Bad Journalism + Biased Editor = The Gray News

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Why Ray Clark's editorials are a waste

Ray Clark’s Editorials are either ferociously angry or completely boring. The angry ones used to be directed against citizens who spoke up. The angry ones nowadays are directed councilors who speak up. The boring ones are when he talks about himself.

A newspaper’s pages are too precious to waste space with unproductive anger or boring, ego-driven drivel.

John McCormick, Deputy Editorial Page Editor of the Chicago Tribune says “editorials are meant to express a newspaper's convictions and to help readers synthesize the wealth of information and argument they encounter. Your ability to perform that task well," he says, "depends on your determination to never let your editorial page become the dull place some readers, and some journalists, feel that it is." Like the Gray News has become.

McCormick goes on to say, "It's the Wizard of Oz voice that we think we're supposed to mimic. It is stuffy, omnipotent, often pompous.” Ray Clark must be the Wizard of Oz. His editorials are stuffy, omnipotent, and pompous.

In this week’s editorial Mr. Clark expresses his thoughts about receiving an early Christmas catalog.

McCormick says that before editorial writers begin writing they should ask themselves some questions, one of them being: “What are we contributing to the debate? What's the added value here? Just our opinion? New facts? New arguments, contexts, or dimensions to consider? The best opinion is reported opinion. The power of your voice comes not from your job description, but from the strength of your facts and the reasoning that drives your arguments.”

Mr. Clark's musings about his spending habits at Christmas time adds nothing to a civic debate and really is not all that powerful.

Further, McCormick says, editors should “offer readers an organized debate that is rich with context and considers the likelihood that the reader needs to be brought up to speed on the issue.”

In his editorial, Mr. Clark wrote: “The seasons seem to be accelerating. You can’t buy anything for a season in the actual season any more.” I think we're all up to speed on this already. This editorial has no power in the voice. No strength of facts. No organized debate. In my humble opinion, it's just wasted space.

Friday, July 28, 2006

This week's paper not neutral

The Gray News front page today: Nathan Tsukroff has a bylined article about Gray Fire-Rescue. Nathan is a member of Gray Fire-Rescue. Anne Gass wrote about the Gray Community Endowment. Gass is a member of the Gray Community Endowment. Ray Clark wrote about the Library. Ray Clark is a member of the Library Trustees. Brad Fogg wrote about the Gray Cable. Fogg is Chair of the Gray Cable Committee.

And that was pretty much it for the front page.

Here is the bias: Each of the 4 bylined stories was written by someone with a stake in or is directly participating in what was being presented as news. Newspapers’ stock in trade is objectivity, meaning real reporters who strive to be neutral gather the facts and assemble them accurately. This week’s Gray News was the opposite. Each of the articles was essentially a press release advocating for that person’s pet committee. Reporters must have not only emotional objectivity from the news they report, but as a baseline benchmark must not be part of it. This week’s paper was utter failure in this regard: neutral news. There wasn't any.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Gray News gathers news via telepathy

On July 21, The Gray News wrote:

"In the middle of the continued discussion of a mobile vendor's permit for an ice-cream truck that wants to do business at Wilkie's Beach, the television camera went off, and no more of the Council was to be seen. But it finally voted 3-1, with Foster opposed, to deny the permit, on the ground that Gray's mobile-vendor ordinance only allows parking on private property with written permission; an ice-cream truck parks on the road, which is public property. Councilor Julie DeRoche said later that it's time the Council (a) held to Town ordinances as written and (b) revisit ordinances as necessary.

The Council also received applications for the MSAD #15 Board of Directors seat from Celeste Gosselin and Sheryl Robinson, who ran for a set on the Board in June and lost by only three votes. The Council has set a deadline of July 28 for applications, and will name a replacement on August 1."

There were no Gray News personnel at the meeting. If they were not there, HOW did they get the news? The obvious answer is that they got it from their friends on the Council. Since Julie DeRoche was mentioned in the part after the cameras went dark, we can see they got the news from her. Even if they got it from an audience member, the report should state that.

It is highly unethical for a news organization to put out the news that is from the mouths of the elected officials and pretend it is actual newsgathering.

Unfortunate events occur: so the cable committee guys ran out of money or bought faulty equipment or something that caused a serious malfunction in the one job they are supposed to do, and the cameras went dark. Sometimes things happen. But from the point at which the news reporter is no longer gathering the news personally, Mr Clark should have clearly stated in his report that it was from a newsmaker. It is lying to the public to do anything otherwise.

The only conclusion one can reach from this breach is that The Gray News is in the pocket of the Council and totally unethical.

Illustrated Guide to The Gray News

Wearing blinders, the news is always just out of their reach.

Nathan's office. Now you know why he is not inspired. Or creative. Or anything.

People going to get The Monument.

How Nathan feels about that.

How Ray feels about that.

Future of The Gray News.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Gray News is a booster paper

Newspapers In Gray Wage A War Over Words
There's No Lack Of Controversy And Bitterness As The Gray News Is Challenged By The Monument. By Tom Bell April 18, 2001, Portland Press Herald

The bitterness and controversy stemmed from the Gray News and their inability to accept that they are a booster paper being challenged by a real paper. The Gray News is a booster paper, protector of the government and aggressor against the citizens. The Monument is protector of the citizens and exposer of government under the Sunshine Laws. The Gray News is uninspiring, vapid, and usually empty of news. The photo at left is of Nathan Tsukroff trying to come up with an idea.

The Gray News says “Bad news gets around town without the paper's help,” meaning they are a booster paper. Being a booster is not an isolated phenomenon.

A comment at entitled “Canada’s Insipid Journalism Capital” caught my eye. Insipid journalism, what a great phrase. The opinion went on: “Those who live in cities bigger than Kingston might not be acquainted with the unique charms of the small-town booster paper. These papers place stories about road closures on page A1, above the fold.” Do you notice the Gray News does that? Booster.

An opinion expressed about The Oklahoman: “I can't stand the Oklahoman. It's a booster paper. Their "journalists" don't know what the word "investigate" means. They are primarily concerned with putting a pretty face on every under the table scam pulled on the taxpayers. … In many major cities, the newspaper acts as a check on the ability of politicians to get away with murder. Here it does everything possible to make us look the other way.” I liked the last line. The Gray News does that. ‘Look the other way, nothing happening here. Certainly not rising taxes, violations of the Right to Know law, Council Chair conflict of interest with Enercon. No, not violations of personnel policy, mishandling of TIF funds, errors on warrant. No, absolutely nothing to report.’

The Knight Chair in Journalism at the UNC at Chapel Hill, Philip Meyer, said: “…Yielding to pressure to be a community booster is easy and cheap. Gathering and presenting the facts that stimulate public deliberation is difficult and expensive.” The Gray News is known for taking the easy way out. And I do not think they even know how to stimulate public deliberation without making anger the central point of the discussion.

Editor Russ Smith of Baltimore’s City Paper said: “I simply don't care for shoddy, self-aggrandizing, booster journalism. As I've written in the past, Baltimore is a major city, and it's just embarrassing that its monthly magazine might as well be written by tourism officials.” The Gray News is a ‘welcome to Gray everything is perfect’ paper. It's embarrassing.

Being a booster paper is one kind of service, but the Gray News folks should realize that they are not providing a news service. As such, they should stand back and let the real newspapers do their job.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Another area the Gray News fails

Form the Press Herald article in 2000 about the Gray News's failings:

"He [Clark] can coin a clever phrase, like the paper's new slogan: "Black and white and read all over Gray." But he's not really a journalist, he said. "I'm just a guy walking around town."

Biasbuster says: Mr Clark saying 'I'm just a guy walking around town' does not inspire confidence. The Journalism Code of Ethics says: "Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information." Walking around town...suppressing news...boosting government in return for favors or money...those acts fail the code and they fail the citizens.

"But communities need journalists, not just boosters, said Toplitt, at Boston University. Decisions that have enormous impact on people's lives are made in small towns, and residents turn to their local papers for impartial information. "There are certain watchdog functions that people are looking for in their local paper," he said."

Biasbuster says that one of the most important functions of the paper is informing the citizenry. The Gray News's stance of not having 'bad news get around,' and boosting whatever government does fails that function.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Gray News ethical failings not only a local perspective

Biasbuster has been condemned for putting forth the truth about bias in the local media, The Gray News. Some people think that The Gray News is above reproach and/or they can do no wrong.

I do have some knowledge of these things, but I recognize that being anonymous the information put up here carries less credence with some. That is why I try to stay fact based and give source comparison so you can decide. Even still, some people are hesitant to see the light, saying 'it's just some anonymous person saying these things,' or as one bon vivant put it, a 'nasty old harpy.' Ahem.

Anyway, here is some comment from other persons, named, from the industry, who think that participating in the news that you cover is BAD BAD BAD. And Unethical.

In 2000, the Portland Press Herald did an article about the Gray news's ethics and lack thereof. Quoted was Sheldon Toplitt, an attorney who teaches media law and ethics at Boston University's College of Communication, and he said "some principles are so basic that they apply to a paper as small as the Gray News. One of them is making sure that news reporters and newsmakers do not have common ties and interests."

"Toplitt said the deal with the school district [getting free rent in exchange for not printing anything bad about the District], and Clark's [elected] seat on the Charter Commission, make it difficult for the paper to meet the community's need for an impartial source of news. "You can't help but (have) an appearance of impropriety."

"Marian McCue, editor and owner of The Forecaster in Falmouth, said she forbids reporters from being active in local politics. "It's just being respectful of the power you have," said McCue, whose weekly tabloid covers Portland's northern suburbs. "The integrity and credibility of the paper means everything."

Hmmm, unethical AND disrespectful. What a shame. Newsprint is a terrible thing to waste.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Ray Clark has no appropriate experience

From the Press Herald article in 2000 about the Gray News's lack of ethics:

"Clark never worked at a newspaper until he took this job, which pays $175 a week. He's an advertising writer who still earns most of his income writing copy for junk mail distributors."

Well. That explains some things.

"No news is good news!"

Overview of how the Gray News is not a real newspaper

According to Wikipedia, "General-interest newspapers are usually journals of current news. Those can include political events, features, crime, business, culture, sports, and opinions (either editorials, columns, or political cartoons).

The Press Herald did an article in 2000 about the Gray News's ethical failings. One sentence from the article says: "This 3,500-circulation weekly largely ignores news about crime and unseemly behavior. Bad news gets around town without the paper's help, said Miriam Bisbee, the Gray News' 77-year-old correspondent from the First Congregational Church." Miriam is 82 now and still on the Board of directors.

So, no crime in the Gray News. Fine. What else should be in The Gray News but isn't? Wikipedia:

political events, (yes but only if they are Democrats)
features (no)
crime, (no)
business, (no)
culture, (no)
sports, (no)
--editorials, (yes, LOTS!!)
--columns, (yes, LOTS!)
--political cartoons (no. They're too "vicious")
weather news and forecasts (no)
photographs to illustrate stories; (no)
editorial cartoonists, (no)
comic strips (no)
and other entertainment:
--crosswords (no)
--horoscopes. (no)

Tally: According to the online encyclopedia, The Gray News should have 16 separate items in it in order to call it a newspaper. The Gray News actually has: 3.

Maybe they think to make up for the lack of news it can substitute opinion and no one will notice.

What DID the Gray News have in it this week?

Early night for Council, (a short non-news article)
First Congregational, (a church article by crime-busting Miriam Bisbee)
Good Shepherd, (another church article)
Journey for Sight, (a thank you note)
Karate Camp, (promotion about karate)
Park the Ark, (dunno, too bored to read it)
St. Gregory, (another church article)
Two Council meetings, (a repeat of a notice about an upcoming meeting)
Underage Drinking, (don't do it)

No news is good news!
To left, a fossilized Gray News reader

Friday, July 14, 2006

Directors are accountable too

Nathan Tsukroff is not to blame. Ray Clark is not to blame. In one way, we are all responsible for being ethical and honest, and both Nathan and Ray fail those benchmarks. But their repeated failures in ethics and simple, unbiased newsgathering are repeatedly supported by the apparent silence of the Board of Directors, who are their bosses.

Most corporations are run by a Board, and the people on the Gray News board, according to Mr. Clark, have a meeting once in a while where the receivables are ignored, the business is dispatched quickly and the remaining time is spent gossiping. If the Board does not set standards of ethics and policies to follow, and ensure their employees adhere to them, the Board is as much at fault as are Nathan and Ray. It is the Board's responsibility to run a responsible newspaper, and they most certainly have not run anything close to it for a long time.

These people are on the Gray News Board of directors. Biasbuster is not telling tales out of school. Mr. Clark listed them in an editorial, published it, and it was subsequently mailed to every home in Gray.

The Gray News Board of Directors: Miriam Bisbee, Jim Blanchard, Mary Bosse, Audrey Burns, Cindy Kimpel, Judy McDonald, June O'Donnell, Blaine Skilling, Yvonne Wilkinson and Ray Clark as ex officio President.

If you do not think it is OK for Ray to write that the Gray News stays away from influencing news and taking stands on issues while at the same time Nathan Tsukroff is hitting the streets influencing people to sign a recall petition, if you think it is not OK for newsmakers to participate in the news they cover, if you think it is not OK for reporters to insert their opinions into news articles, if you think it is not OK to malign other businesses in town by name (The Monument), if you think it is not OK for them to get reports of the meetings second-hand and pass them off as news, if you think it is not OK for Ray Clark to lie to the media and the citizens, TELL THEM.

Do not let the board off the hook- they are responsible for allowing their paper's ethics to lapse. Whether or not they go down the tubes and fold- and frankly I hope they do- let the Directors know they are responsible for the paper's failures.

Letting them escape accountability is not OK.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Tiny-Man is funny-man

I like this blog:

Land of Doh-z!

A spoof of one of the recall people's blogs, "The Heart of Gray Maine (Land of Oz)"

More than you ever wanted to know about Gray, Maine.

Those funny things they say!

The Town council, among other duties, is elected to make policy, act on recommendations of the Town Manager and be staunch supporters of the person they hired to do the job. (Julie DeRoche, 2-19-99)

It will be interesting to see if now-councilor DeRoche sides unquestioningly with the staff, against the citizens, at all costs. The Gray News folks have had a long history of being staunch supporters of anything Town Office comes up with, including egregious raises in town budgeting and supporting the setting aside of standard policy.

Ms DeRoche, being the Gray News's candidate-friend, is on record many times as supporting employees over citizens.

The Gray News is, and will remain, a community newspaper. It covers Gray and only Gray...It does not pretend to be a regional paper. It is dedicated to Gray
Ray Clark, 2001-03-09

The Gray News is located in New Gloucester. It is there because that is the only place they could get free rent. New Gloucester stories appear regularly in The Gray News. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but Mr Clark cannot have it both ways. Either he is a paper dedicated to Gray or he is confused and puts in stories of New Gloucester while pretending the paper is something it is not.

Foster refused to forward the actual e-mails themselves, and, in fact, Foster obtained an opinion from Town Attorney William "Bill" Dale that he had fulfilled the FOA request by printing the e-mails in their entirety. Nathan Tsukroff, 2006-01-27

As a reporter who claims to be the watchdog of the council, Mr Tsukroff should know that the FOI request had indeed been fulfilled by printing them out and giving them to the requester. The Freedom of Access request is fulfilled when the documents requested change hands from government to requester.

And the time for getting all worked up over stuff over which we have little control is over, too.
Ray Clark editorial 6-24-05

But, alas, it wasn't. Several weeks later, the Gray News was part of a recall effort to get councilors off the council with whom they did not agree.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

It was good for a while

This is what the Gray News started out as.
You can see, every Friday, how it has ended up.

Vol 1, No. 1, motto: "Progress is the Ability to Make Ideas Work"
Vol 38, Number 26, motto: "Building a Better Community Through Communication"
Unofficial motto: "We always have the last word"

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Wah, wah, they don't talk to us

The Gray News folks have been grousing in their editorials and their commentaries- solicited and otherwise- that the Town Councilors will not talk to them. Having enjoyed a monopoly for 30 years, and not having gotten used to the fact that other media now exist and that others now encroach on their news territory, they are furious about this state of affairs. They say that the Council should not favor The Monument over the Gray News.

The Gray News forgets two things:

1. There are many media outlets the Councilors do speak with. Councilors speak with reporters from The Monument, Press Herald, Scarborough Current, Channel 6, Channel 8, and Channel 13. Gaining comment is a privilege, not a given. If the councilors will not reply to Mr Clark and Mr Tsukroff, but do reply to Justin Ellis, Ann Kim, Christy McKinnon, Paul Livingstone, Elizabeth Prata etc, it is incumbent upon those two to examine why. And change their practices if necessary.

2. The councilors will not talk to them because the Gray News lies. The councilors will not talk to them because the Gray News is abusive. The Gray News cannot be trusted to put forth their information intact. These items have been proven in earlier entries and over time with each of the councilors in turn.

The Gray News should leave aside its myopic view that it and The Monument are the only media out there. They are not. The Gray News should look at itself to examine why, among all these media outlets, council refusals only include THEM.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A year of Ray Clark

Snippets from almost every week's issues from Ray Clark. By spring, though, the newspaper's presence online was spotty and archives and issues disappearing like fog on a sunny day. IMHO stands for In My Humble Opinion and is Mr. Clark's designated editorial.


Just an hour after being lauded for their "courage", three members of the Gray Town Council reached a new level of political expediency. Jan 20, 2006 Ray Clark and Nathan Tsukroff, from a news report

Cleaning out the trashcan of Council vs. CEDC: Has there been in the Town of Gray a more naked display of collusion in the face of inevitable defeat than Upham, Crane and Foster scuttling like crawfish away from a vote on abolishing the CEDC Tuesday night? Jan 20, IMHO

It is almost February, and I am sick of winter. Not the outside winter: the winter inside the hearts of some members of the Gray Town Council. Clark, IMHO Jan 27, 2006

You can learn a lot from books, and one of the things you learn is that you can't always trust what you hear or what you read. Clark, IMHO Feb 3, 2006

The news that a group of citizens wants to oust Andrew Upham from the Gray Town Council should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched the Council at work since it was elected in June. Clark, IMHO Feb 10, 2006

" Will recall bring Upham down? News Headline by Ray Clark Feb 17, 2006

This May's Town Meeting could be the last, if the Town votes to put the annual budget to referendum. (This is listed because it is untrue) March 2, 2006: Ray Clark

The Council turned off the television cameras and went home at 11:55 P.M., wiser, no doubt, about many issues. March 10: editorial comment inserted in a news report

It is too early to say what will happen to Mr. Upham in the forthcoming special election. But the betting is now that he'll be hung out to dry. March 24: IMHO

"...meetings were as instructive, entertaining and sometimes deliciously gossipy... March 31, describing his company's Board of Directors' meetings

Whatever their reasons, Council members should be ashamed of themselves. IMHO April 7

FinCom meeting illegal? Maybe not... then again... news headline, April 14

Is it just that they don't know how to plan a meeting, or is it something deeper and more calculated? April 21: IMHO Ray Clark

I don't often get mad, but I'm mad. IMHO Ray Clark April 28

But it was the worst of results for the Town of Gray. May 5 Ray Clark IMHO

As ex-State Representative Clifton Foster said, Town Meeting is "democracy in its purest form". That is what you will lose, if some members of this Council have their way. Wait a minute: maybe that's what some of the members of this Council want you to lose. IMHO May 12

Wow. Is there anyone angrier in the town of Gray?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

a new blog spoofs Debbie Mancini's blog

is a spoof. I got an comment about it just now. I checked it out, and I think it is funny. Nobody can say there isn't a lot of blog activity in Gray, Maine! Jeezaloo.

BTW: the new owners of The Monument have done nothing new except allow Elizabeth Prata to do what she does best: write. And the paper is getting pretty full of ads, aren't they, from the huge ad staff Current has, and the stories from Elizabeth sure are heartwarming. Thanks Elizabeth, keep up the positive work. Meanwhile, the Gray News...just keeps getting thinner, blacker...sadder. At some point we see the emperor has no clothes, and say, "OK you can die now."

Visit the new blog, see what you think. And Biasbuster will and always will remain...anonymous. Have fun guessing! [sigh] I am a credit to my sex.

Time takes its toll

When the Gray News started out, they were good. Full of ideas, energy, serving the citizens utmost in their minds and hearts... Well, like this:

Thirty-eight years later, under the ten-year helmsmanship of Ray Clark and the negative influence of Nathan Tsukroff, their news articles are riddled with editorial comments, their negativity is pervasive, their energy has dwindled so they rarely even attend a meeting, not to mention being absent from most community events, dwindling page counts and declining advertising, paper full of press releases, devoid of features anyone thought up and wrote with heart and verve, entire staff lacking initiative, drive, pep...well..they are more like this now:

Sad to see a once-vital and interesting paper lose it like this.

Er, how's that again, Nathan?

On October 21, 2005, Gray News minutes taker Nathan Tsukroff wrote:

A Town Manager serves at the pleasure of the Town Council in a relationship not unlike that of employer and employee.

Um, I hate to break it to Nathan, but the Manager is an employee. Exactly like. That's why the Manager has an employee contract. It's why the Council reviews his work performance each year. It's why the Council negotiates and sets his salary. It's why he can be fired with cause. What's it spell? e-m-p-l-o-y-e-e.

Perhaps Nathan should become more familiar with the workings of the town before he editorializes or reports upon them. It's always best to study up before you go to print, it results in accuracy and often, less bias. Or stick to taking minutes. That actually might be the best thing.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Snapshots of a negative newspaper

Snippets from The Gray News over the years.

The Gray News is the reflection of a Town.
Editor Ray Clark, 2001-03-23

Fix yourself a cup of what you like best and let your memory take you back to the days before The Monument paper came into being.
Gray Town Councilor Julie DeRoche 2006-02-24

While my intentions were noble-to bring problems to the attention of others-the method I used was very hurtful. I took away some of the innocence in our town, and stripped away that feeling of community.
Gray News minutes taker Nathan Tsukroff, 2005-08-05

The results should have served as a wakeup call for the sadistic Mr. Upham, but his monumental ego apparently prevents self-reflection, and his personal jihads continue.
Paul Proudian, 2006-06-30. Mr. Proudian also runs a Gray News hate blog

Has there been in the Town of Gray a more naked display of collusion in the face of inevitable defeat than Upham, Crane and Foster scuttling like crawfish away from a vote on abolishing the CEDC Tuesday night?
Editor Ray Clark, IMHO 2006-01-20

Next Tuesday will be slash-and-burn night, if at least some members of the Gray Town Council have their way.
Editor Ray Clark, 1-13-06, in a news article

I don't often get mad, but I'm mad. It is the worst kind of political claptrap, and the people who wrote it are no friends of the Town, its taxpayers or the patrons of the Library.
Editor Ray Clark, IMHO, 2006-04-28

Gray Matters: An Idiot's Guide to Pennell Institute What the rest of you (taxpayers) need to know.
Paul Proudian 7-29-05.

I can only conclude that these questions are too hard for the Council, and they skip them as a high school junior might skip a tough question on the SAT test.
Editor Ray Clark IMHO, 2006-04-07

This Council is always squawking about running the Town like a business…
Editor Ray Clark, 2006-01-20

Who needs Osama Bin Laden, we have each other?
Recall initiator Don Crandall, 4-7-06

It is too early to say what will happen to Mr. Upham in the forthcoming special election. But the betting is now that he'll be hung out to dry.
Editor Ray Clark, IMHO 2006-03-24

In my personal opinion, Ray, I think your paper has gone overboard in negative writing concerning people in Gray, including councilor Andy Upham.
Gray News Columnist Dumpster Bill, 2-17-06, in his published resignation letter

"The Gray News is the reflection of a Town"
Editor Ray Clark, 2001-03-23

It certainly is, Ray. It certainly is.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Leave people's voices alone

Before The Monument, when The Gray News was the only opportunity for people to express themselves in their local media on issues important to them, Editor Ray Clark used to snipe back at people who wrote letters. He would attach a reply after their letter, in the same issue, no less, and more often than not, his tone would be sarcastic, immature, and/or childish. Here is an example:


(The Editor, somewhat mystified himself, replies:...What about that sentence confuses [irritates] you, Mr. Monroe?... [I do pay attention, you see. Perhaps that's what irritates Mr. Monroe.] Mr. Monroe sees criticism where none was intended. But he has invented a very useful word:``confoundation''. That's precisely what your Editor feels when he reads Mr. Monroe's letter.)

A newspaper is an important vehicle for people to read about their local government, formulate their opinions about them, and if they so choose, to write back in the form of letters or commentaries. It's just plain wrong for the editor make caustic remarks back to the people who trusted that their opinions would be presented intact and unattacked. Moreover, it is journalistic abuse. And it demonstrates that the editor takes things way too seriously and emotionally, a bad state of affairs when the editor is supposed to be unbiased and unattached from the events.

Mr. Clark does not do this so much any more, but sometimes he still does. More often, he, or his reporter/minutes-taker Nathan Tsukroff, would just make these kind of remarks in the body of their articles.

Mostly, this entry points out two things: editorial abuse, and inability to emotionally disentangle himself from the events and opinions. That inability to disentangle demonstrates itself in his newswriting more and more frequently. This adds up to bias.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Here is a 100% biased piece

April 28, 2006, Ray Clark said:
Library plan laid before Council

"The Gray Public Library Association, fundraising arm for the Library, financed an architectural and structural study of the present Library building on Hancock Street. The study was performed by Port City Architecture, a firm with extensive experience in library work.

On Monday, the GPLA and representatives from Port City presented the company's findings to the Gray Town Council. The tab for the work necessary to prepare the Library basement for use comes to more than $500,000, and could be considerably more.

Andy Hyland, of Port City, cited code compliance as a major factor in the cost. For example, the entire building would have to be sprinklered, since State law requires public buildings of over 7,100 square feet to be sprinklered, and the addition of the basement would make the Library about 8,300 square feet.

Councilor Andy Upham had estimated that to do the work would cost about $160,000; he later revised that to $200,000. He and other Councilors had few questions for Port City or the GPLA, and will consider whether to proceed with the project."
Problems with this report:

1. Ray Clark did not declare his affiliation with the library- he is both a Library trustee and at the time of commissioning the Architects, a Library Association President. He likely even voted for commissioning the report. He is not only involved, is is making the news that he is reporting on. This is biased.

2. He never called the council for their point of view. Or anyone else. If a news story is to be unbiased, it should cover all points of view. Why didn't Mr. Clark call the Council Chair? Or the Council liaison to the library? Or the current GPLA president? Or the Library Director? Why were their voices not included in this article? To exclude them is biased. The only voice we read is Mr. Clark’s own.

3. Mr. Clark never revealed that the architects were NOT commissioned by the council. He wrote this as if it was a town-oriented item. He never said it was commissioned by an outside source not affiliated with the town and was never sanctioned by the town. This is an important fact to leave out.

This is a 100% biased report. The reporter is involved with the news event, excluded important players’ points of view, and never revealed salient facts to the story. BUSTED!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A lesson for the Gray News

No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.

--Helen Keller

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

and now for something completely different

An editorial by Biasbuster. It's all about perspective. My contention is the Gray News and the people associated with the Gray News have a dark, gloomy, and self-absorbed perspective. When that negative perspective becomes too insular, too constant, and too myopic, week after week, year after year in their paper, it hurts the town.

The recent commentary by Mr. Proudian on June 30 is a great example. I could make a very long piece about it, but instead I chose a few selected paragraphs to make my point. Mr. Proudian's reappointment to the cable committee was declined by three councilors. Now he is angry at the three councilors who voted no, and his commentary about it appeared in the Gray News last Friday.

On June 30, an opinion commentary by Paul Proudian said:

"The three self-appointed council alphas"

Gee, last year when Gary Foster was recognized as chair he was pronounced a brutal dictator. Now it's a triumverate. Negativity spreads like a cancer.

"in my opinion, been an unmitigated disaster-a period of lost opportunities, personal vendettas, double standards, petty favoritism, and profound administrative incompetence."

I have two words for Mr. Proudian: his blog. The above description fits his writings perfectly.

"In one short year they have made a mockery of small town life, and left ruin in their wake."

1. They ruined the town because they wouldn't sign Mr. Proudian up for a committeee appointment?

2. Blog, Mr. Proudian, blog, it did a good job of creating disharmony, negativity, and hate. Ruin, if you will.

3. Is the glass half full, or half empty? I don’t see a ruined town. I see hundreds of parents at the Little League trophy ceremony, the First Congo ladies selling cookies and breads for fellowship at the Gray marketplace, knots of happy people at the post office wishing each other a happy holiday, and gleeful kids swimming at the lake, which was recently improved by teens working with the YCC. A ruined town in Mr. Proudian’s eyes, a happy and productive town is in my eyes.

"Soviets exiled my grandfather and sent an uncle off to Siberia for thinking and acting in unapproved ways; so I am, in my own small fashion, carrying on the family tradition of paying a price for annoying paranoid tyrants."

Comparing Soviet exile on the steppes of Siberia with a declined appointment to a cable television committee... Nice to have delusions of grandeur.

I suggest that if Mr Proudian can in fact muster the enthusiasm he claims to be about to muster for his Independence Day celebration, that he hold it close and use it for something positive. It might improve his perspective.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Ray and Nathan signal editorial comments with parens

March 10, 2006, Ray Clark and Nathan Tsukroff wrote:

"Items decided by Town Council: Well... once the Subdivision Ordinance is reviewed and approved at a second Council vote, it will be effective retroactively. (In the meantime, developers are apparently free to build their houses without fire protection provisions in their new submissions, if they want.)"

I think it is mighty interesting that Nathan Tsukroff occasionally goes to the meeting but from those meetings, the resulting story has Ray Clark's name on it. In newsrooms, that is the equivalent of the bully beating up & stealing the 98 lb weakling's lunch money every week. For a short while, there appeared a double byline, like in this item. Using Mr Tsukroff's notes with Ray's byline means Nathan at those times is just a minutes-taker.

Ray Clark and Nathan Tsukroff are known for editorializing within their news articles. They use subjective qualifiers, they use strong, non-neutral language. They use "sneer quotes." But, if you get tired of thinking where does the news end and editorializing begin, sometimes Ray and Nathan will help you out. They will just insert their own opinions into parentheses. See above.