Bad Journalism + Biased Editor = The Gray News

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Best. Editorial. Ever.

Paul Proudian's hate blog had a little ditty back on New Year's Eve 2005/2006 regarding an acid editorial Ray Clark did against the council. One of many acid editorials Ray has punishes his readers with, ending last week with his worst ever. That was IT for Gray citizen Cal Cutter, who finally wrote tot eh paper listing his own concerns. Biasbuster has a long memory, and is enjoying with glee now that the tables are turned. Original Proudian ditty here. Note the date, Happy 2007! What a difference a year makes!

The people will get the last word... a time to speak out
Calvin Cutter

This essay is about something particularly insidious. Your unleashed columnist Ray Clark has written tirades in your last two issues and I must object to his tone and content. I was very pleased when I learned that The Windham Independent acquired ownership of The Gray News for I believed that a new editor and publisher would redirect the goals and style of The Gray News to model after The Windham Independent. But now I wonder.

The first time I met Ray Clark was about 9 years ago when I, and the late Pat Mundy, paid him a visit at the old Pennell Lab building owned by SAD 15. Pat was a former editor and publisher of The Gray News and she and I wanted to know why Clark's reports avoided certain elements of a then current issue relating to SAD 15. We did not know at that time that The Gray News was getting free rent from SAD 15, a circumstance that changed rapidly after it was brought to the attention of the school board of directors. During the meeting it became apparent that Clark didn't like to be questioned; his expression and tone turned to rage and he abruptly ended the meeting. Outside as I was headed to my vehicle Clark approached me and warned me to watch out because he gets the last word. Since that episode I have considered Ray Clark a man dangerous to the well being of the Gray community.

During Clark's 10 year tenure as editor of The Gray News the reporting became laden with biased and unfounded stories. He routinely reported on council and planning board meetings which he had not attended using hearsay and quoting undisclosed sources of information. Clark's reports included emotionally charged words and phrases, name calling, unnecessary adjectives to sway readers thoughts, conjecture and even his direct personal opinions ..all compromising a professional code of journalism ethics. Clark even reported on events in which he had vested interests a journalistic no..no. His reports would often misstate and distort the facts and he was not immune to misquoting town officials to produce a story diametrically opposite the truth. Usually he failed to get all the sides of an issue.

Clark's editorials ranged from homey tales, to whiny complaints and on to furious rants; often demonstrating ignorance of his subject and seldom provoking a thought. Demeaning his competition, The Monument, and its editor, Elizabeth Prata, was perhaps his lowest point. In the letters to the editor section Clark made it common practice to add his own remarks at the end of letters he didn't like and often the remarks were snide and demeaning to the writer. Clark got the last word ... or so he thought.

During Clark's tenure real news became scarce, advertising plummeted, the paper became a mere bulletin board, and font size became larger in order to cover the white space--but not all of it. The best testimonial to Clark's malpractice is that it spawned a new newspaper, The Monument. In that way, and only in that way, he helped this town move forward, albeit unintentionally.

So now. on 11 January, Clark whined that HE wasn't properly notified of a public hearing insinuating that therefore the hearing must be noncompliant with the sunshine laws. He didn't tell us that the sunshine laws do not require that public hearings be noticed in Clark's paper. Then, on 19 January, he branded the Gray Town Council "liars" because the Gray Town Council resolved that the Gray village area is a "slum and blighted area". He didn't tell us that The Gray Village Master Plan Committee asked the town council to adopt that specific resolution in order for the committee to proceed with its application for a $1 million federal grant from a fund which the government sets aside for "slum and blighted area". I called the Chair of the Master Plan Committee, she confirmed that Ray didn't call her. He didn't tell us that the Gray Village Master Plan Committee is moving ahead with its plans to improve the Gray village area by applying for federal grants to build new and wider sidewalks and pedestrian crosswalks, and to add state of the art street lighting and tasteful landscaping. That is classic Clark conniving. We finally have a council that is moving Gray ahead, and Clark is trying to screw it up.

Editor, the people have a choice to read your newspaper or not, and to advertise in your paper or not. The choices the people make in this regard will ultimately determine the success or failure of your newspaper and in that way the people, not Ray Clark, will get the last word.
At the beginning I wrote that I believed that a new editor and publisher would redirect the goals and style of The Gray News to model after The Windham Independent, a fine publication--but now I wonder.

I wonder if you will allow Clark to extend his bully pulpit to your newest paper, The Gray-New Gloucester Independent News? I wonder if you will allow Clark to continue in his obsession to get the last word?

I assure you Ms. Editor, the people will get the last word and that will be no wonder.
Cal Cutter
Gray

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9 Comments:

  • Mr Clark was the one notifying the TV about "slum" as a parting blow to the town his paper use to be in. He, of course and as usual, knew the real story (the state had identified blighted areas of town). He even wrote positively about the grant in 2003 using the terms that are required to be used "slum and blight". But alas that was under a different council. You see with 'Clark's Cronies' it's not about what's BEST for the town but WHO does it. He and his buddy Berkowitz will now do ALL their bidding behind the scenes through there puppets.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:17 AM  

  • Well the female version of Ray Clark, editor Jackie Rybeck, has learned from her predecessor. The truth doesn't matter. She states she will not allow personal attacks then lets the Angry Armenian spew his verbal filth. Great job...that paper is a waste of a perfectly good tree.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:58 PM  

  • Biasbuster said:

    Stormin Paulie is ba-ack?! What’s he all hopped up about? Cal’s letter last week? Or the slum and blight thing? I didn’t go to the PO yet. Do tell!

    I did see The Monument Thursday and I was impressed. I thought the new guy did a good job on the Pennell issue, which is durn complicated, and did a nice job on the VMP. And the article on Persky was interesting. Whoa nice article on the Busy Bee too, that oen took soem digging and some courage. Great photos too. This was a good week for that paper. But not for the GN I guess!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:59 PM  

  • Dear Editor,
    Despite Ray's being wrong almost all of the time, I have only picked up the paper to read his angry comments, such as "Liar Liar", and Councilors are Bad. And, if you know him personally, you know that he comes off as a nice guy, despite the fact that his writing is scathing and degrading. Even if you ever believed that there was a $100,000 donor for Pennell, it's just hard to get over what a nice guy he is. It's hard to imagine that a person from Connecticut would come in here and try to run things and if you believe that then you are his friend. Despite the fact that he said that taxpayers wouldn't foot the bill for rehabbing Pennell, and later we found out he was mistaken (I won't say lie, because a nice guy like Ray wouldn't lie). After all, it's a free country and if he wants to call the councilors liars and leave pertinent facts out of his news reporting, well, that's the American way. Ms. Editor, I think you did the right thing. I'm glad that you have a friend in Ray and I think having a nice friend like that probably means a lot to you, seeings how you're new and haven't been able to get out and meet any other townspeople.
    Sincerely
    A Citizen

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:23 PM  

  • Dear Editor,
    I would like to share my respect and admiration for Ray Clark. When he was moving from CT, he could have moved anywhere and he picked Gray. We're so lucky that he came here. He found joy here and supported bake sales. He's not the type of guy who would ever say anything bad about the Fire and Rescue, he's just not the type of guy to report that kind of stuff. Ray has taken full opportunity of the advantages that being a small town paper brings. He's reported on concerts and repeatedly called our council liars. He's covered the Memorial Day Parades and lied about using taxpayer money to fix up Pennell. He's always respected our public officials, calling them fools, and liars. I think that Ray enjoyed his tenure running this town and I think he's going to enjoy it even more from behind the scenes. We're so lucky Ray picked us! Good job all these years Ray and now that you have an editor who has vowed to protect you, it's going to be all fun and no responsibility from here on out. God bless us everyone, but bless Ray especially because he's such a nice guy.

    I love God and Apple Pie and America
    A citizen

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:52 PM  

  • Biasbuster said:
    Dick Barter was the $100,000 donor. But Ray screwed it up with his anger and when no other donors came forward and the issue languished, Dick took it back. Then Ray got madder. That is why his knickers were in such a twist over it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:19 AM  

  • Wait til he sees what the SAD has in mind...hehehe

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:00 PM  

  • Care to share? Or just tease and lurk? What's up?

    By Anonymous Biasbuster, at 8:19 PM  

  • Anonymous said... 8:00 PM
    Sounds like a "Mancini Snicker"!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:52 AM  

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