Bad Journalism + Biased Editor = The Gray News

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Is the Gray News on a diet?

Newspapers can be categorized as 'tabloids' or 'broadsheets.' Tabs are the size of The Monument, Forecaster, The Notes, The Phoenix, the Gray News. Broadsheets are the bigger, wider papers, like American Journal, Bangor Daily. Tabs go up in page count in 4s. A tab can be 16 pages, or 20, 24.

The page count is determined by how many ads a paper has that week, as balanced by their expenses. It costs more to print 24 pages than it does to print 12. If a paper is bringing in $4,000 that week, it can support 16 or 20 pages or more, depending on overhead. Then, the news is filled in around it. A good graphics designer will be able to meld the two and design the pages to capacity with the articles that need to be in and the ads that need to be in. Voila, the paper is filled up.

In the industry, an 8-page paper for a weekly is looked upon as below the radar. It needs to be at least 12 to really come across as a real paper, and not an insert or a newsletter. This week the Gray News was 8 pages, with a lot of "white space". White space is the space between where the article ends and the next one begins. Usually, the Gray News people will stick in some clip art to fool the eye into thinking the paper is filled up, rather than the reality that 3 inches of space was devoid of meaningful content.

Another trick newspaper designers use to fill an otherwise empty paper is to increase the font slightly and to increase the leading and kerning: that's the space between letters and between one line above another. Tweaking those can also help fill a paper that is otherwise devoid of news or ads. The Gray News has been tweaking fonts and kerning, sticking in clip art, and using oversized photos for a while now and managed to hand onto their 12 page count.

Not this week.

They fell below the industry-standard radar to an 8-page paper, and even at that, there was a lot of white space. Many of the "ads" were really freebies. My estimation of the real page count in this week's Gray News was really 6 pages. A tweaked and white-space paper is the first sign...8 pages is the next sign. There are few ads, no news, and 8 pages of white space. Are there really NO businesses in all of the town that want to take out an ad? Did NO news at all occur all whole week? No, of course not. The Gray News is not doing well.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Paul Proudian made a mistake

On August 25, Paul Proudian wrote about the recent Council vote to change the zoning ordinance.

Mr. Proudian wrote, "The Three view the Planning Board as petty bureaucrats who want to over-regulate real estate developers. They recently took away the Board’s ability to impose fire protection standards on housing developments."

That is not completely true. The vote of Council on April 18, 2006, was FOUR to zero. (Minutes) It was unanimous, and it included Councilor John Welch.

Mr. Proudian failed to mention this. As a matter of fact, Councilor Welch stated the following: "Councilor Welch said he feels the town needs to have something formally written in the ordinance and does not support the memos that are submitted from the Chief to the Board. Councilor Welch cited comments made by board members that they would in fact exercise their authority to deny applicants subdivision approval. Developers could possibly sue the town over the denials resulting in legal costs to the town."

So when Mr. Proudian writes, "But thanks in part to the vindictiveness of three axe-grinding demagogues" what he really means is that Mr. John Welch is also a petty bureaucratic, vindictive, axe-grinding demagogue.

Can't argue with the facts.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Biasbuster's take on the Proudian cable rant

Some words have been changed to protect the honest. Read the original to get the flavor of the spoof.

Cable Committee is not a private corporation

When they’re not harassing people they don’t like from town councils, problem-makers Proudian, Tsukroff, and Clark like to satisfy their authoritarian instincts by dictating what you read in print media. The trio are the principal movers behind an effort to show more of them on their newspaper and their blogs.

The Three view the council as intrusive and over-scrutinizing. The Council recently moved to take away the Cable Committee’s ability to sign purchase orders so they can willfully spend money without oversight. Local taxpayers are pleased. The Committee is not. Call it part of this problem-maker trio’s aggressive new No Mud Left Unslung Act.

Let me just say that if it was up to me, GCTV would spend every dollar in Gray. We’d buy for all the guys at the breakfast counter at Cole Farms if we could, given how much fun was made of us there in the last year. The problem is that there aren’t enough people to do it all. With three regular members and two part-time students, the cable committee is severely shorthanded, and we have been saying this for ten years, even when we had 8 people on the committee. It’s our motto. “We’re chronically short-handed, no matter how many people help us.” This shortage was recently made worse, when three councilors intelligently decided not to renew Proudian’s membership. First time such a thing ever happened, and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

In any case there is no policy governing which town committee gets a higher budget than others, but it helps to have a direct pipeline to wealthy Time Warner’s franchise fees. We want it all and we want the old council back, who never bugged us. You know that “All programming will be of community interest as determined by the Cable Committee.” So you have us to thank for the endless hours of boring and uncreative and repetitive programming.

In Gray, regular council meetings have always been carried on cable. Public interest prompted the addition of council workshops to the broadcast schedule last fall, after citizen insistence due to the egregious abuses under the previous council went unbroadcast by us (no mean feat).

For myself, I think it’s much more important to scrutinize other committees. In a perfect world, everybody would be scrutinized, of course. But thanks in part to the diligence of three axe-grinding problem-makers, the citizens of Gray are good and sick and tired of their whining. Buy earplugs. While you still can.

-Paul Proudian-esque (Proudian-Clark-Tsukroff, town problem-makers.)

Ray Clark is good at twisting words

On August 25, Ray Clark wrote:

"The Council will be forced to make a hurried decision on whether to send the change to the voters in November, as some members wish, because of the timing requirements of absentee ballot availability."

This is a very good job of two things: twisting and editorializing. Mr. Clark alluded to three facts but failed to be specific: 'who is forcing'? 'some members, well, which members?' 'What are the timing requirements?' By alluding to facts but then pulling back and not stating them, it's editorializing, not news presentation. Also, the statement maligns, not informs. Maligning sneers have no place in a news article.

Here is the twisting part: Mr. Clark made it sound as if the council was doing something wrong or illegal, when in fact they are complying with the law. The law states that charter hearings and proposals have to be completed within a certain time frame prior to its vote.

Mr. Clark's statement is also factually incorrect. The council is not making a hurried decision. They have been discussing this for about 7 months. They put it on their agenda's 'bring up' list with a date of August, said they would get into the nuts and bolts of the issue then. When August came, they did, discussion occurred for four hours earlier this month at a workshop. The hearing was set for September.

Development of an issue over 7 months is not hurried. Mr. Clark should not twist the fact to cast shadows on the council's doings, and if he mentions facts, he should mention ALL the facts and be specific. Anything less is just rumor, fiction, and slimy innuendo.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Comments about Paul's non-sensical rant

Paul Proudian wrote a commentary in this week's Gray News. Here is Biasbuster's reaction, some is my opinion and some is fact. Just because a person uses opinion space in a paper does not give them the right to misstate the truth. Facts are facts and must not be twisted, even in an opinion editorial. The Newspaper should have seen to that prior to publication.

Let me just say that if it was up to me, GCTV would broadcast every committee meeting in Gray.

But it's not up to you.

I’d televise the breakfast counter at Cole Farms if I could, given how much public business has been conducted there in the last year.

Imagine, public people discussing public public. Will wonders never cease.

The problem is that there aren’t enough people to do it all. With three regular members and two part-time students, the cable committee is severely shorthanded.

The committee is paid, has more people on it than the New Gloucester Committee, but, oddly, broadcasts fewer meetings.

This shortage was recently made worse, when these same three councilors decided not to renew my own GCTV membership. First time such a thing ever happened. They didn’t say why. I think I’m being punished.

You are.

In any case there is no policy governing which town committee gets air time on GCTV.

Yes, there is. It's the Council Rules.

The GCTV policy manual states that “All programming will be of community interest as determined by the Cable Committee.”

GCTV can make all the policies it wants, they still do not trump Council Rules.

Public interest prompted the addition of council workshops to the broadcast schedule last fall, after councilors began holding workshops in record numbers and re-designated some as regular decision-making meetings.

Wrong. The record number of workshops came after Pam Wilkinson-Councilor, and Mitchell Berkowitz, over regulatory Manager, came on board, and they started deciding things at workshops 4 years ago. Where have you been?

but especially one that is as secretive and divisive as this one.

Does this make sense to anybody? 'watch them on publicly televised video to see how secret they are?'

If you don’t believe that’s true, just check out the video. While you still can.

Is that a threat?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ray Clark's report is an "F"

On August 18 Ray Clark wrote about the council's decision to hold a public hearing. The hearing would be to get input regarding a charter change, which is to allow voting on town budget at referendum instead of town meeting. Ray Clark's report was unsatisfactory in every way. Here's why. But first, Mr. Clark's report:

"The Gray Town Council has set a public hearing for September 5 on its plan to alter fundamentally the way the Town adopts its budget. The issue would go before the Town at the November ballot."

"As proposed, a Town Meeting in May would determine which budget articles would be placed on a ballot for referendum voting in June. Voters would have 20 or more individual line items to vote on; if one or more failed, a new Town Meeting would be called to offer revised budget items to the voters in another referendum. Meanwhile, the previous year's budget numbers would be in effect, allowing essential Town services to continue."

"The Council, at its meeting Tuesday night, emphasized that this plan could change as a result of the public hearing, details of which will be made public next week. Council Chair Gary Foster said that the Town Attorney, William Dale, had suggested that the change was not substantial enough to require a Charter Commission."

"Voting on the budget by referendum, according to its proponents, would allow more citizens to participate in the budget process."

First, the discussion lasted a while. Councilors and citizens spoke. For citizens at home who do not watch the TV or do not attend the meeting, reading the news report is one of the only ways to become informed. Who said what? Were all councilors in favor of it? Against it? What were their reasons for being for or against? Mr. Clark's bare bones presentation does not tell the reader the background of, impetus for, or result of the discussion.

Next, Were there citizens there? What did they say? Were all citizens who spoke for it, or against it? We don't know, and if you finish reading a news article not knowing more than when you started, the report has failed.

Next, was there an action? Did the council have to vote on whether to have a public hearing? Was the vote unanimous? Split? Again, failure to inform reduces this article to the unsatisfactory category.

Next, Mr. Clark alluded to a suggestion that Attorney Bill Dale made regarding the proposed charter change. In fact, it was a written opinion, and a reporter doing diligence would have had the creativity, energy, or wherewithal to obtain the opinion and quote it. A reporter should always cite a source and the existence of source documentation should be used at all times to support a contention, especially one written as weakly as Mr. Clark wrote: full of second-hand hearsay and 'suggestions.'

Next, Mr. Clark mentioned "proponents." Who are they? What do they propose? Mr. Clark states that there are proponents, but doesn't say who they are or why they are for it. So how does he know how they feel? Or what they said? Or even that there are any? A blanket statement without sourcing, names, or quotes, means we can assume that it isn't true. Mr. Clark's statement about proponents can and should be disregarded out of hand.

Last, if a reporter mentions proponents, one must also give the opposing view a chance to air their reasons. Who are the opponents? What do they feel, think, say? Mentioning proponents without balance to the other view is biased.

Mr. Clark did not attend the meeting, and without grounded facts, quotes, and source documentation, his reporting falls to the level of fiction, not fact. Fiction in a news report equals failure. I give this piece an "F"

Biasbuster opinion editorial

Here is an opinion from Biasbuster:

The Gray News is irrelevant and no one reads it anymore.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ray Clark is making basic mistakes now

On August 18, Ray Clark of The Gray News wrote: "At the same Council meeting, Town Manager Deb Cabanna announced that Tracie Lammers has been appointed Director of the Gray Public Library."

The Town Manager spells her name: 'Cabana.' Mr. Clark also misspelled the previous Manager, Mr. Berkowitz's, name when he first arrived, too, writing "Mitchell Berkowicz" (Gray News, Apr 20, 2001.)

On August 18, Ray Clark of the Gray News wrote: "How motorists are expected to get into or out of the Dunkin' Donuts without making some sort of illegal driving maneuver was not explained."

You go right into and out of Dunkin Donuts. This was just a plain weird statement from Ray Clark. It is nonsensical and does not inform.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Gray News is passive transmitter

They are ignoring or suppressing important stories, they are out of touch with ordinary people's concerns, or they are passive transmitters of official utterances.

---Mark Knights, University of East Anglia, on today's journalism. I thought it fit the Gray News quite well.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Gray News is full of cheesy clip art

Newspapers are supposed to inform. They do this through words- the articles and captions, they do this through photographs and other visuals, like illustration and cartoons. Everything in the paper is supposed to perform a function, wasting space is not a good design option.

A carefully balanced and good looking paper will attract the reader without the reader knowing why. The design is not supposed to be so good that you notice it instead of the news, and the design is not supposed to be so bad that it's all you notice and it's repellent. The Gray News falls in the latter category.

One of the reasons the Gray News looks (and is) outdated, is that they are sadly committed to using clip art. Clip art is the cludgy, cheesy looking baskets of flowers or turkeys at Thanksgiving you see in their masthead. To put together the paper, they print it out, cut it into strips, which they lay on the layout sheets (in itself, outdated. Everyone's electronic now). Then when they reach the bottom of the page, they actually cut the strip and lay it atop the next column. Where they end, if there's white space, that's where they stick clip art. Left, look for this kind of clip art in upcoming issues.

Anne Van Wagener is Design Editor / Adjunct Faculty at the Poynter Institute, an education organization for new and working journalists. Here's her take on clip art:

"The use of the word 'art' in clip art is far too prestigious a word to explain these lowly images. Let's just say I'm not a big fan of clip art. Especially when it comes to news design because more often than not someone is just sticking it on a page to pretty it up or to fill space. And I'd rather have no image than a bad one. The majority of clip art out there looks dated, and cheesy. It's clip art, and it's as ugly as homemade sin. Visuals project the quality, sophistication, and personality of a publication or website, and they are the first thing that attracts the reader's eye."

When the Gray News comes out Friday, look for the cheesy clip art, it makes the paper look cludgy and uninteresting. Look for the ads that have strands of black around them- that's where they have laminated it and used it over and over again, sticking it on the waxed layout pages every week. To fill white space at Thanksgiving time, why, it's turkeys, of course!.

A newspaper should use all its space to advantage to inform- not to repel the reader with cludgy turkeys and valentine hearts like a fourth grade art poster project. A heightened bar of design would make the paper more readable. Those turkeys are a perfect emblem for the Gray News approach to presenting the contents of their newsletter.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Pat Mundy upset with Ray Clark: more of her letter

More of Pat Mundy’s letter. In this excerpt, she is taking issue with another thing Ray Clark does: use peoples’ names in the paper, but he never ever calls them to get their side. When Ray Clark uses people’s names, sometimes it’s to make fun of them, or sometimes it’s to try and ride their coattails toward higher credibility. It is the latter that Mrs. Mundy caught Ray Clark doing, and called him out on it.

She says that Ray Clark “proceeds to carry on for a whole page of insults and innuendoes and untruths which were obviously designed by him to raise the emotions of readers by his “poor me” story. My name was mentioned many times. Not once has Ray Clark ever asked me a question about the past history of The Gray News or my part in it-not about the circumstance, not about anything! Yet he rambles on and on reciting my actions as though he heard it from me, or reported that I “was quoted as saying,” without even asking me if the quote was correct...”

“... I was very disturbed when I read his article. But, I thought he’d let out his frustration and get on with the purpose of the Gray News. I was wrong, again. The next week, there’s my name again! Still no conversation with me. I had to call a Director to explain that I am a private citizen, that I have not spoken in public nor written a public letter for years, and that I couldn’t tell if Ray Clark was trying to destroy my credibility or to build his own up by trying to attach to mine, but please ask him to stop.”

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Gray News-letter

The August 11 issue of The Gray News had four 'top stories.' They were:

Child Find
Good Shepherd United Methodist Church
Milfoil HELP!
St Gregory

Child Find was a press release about an organization's program, the others are church bulletins, and the Milfoil help was press release about another organization's efforts.

There was nothing originally written in the paper. Granted, it's high summer, schools are closed, and meetings have let up. There's not a lot going on...but there's always something going on- and it is the newspaper's job to find it. It takes energy, creativity, and aptitude, something the Gray Newsletter doesn't display.

That Friday, the Press Herald had a story about the YMCA closing and a nice feature about the an archeological dig. The Monument had big news about Fiddlehead and a nice feature about locals in the Beach To Beacon, a news article about New Gloucester and another about the missing police dog.

A paper becomes a vanity press when the publishers (in this case the Board of Directors and Editor) expect people to be satisfied with releases passed off as news.

The Gray News, in order to become a real paper again, needs to put news in it. Otherwise, it's just a newsletter for local organizations. And newsletter isn't a news paper, it's a vanity press.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Gray News, your little mistakes add up

The following were taken from the Gray News's online version. There is always a photo at top accompanied by a caption. It gives the first impression of the paper. This week's captions read:

The whole team, from left, Debbie Shaw Mancini, Hen Hrald, Amanda Mancini and Lewis Mancini.

"Hen Hrald" how unfortunate.

Jane Barton works with Donna Hill to prepare pies for the department's chicken bargecue fundraiser last Saturday. The pies were baked by the Pennel Almuni.

That's "barbecue," "Pennell", and "Alumni". Three mistakes in 25 words? That's a pretty low accuracy rate.

The Gray Community Endowment sponsored this marker honoring the gift of Richard and Nancy Libby and Wilbert and Sharon Libby of 45 acres of land on Libby Hill.

See the marker? It says the man's name is Wilbert Libbey, with an 'e'. The caption was millimeters away from the photo with the correct spelling...yet the Gray News still got it wrong.

When there are so many mistakes it leads the reader to the conclusion that the business is careless with the news, careless with people, and careless with facts. It reduces credibility. Who wants to read a paper riddled with mistakes? Papers sell credibility and that credibility comes from being correct. Unfortunately, the Gray New isn't correct, and spelling counts.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Maybe I'll post the rest tomorrow

The rest of Pat Mundy's letter to Ray...the whole middle part I didn't put in today. Seems to be getting such a reaction, with rejected commenter Anonymous attacking the veracity of its authorship. It is a shame when presented with real documents and verbatim exchanges, the only thing left for some people to do is attack, rather than re-think. I was hoping the documentary factual approach would allow some people, the people who need it most, actually, to reflect on the issues and perhaps improve their standards. Maybe there is more work here to do than I thought...

Gray News decline disappoints its first editor

Excerpts of a letter written by Pat Mundy, one of the first editors of The Gray News, and her opinion of what the Gray News has become.

There was a time when I proudly served on the Board of Directors of The Gray News. That time waned when the Gray News stopped its policy of gathering the news itself, which allowed it not to be tainted by political motives, and adopted the policy of printing only what someone submits. It waned again when the policy went from printing what someone submits, to printing what certain people submit. It stopped when The Gray News went from trying to report the news to reporting personal attacks on people who spoke in public and with whom the Gray News did not agree. It is these policies, which have led to hateful, hurtful, divisive, immature, deceitful, accusations, which it never seems to run out of. It allows, and encourages, citizens to be treated unfairly, and that pierces my tolerance level.

And I have some insight about what I call the "love in" letters. If you, the average reader or the newer reader are wondering why the letters to the Gray News are all in favor of the Gray News, it's for 1 of 2 reasons: Opposing letters frequently do not get printed; or opposing letters are degraded by an editor with sarcastic, usually erroneous comments in his abuse of his "don't forget, I have the last word," philosophy, so the letters don't even get submitted anymore. ... Even worse, there is no room for opposing views without sarcasm in The Gray News. This is hit home very soundly, in the new column called Gray Matters, where they invite personal viewpoints by Gray write a piece...which they offer in print, depending on space and our whim. And the Gray News reserves the right to edit, of course, end of quote.

The Monument, and rightly so, will not engage in public warfare of one business against another. And that is what it has become, one business who constantly attacks another to get readers to 'take sides' and a second business who refuses to volley back, but instead sticks to its originating purpose and reports our government's news to us in objective manner.

Pat Mundy

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Are Ray Clark's pants on fire?

The Monument Newspaper wrote an article about the Gray Public Library association, when Ray Clark was President. Ray Clark was asked about the bond the organization had planned to present. This was significant because the Mr. Clark had made public statements that their plan for the new library would 'not cost the taxpayers a cent.' The reporter found documents that proved otherwise.

When asked about the three quarters of a million dollar bond, Mr. Clark denied it existed and called it a rumor. Fortunately, the reporter had source documentation that proved otherwise. The source documentation was a filing with the IRS to claim non-profit status. When reminded about the documents, Mr Clark said he "forgot all about it."

Exchange is below.

reporter: Can you explain more about the $660,000 bond that the GPLA is proposing for 2007?

Clark: So far as I know, this is fiction. There is no bond issue. Please tell me where you heard this rumor.

Reporter: I read The GPLA's Exhibit 2 of the your IRS Financial data, form 1023, Part IX. In it, under the year 2007 for "income", is listed "Local Bond issue" for the specific amount of $660,000. Again, would you be so kind as to provide a bit more information about this information that is in your IRS packet?

Clark: I forgot all about that.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Mr. Clark thinks his lying 'doesn't matter'

On May 7, 1999 Ray Clark wrote:

“A year and a half ago, this newspaper-ahead of its time, as always-called for a Charter Review. Nobody paid any attention. Suddenly, the issue has popped up again. What has happened in the meantime to cause this fervor for studying the Town Charter?”

At that time, there was a charter petition committee gathering signatures to ask the voters if they wanted to establish a charter commission. A Charter commission would review the charter and look at making changes to the governing document of Gray. Mr. Clark was against the citizens who were initiating this.

Elizabeth Prata (Salvetti at the time) sent Mr. Clark an e-mail: “In your editorial of May 7, 1999, you stated that you called for a charter review a year and a half prior…I’ve looked in every Gray News for the last 3 years and can’t find it….Do you have a copy of this Gray News issue in which you called for a charter review? Or do you have a copy of the article or editorial itself?”

Mr. Clark replied: “Can’t find it either. Maybe I dreamed it. Does it somehow make a difference?”

What has happened here is that Mr. Clark lied, used the lie to malign active citizens and cast aspersions on their motives, and then said lying makes no difference.

Newspapers are in the business of printing truth. Lying, using the paper for personal reasons – in this case to promote a personal agenda- and saying that lying doesn’t matter fails every ethical tenet in journalism, every good business practice, and all moral codes.

Answer to Mr. Clark: YES, Lying makes a difference.

Tomorrow, another proof of Mr. Clark lying. So you can it's not a fluke.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Editorials, not hate screeds

Ray Clark writes editorials. Those are columns where it is the one place an editorial opinion is allowed to be stated. Editorials are supposed to persuade, or convince, or synthesize for the reader the facts on a particular issue.

Ray Clark cannot do that. He either writes about inane subjects like the LL Bean catalog or mowing the lawn, or he writes furious stream of consciouness harangues that don't push the issue forward nor illuminate a point for the reader. Editors are supposed to use words to lead. Not screed. Worse, he cannot write in his fury without name-calling.

On August 4, 2006, Mr. Clark wrote that the three councilors with whom he does not agree are "mosquitos." He then went on to denigrate the Cumberland County dispatch operators to the point he insinuated their professional inadequacies would result in a caller's death.

Name calling might make him feel good, but it is a turn-off. It certainly does not persuade. Mr. Clark abuses his position to make hate harangues and call people names, without regard for the purpose of an editorial: mature persuasion based on facts.

This quote is for Mr. Clark: "A person full of hate is his own worst enemy. Freedom of speech exposes his hate for all to see."

David Moats, Editorial page editor, Herald, Rutland VT

SCREED: a long monotonous harangue

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Biasbuster busts Nathan

Nathan wrote on his blog:

I notice I haven't heard directly from my detractors. It's easy to hide behind a wall and shout nasty names. But it takes great moral character to stand up and publicly announce your beliefs.

That’s because Nathan lied when he said that their e-mail address will not be published. He sandbagged a commenter and no one has been so foolish as to deal with Nathan since.

While I am diametrically opposed to the positions taken by Elizabeth Prata, I believe her actions have fomented the continued devisiveness and nastiness in Gray.

What “positions"? Please state her 'positions.'

The only public positions she takes is for the citizens, for good government, and for ethical journalism. It’s not news that Nathan is opposed to that.

Nathan should produce examples of this divisiveness-fomenting. Meanwhile here areother examples from Nathan: Nathan and Paul’s recall fomented the negativity. Nathan and Paul's hate mail to Upham supporters fomented negativity. Nathan lying in the Gray News fomented the nastiness (Upham opposes) His hate blog fomented the nastiness ( His lying statements in his editorials and blogspot fomented the nastiness (“Prata and Foster in inappropriate relationship” “Prata may be a drug user” etc.) fomented plenty of nastiness and disgust.

And by the way, it’s divisiveness.

Ray Clark misstated a factual situation

Ray Clark of The Gray News wrote on August 4, 2006:

“The project could become the first test of the Council’s firmly stated policy that developers cannot be required to provide cisterns, sprinklers, or other fire suppression devices.”

This statement is false. There is no 'firmly stated policy' (besides, is there such a thing as a 'weakly stated policy?') The Gray Town Council amended its subdivision ordinance through a legal vote that stated explicitly that fire suppression is optional. (see legal notice below). The council did not make a “policy.” The Council instead legally amended a town-wide ordinance. Ordinances are akin to a law.

Ray Clark wrote:“The Planning Board, on the other hand, holds that it has a duty to look out for the public safety, and may elect to defy the council.”

This is also false. The Planning Board’s duty is as follows:

"The Planning Board is an administrative board which has the responsibility of reviewing all site plan and subdivision applications for conformance to all local land use regulations, as well as for conformance to State and Federal rules that may apply.” Their charge is “To review and pass upon applications for subdivisions and site plan approval submitted pursuant to the applicable Ordinances of the Town.”

Their role is not to defy the council. Their role is not to set aside legal ordinances. Ray Clark was biased in his reporting when he suggested otherwise.

Town of Gray Notice

Subdivision Fire Suppression Systems are optional
Effective March 7, 2006, the Gray Town Council enacted Order #77, a subdivision ordinance amendment whereby home sprinkler systems and fire cistern tanks are clearly not required for subdivision approval through the Planning Board application and approval process. Provision and installation of these devices or systems is specifically at the full discretion of the applicant. No member of the Gray Planning Board can deny an application because the applicant does not install home sprinklers or fire cisterns. Any reference to the contrary should be brought to the immediate attention of the Gray Town Council.

Gray news not local

Gray has one local newspaper, The Monument. Why? It is the only paper that covers the entire SAD. It is the only paper that actually goes to meetings. It is the only paper that goes out and talks to people. It is the only paper that gets news first. It is the only paper that wins awards. It is the only paper that has real journalists, not junk mail writers, itinerant photographers, and rabid Dems. It is the only paper that has earned the respect of current officials. It is the only paper that cares about you.

Where is the Gray News? NEW GLOUCESTER. When the Gray News claims local? Don't believe it.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Totally underwhelmed

Well, it's Friday and another limp edition of The Gray News is out. They never fail to underwhelm me.

I'll think about what to focus on and put up another bias busting entry later.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Is it an accurate reflection? No.

From the Portland Press Herald, 2000:

"Clark, editor of the Gray News, fills the paper with stories about the good-hearted nature of townspeople, stories like "Local Serviceman Home for Holidays" and "Blood Drive Honors Gerald Kimball." 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..."

That is a backward philosophy from what newspapers consider their charge: to reflect the community. Quotes follow:

“Community newspapers, particularly those which reach an interested and involved audience, are in a position to not only reflect the culture of the day, but to ensure its continuity.” William E. Brown, Jr. (Richter Library, University of Miami)

Rockford Register Star:
Reflect our community in everything we do.

Observer at Univ Notre Dame
we at The Observer should attempt to reflect the entire community.

Crime, unseemly behavior, and other news that reflects the community should be in the paper. It is not up to the paper to censor news to protect people. In order to have a fully informed citizenry, they need to be informed.

Therefore, the Gray News’s motto should be:

"We don’t make the news, we make it better."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Gray News is a rich man’s toy

The Gray News is an April Fool joke, literally

In the past newspapers have often been owned by so-called media barons, and were used either as a rich man's toy, or a political tool, says Wikipedia.
Media proprietors are frequently accused of using their positions to further political agendas, and some of them have in fact done so.

For years, the Gray News enjoyed dedicating all or part of its paper on April first to an “April Fool” issue. The editor would create spoofs of local events and personalities, and litter the paper with these fictional yarns.

Aside from the fact that his parodies were not funny, clever, or inspired, to abuse the community’s newspaper for your own amusement reinforces the fundamental problem with the Gray News: they do not believe they serve the public. They use the paper to serve themselves.

A newspaper can be fun: it can create a witty headline, cover a fun story, write a clever editorial. A newspaper can have an entertainment section with reviews, puzzles, or horoscopes and advice columns. Writing ego-driven spoofs and turning the entire paper into a toy for your amusement fails the community by failing in its two primary charges: To serve. To inform.

If we want the funnies, wel get a comic book. When we want the news, we get a newspaper. The Gray News should remember which is which.