of control. No matter that opponents of rail are suddenly winning battles in Lake Oswego and Clackamas County. No one is interviewed but a City Hall type, and her spin is offered as an immutable truth.

Then reporter Everton Bailey Jr. tells us that the Lake Oswego streetcar "was expected to foster economic development." No mention of whose expectation that was. No mention that that assertion is open to debate, and was vigorously debated in Lake Oswego. The implication is that the link between streetcars and economic prosperity is proven. It's a given. Don't argue. No skepticism at all.

It's hard to tell which of these guys is actively rooting for the bureaucrats, which is simply having his critical thinking blunted by being around them all day, and which just doesn't fully comprehend what he's writing about. We have our suspicions, but whichever of those is the case, it's not good.

Comments (28)

Everton Bailey Jr. also joyously uses the "wealthy" descriptor in his lead in this article:

http://www.oregonlive.com/lake-oswego/index.ssf/2012/01/doubts_from_taxpayers_elected.html

He's technically right (probably) that the enclave of business owners was "wealthy." But why not leave the adjective out and just give us demonstrable facts?

Isn't that TriMet post posted on his blog at OregonLive? I don't think it's an Oregonian article. Says "Hard Drive column" near the top.

Same thing with that Brad Schmidt post, it's on the Portland City Hall blog.

They are propagandists for the state, hoping to make the same deal as Amy J. Ruiz - lie, lie, and deny enough for city hall and get your gov job. These O employees were all statists to begin with, preaching with not just their tongues and minds, but with ink, evangelizing submission without thought or inquiry.

This is the new journalism. Opinions without any understanding of economics.

Opposition to poor planning and policy continues to form in the image of common sense, and in spite of the local spin. I have read many reports lately that resemble opinion much more than fact. They hold much less meaning than ever before. As more people understand the spin concept, the power of the printed word from those organizations becomes less and less powerful. Their influence becomes neutered.

I would love to read "new study from University of North Carolina at Charlotte makes a good case that transit stations cut down on crime" that Joseph Rose mentions in his Hard Drive article. If I only had a government grant ($35) I could compare the abstract to the study. "micro-level data on reported crimes and quasi-experimental before-and-after methadology" won't get me on the bandwagon.
"decrease in property crimes once the station locations are announced, which remains relatively stable after the light rail begins operating." Build away.

When Janie Har is behind the PolitiFact wheel, the line between fact and opinions is a blurry as the center line on New Years Eve.

Oh, and you think the O is bad? Seem the New York Times is even worse.

Isn't that TriMet post posted on his blog at OregonLive? I don't think it's an Oregonian article. Says "Hard Drive column" near the top.

Same thing with that Brad Schmidt post, it's on the Portland City Hall blog.

Interesting double-standard, that a blogger is not a news reporter but news agencies and reporters can have blogs in their news sections.

I have a copy of the Sunday Oregonian with Rose's opinion piece on the front page of the metro section. It was in close proximity to the official story (to which he contributed).

dhughes609 If you're really interested in reading the article you should be able to get a copy of the article, free of charge, from your public library via Interlibrary Loan. Whenever possible the library will email the article to you directly.

That Rose piece bothered me as well. Apply the usual thought experiment: Imagine the roles reversed. What would the media reaction be? The O would probably run another hair-shirt, front page stem-winder about how after all these decades we still aren't very welcoming here, and why are we just so inadequate?

Rose's warning is a reflexive inoculation against any fruitful discussion of cultural background as a factor. We may all be shoehorned into a wee metal box, but we're expected to silently self-segregate in lieu of holding each individual to the same standard of behavior (or merely the TriMet Code of Conduct).

At another level, the question is moot. I've seen bad actors of all varieties cause problems over the years. If there was no problem, then he wouldn't need to steer the narrative. He's anticipating inevitable ugly web comments, and that's a valid concern. But why should I simply look away?

Is a badly-behaved individual ever just an individual? I'll tell you about the young guy with the long skateboard who got a free ride just by swinging it around a bit at the operator and passengers. Or there's Keyboard Dude who swears out the operator for no reason, and gets sent off (along with his equally abusive lady friend. And his keyboard).

Those cases are disruptive to other passengers (including children present), they are ugly and sad, but they don't result in police calls. They never come up on the news because they don't have that controversial angle. When they get the delicious angle, it had better be tilted the right way. Would this story have gotten any traction if it wasn't for the video?

I suppose that the "sacrifice in the name of fairness" canard is working out for some folks, so maybe they aren't wrong for leaning on that. It certainly isn't a sustainable gambit, as a random trip through TriMet will indicate to anyone willing to see. I ride now, and will continue to do so... but I choose not to be a victim.

Content of one's character... Oh, that was yesterday (both literally and figuratively).

Rose is a nice guy, I've met him, but that post is terrible.

Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.
- Joseph Goebbels

That Rose piece was truly amazing, even for The Zero.

But I'll never forget the immortal words of their former Plagiarist-in-Chief, Jonathan Nicholas: when asked why he went into "journalism", he said (and I kid you not; you can't make this stuff up), "I wanted to make a difference".

Yeah, that's what "journalism's" all about.

It's hard to tell which of these guys is actively rooting for the bureaucrats, which is simply having his critical thinking blunted by being around them all day, and which just doesn't fully comprehend what he's writing about. We have our suspicions, but whichever of those is the case, it's not good.

Generally speaking, it's usually nothing more than a herd mentality thing, i.e., adopting a particular mindset and worldview, it all flowing easily from there, no questions asked.

Strange how no one mentions the editors.

These guys have editors, don't they?

Aren't editors supposed to delete the pejorative, the slanted, the opinionated, the unsupported assertion, the loaded phrase?

Or is that an outdated concept?

Jimbo, I mentioned the editors in my comments on one of Bailey Jr's stories:

http://www.oregonlive.com/lake-oswego/index.ssf/2012/01/doubts_from_taxpayers_elected.html

To edit their work might hurt their self esteem...
And we can't have that now can we ?

Missing from the justified critique of Rose's "column" regarding the MAX beat down, was the headline that appeared in the hard copy of the next day's paper.

It read, "Worse..." than the actual assault, was the comments from readers indicating the beat down was racial. Changed in online versions to, "...just as bad..."

I see the online comments calling out Rose are no longer available at oregon live online.

Maybe we need a homegrown Curtis Sliwa-type to put together a group of Guardian Angels for MAX. Otherwise, I'm afraid its only a matter of time before we have to deal with a homegown Bernie Goetz-style incident.

"That Rose piece bothered me as well. Apply the usual thought experiment: Imagine the roles reversed. What would the media reaction be? The O would probably run another hair-shirt, front page stem-winder about how after all these decades we still aren't very welcoming here, and why are we just so inadequate?"

The point is understood, but moot, for this one reason:

"I really don't think they singled me out because I was white," the Centennial Middle Schooler said. "This wasn't a racial thing."

Just because you feel injustice exists in the "roles reversed" scenario by way of false accusations/assumptions, that isn't an excuse for fighting back just to get even. You have to be the better person here, as Karley clearly was.

If in the course of any violent interaction with a black person, a white person uttered the word "black," the case would be prosecuted as a hate crime. Whether the victim wanted that result or not.

I'd see it as laziness. Pass off mild rewrites of press releases from whichever governmental agency or corporation as news. Then most of the quote on quote reporters either get furlough days or are no longer on staff but are freelancers. They aren't being treated like professionals and they don't act like professionals.

DaveC, your point is well taken. I focused on the muddled media reaction, and less on the victim's own first-hand opinion -- which certainly ought to count for something! =-) She could be right-on.

I really have no idea other than what's in the (incomplete) video. I compare that to my own experiences, having been caught in the middle of a few physical disagreements on TriMet. Maybe one or two had a "hate" component, although not the primary factor IMHO.

Maybe I bristle at being lectured not to think about the elephant. Every once in a while, cultural differences are a factor in such an incident. When is it okay to talk about that? Is there a time limit after each incident?

Regarding the Joseph Rose column, he makes a stab at providing some statistics regarding safety on public transit vs. safety in automobiles with his carjacking comment, but it is quite a pathetic stab.

I wonder if anyone has really studied this issue. Is the amount of crime on Tri-Met really going up, or are we just getting anecdotal sensationalism? After all, murder in most of this nation has plummeted in the past 20 years, but you wouldn't know it from reading the press.

And a statistical comparison of safety in public transit vs. private vehicles, in terms of accident and crime rates per trip for each, would be great to see.

"If in the course of any violent interaction with a black person, a white person uttered the word "black," the case would be prosecuted as a hate crime. Whether the victim wanted that result or not.æ
Is that true? Got any cites for that? I suspect it may sometimes be the case because the police officer would not want to be reprimanded for leaving the fact out of a report, but would the DA's office really act on it?

Of course they would. They would have no choice.

["If in the course of any violent interaction with a black person, a white person uttered the word "black," the case would be prosecuted as a hate crime. Whether the victim wanted that result or not.
Is that true? Got any cites for that? I suspect it may sometimes be the case because the police officer would not want to be reprimanded for leaving the fact out of a report, but would the DA's office really act on it?]

Federal Courts of Appeals routinely find that the prosecution meets its burden of proving that the defendant attacked the victim "because of" her race by introducing racial slurs made by the defendant into evidence.

Choosing to prosecute or charge a “bias motivated” or “hate” crime is inherently a value judgment on the part of police and prosecutors and is patently disparate.

Statistics reflect that hate crime laws are actually meant to be enforced for the protection of politically favored groups or “untouchables” aligned with prevailing orthodoxies.

In 2005, the most recent year for which statistics compiled by the Department of Justice are available for certain categories of crime, whites accounted for 60 percent of known hate crime offenders while blacks accounted for 20 percent. But when cross-racial violent crimes are tabulated, Justice Department statistics show that blacks attack whites far more than whites attack blacks. In 2005, there were more than 645,000 victims of cross-racial violent crimes between blacks and whites in the U.S. In 91 percent of those crimes, black offenders attacked white victims.

An analysis of 1999 FBI statistics in 2001 found that white violence against black people was 28 times more likely (1 in 45 incidents) to be labeled as a “hate crime” than black violence against white people (1 in 1254 incidents).

The Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that in 1999, there were 657,008 black-on-white crimes of violence, as compared to some 91,051 of the white-on-black variety. Although black-perpetrated interracial crimes outnumbered white-perpetrated interracial crimes by a ratio of about 7.2 to 1, the official hate-crime statistics showed white offenders outnumbering black offenders by a 4 to 1 margin. Put another way, about 1 out of every 45 white-on-black attacks is classified as a hate crime, while the corresponding fraction for black-on-white attacks is an astounding 1 out of 1,254.

I could go on but you get the idea.


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