Bad Journalism + Biased Editor = The Gray News

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."
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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!

12 Comments:

  • WhenI see a skunk I expect to smell a stink.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:18 PM  

  • Wow...I don't see the same thing you do. In the first sentence the report clearly identifies the architectural study as being commissioned and funded by the private organization GPLA. There is no hint of Council involvement.
    I certainly experienced no confusion when I first read this way back in April.

    In this very public meeting, it seems that Council had plenty of opportunities to speak and comment for the record. Apparently they chose not to...which would have been a prudent response until they could study the report. So I see no failings of the reporter in not running after the Councilors for post-meeting comments. The story was about events during the meeting not what happened on the steps of Stinson Hall.

    Disclosure of Mr. Clark's affiliation with GPLA...technically he should have included that information as a footnote for the three migrant workers in Town who don't know that Mr. Clark is on the GPLA.

    There is no issue here...go after something with some substance.

    By Anonymous Cicero, at 8:00 PM  

  • A lot of what you've posted on this site is true. However, to be fair, Gary Foster makes it a point NOT to return Ray's phone calls. So you can't ding Ray for not calling him.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:09 PM  

  • Thank You for your clarification on this issue! It would be helpful to publicly publish your findings .. particularly for those people who do not view these blogs! The exposure of bias from Ray Clark {and Nathan Tsukroff} is vitally important; and needs to be revealed to the public!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:36 AM  

  • "to be fair, Gary Foster makes it a point NOT to return Ray's phone calls."

    If it is Gary's choice not to answer, that is his choice.

    However, the reporter should make an effort every time, and put that into the article, "phone calls were not returned..." or something like that. The reporter has to show that he or she made an attempt and did his diligence.

    Example: At The Monument, Ray Clark and Lynn Olson never answer Elizabeth's queries. That does not stop her from always giving them, or any other newsmaker, the opportunity to respond. If they choose not to respond, fine.

    But you have to give them the chance to make that decision themselves.

    By Blogger BiasBuster, at 10:11 AM  

  • Anonymous said: "In the first sentence the report clearly identifies the architectural study as being commissioned and funded by the private organization GPLA. There is no hint of Council involvement."

    It is a town building, it should be stated that an outside entity put this forth (stated clearly that he GPLA IS an outside entity) AND that it was NOT comissioned by the council.

    "it seems that Council had plenty of opportunities to speak and comment for the record. Apparently they chose not to...which would have been a prudent response until they could study the report. So I see no failings of the reporter in not running after the Councilors for post-meeting comments."

    it is always good for a reporter to get comments from the newsmakers. Always.

    "Disclosure of Mr. Clark's affiliation with GPLA...technically he should have included that information as a footnote for the three migrant workers in Town who don't know that Mr. Clark is on the GPLA."

    Making assumptions for the reader that they already know certain things about the issues is folly. It is the reporter's duty to be clear, state all the facts, and present them in unbiased fashion. This piece failed all those tests.

    I find that substantive. What would you find substantive?

    By Blogger BiasBuster, at 10:30 AM  

  • To BiasBuster

    Your retort is obtuse. All the reporter had to disclose was who commissioned the study, rather than who didn't commission the study. While Clark was at it, should he have disclosed that the study was also NOT commissioned by the Maine Legislature, the Marine Corps Band, nor Mr. Goodwrench? Com'on this is crossing the boundaries of the absurd.

    No, good reporters should'nt always chase after an individual for a post-action response. That is one of the reasons why we hate reporters. Can you imagine Clark running up to Andy and asking him for his reaction to this setback?
    Don't you think that would have been hideously rude and be perceived as sophmoric gloating? IN a weird way, Clark was actually respectful of the Councilors in not needling them for a response, nor rubbing their collective faces in this momentary embarrassment.

    Is it a substantive matter that Ray Clark is on the GPLA, but the ommission as to his status in this one article is minor. Look at the context... in the year-long debate, both Ray Clark and Elizabeth have proclaimed Clarks GPLA association from the rooftops. I am confident that this article had no chance of going out over the AP wires. I don't assume, I know that just about everybody in Gray who can read knows that Clark and the GLPA are one. Its a non-issue.

    Look at this! Your predilection for minutia at the expense of intellectual honesty has actually pushed me into a position of defending Ray Clark!
    What's next.. are you going to drive me into becoming an apologist for Chris Matthews?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:30 AM  

  • “Your retort is obtuse.”

    I should like you to debate without resorting to name-calling, please.

    “All the reporter had to disclose was who commissioned the study, rather than who didn't commission the study. While Clark was at it, should he have disclosed that the study was also NOT commissioned by the Maine Legislature, the Marine Corps Band, nor Mr. Goodwrench? Com'on this is crossing the boundaries of the absurd.”

    It is a town owned building under the custodial care of the council. Mr. Goodwrench has nothing to do with it.

    “No, good reporters shouldn’t always chase after an individual for a post-action response. That is one of the reasons why we hate reporters. Can you imagine Clark running up to Andy and asking him for his reaction to this setback? Don't you think that would have been hideously rude and be perceived as sophmoric gloating? IN a weird way, Clark was actually respectful of the Councilors in not needling them for a response, nor rubbing their collective faces in this momentary embarrassment. “

    It matters not how the questions are perceived. It is the reporter’s job to ask follow up questions. It is the reporter’s job to get the facts from the newsmakers. I am sorry that you think Mr. Clark would be afraid to do so without someone thinking he is gloating. That’s a shame. Nonetheless, it is the reporter’s job to ask questions in all climates, not just the ones that are comfortable for the reporter nor just the climates that are comfortable for the newsmakers.

    ”Is it a substantive matter that Ray Clark is on the GPLA, but the ommission as to his status in this one article is minor. Look at the context... in the year-long debate, both Ray Clark and Elizabeth have proclaimed Clarks GPLA association from the rooftops. I am confident that this article had no chance of going out over the AP wires. I don't assume, I know that just about everybody in Gray who can read knows that Clark and the GLPA are one. Its a non-issue.”

    The newspaper’s job is to inform. Not assume that someone who might have read an article a year ago would remember Clark is on the GPLA. If it is a substantive matter, then it’s a substantive matter- every time. Inform, don’t assume. Inform, don’t assume.

    As a matter of fact, the article may indeed have gone out over the AP wires, or something like it. Articles from Gray News AND The Monument get picked up on many wires. Some as far away as New Zealand. Ahem, don’t assume.

    ”Look at this! Your predilection for minutia at the expense of intellectual honesty has actually pushed me into a position of defending Ray Clark!
    What's next.. are you going to drive me into becoming an apologist for Chris Matthews?”

    You are responsible for your own actions. I cannot “drive” you to do anything not of your own choosing.

    By Blogger BiasBuster, at 1:59 PM  

  • To BiasBuster:

    G A S P

    Being the wordsmith and the keen journalistic critic you are, you should recognize that I called your retort obtuse, not you.

    I am disappointed that rather than arguing the point, you resorted to such a hackneyed defensive tactic.

    My observation stands, and in fact is now reinforced.

    I can return to my original argument exploring the role of context in good reporting and why the superior journalists know when to keep their powder dry (HINT: Helen Thomas is NOT a good role model to emulate)...but it is a futile effort. The more I read your blog, the more I realize that you are summarily guilty of committing that cardinal sin against the code of journalism that you revere so dearly:

    You have lost all objectivity... in fact and it appears that you never had any intention of practicing it. Therefore, by the tenets of your own beloved code: lose your journalistic objectivity, you lose your journalistic crediability and you surrender the moral and ethical ground to cast stones at the Gray News or others.

    Too bad, this blog had such potential.

    Regarding the concluding comment from my last transmission: Word of the day is "satire". The concluding comment was "satirical".
    For additional and much better examples, read Oscar Wilde, William Buckley, or P.J. O'Rouke.

    By Anonymous Cicero, at 4:59 PM  

  • Cool ! A high-falutin' retort!

    PS: I LOVE Helen Thomas!

    By Blogger BiasBuster, at 5:01 PM  

  • To Biasbuster:

    "High-falutin' retort" (?)

    What repartee!
    A bit out of our regional context, but brilliant!
    We all know you LOVE Helen Thomas.

    By Anonymous Cicero, at 7:32 AM  

  • Knowing what we know about Ray Clark and his 'sidekick' Nathan Tsukroff, how could you blame anybody for not wanting to talk to them??

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:44 AM  

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