Saturday, March 03, 2007

Every Time I Think "Maybe I'm Just Seeing Things" ...

I go and read another clearly prejudiced, one-sided, doesn't-answer-the-questions article in the Boston Globe. Today's, while smaller than most, is even worse than usual. It's penned by the Associated Press; I don't know if this is either the whole article or just the Globe's edit. I'd like to find that out, but there's neither an email address to communicate to the author nor even a name linked to the shoddy article.

So, let's just skip to the article and see what's so bad about it. Here's a snippet:
A bill filed by Governor Deval Patrick to speed construction on former tidelands would help a large Cambridge project for which two of his key aides worked before joining the administration.
Further in the article, we learn this:

Clarey and other activists are even more upset because Daniel O'Connell, Patrick's new housing and development secretary, helped lead the NorthPoint team before joining the administration. The project's former lead attorney, Greg Bialecki, is now a top aide to Patrick involved in real estate permitting.
Yikes! That's pretty damning, huh? Well, maybe not so much...

Both have recused themselves from any dealings related to the project, the administration said.

So, again Boston Globe, what's the answer? Did the former campaign members actually recuse themselves? The answer to that question is extremely relevant. The Boston Globe has resorted into a he-said-she-said newspaper. Worse, it usually skips that whole concept in the press of actually giving the other side an equal opportunity to defend itself. While "the administration" is mentioned in the article, it doesn't mention the actual administration official. No one is quoted; there aren't any words coming out of the administration's mouth at all.

Meanwhile, Richard Cleary - an angry Cambridge resident - is given a very human face, obviously meant to make him out as the "good guy." Yet, we know nothing about Cleary, his organization or any of the details surrounding what's made him so upset. Is his organization a noble one? Are his attacks on Deval even relevant to what's going on? We don't know, the Boston Globe did no digging. (For any of you who think we should just trust all these organizations at face value, I refer you to this blog.)

While this kind of article was clearly intended to be a 'filler' and just take up space in the print, the Boston Globe has an obligation to actually hold to the journalistic integrity that's fitting of "the paper of record." That means it needs to only print well-researched, fair and informative articles. It also means it needs to skip one-sided, truthy articles, primarily featuring one or two speakers of the same cause out to smear anyone - Republican, Democrat or even Mooninite. If the paper wants to continue to be taken seriously, it needs to stop these hackish stories. That doesn't mean it should stop keeping a close eye on the Patrick administration; in fact, it should keep a closer eye on the Governor. It just needs to write fair, comprehensive stories that actually fact-check and preferably are investigative in nature. Otherwise, people should just read the blogs. That way, at least it's free.

Update: The Boston Globe's current news tactics are really doing well, huh? Maybe, just maybe, if they actually wrote real news, instead of he-said-she-said nonsense, readers would come back and the paper would become profitable again. Otherwise, they can continue down Einstien's Path of Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.


high horse said...

Is there anything factually wrong with the article? I know you think that everytime the Globe writes about Deval, it is a "hackish" GOTCHA piece. In truth, you are the only one playing GOTCHA. Breathe. It is very rare that an Associated Press article gives the author's name. The same is true when Associated Press photos are used in major publications. I know, everyone's out to get the man behind the drapes.

Ryan Adams said...

There are lies, damn lies... and statistics. Did I say there was anything "factually wrong" with the article? Fortunately, sound journalism ethics extends beyond being factually correct. Facts are only one principal behind journalism - an important one, but just one nonetheless.

Equal opportunity and fair play is another one. Not using language meant to incite outrage! is another. The reason I don't critique many of the other articles in the Globe for these very same reasons, other than Deval Patrick articles, is because that's what I'm reading in the Globe lately. I could guess they're being equally hackish elsewhere too.

However, that said, there are members of the Globe staff who at the very least aren't particularly fond of Mr. Patrick. I'm not saying they should be; their articles should be neutral. However, you can tell that some on the news staff (and there's a difference between the various staffs) have created articles that just aren't sound journalism. My guess is their hostilities either have to do with the fact that he's critiqued the media on a number of occasions - so they now just don't like the guy - or that the media is almost always harder on Democrats, trying to stay clear of the "media is liberal" boogeyman.

Anonymous said...

Everyone in the media wants to break the "Watergate" type story. That's why they're generally negative. It's just now in this state all the power is in the liberals hands, and guess what it's open season.

Ryan Adams said...

Well, I'm all for trying to break the next Watergate, but Woodward and Bernstein actually employed methods of investigative journalism. All this stuff is basically CNN and Fox News in print; talking heads saying he said she said. I criticize not because it's against a guy who I personally support, but because it's just lousy journalism. (Like I've said numerous times, often these articles are asking the right questions - just failing at really answering them.)

Anonymous said...

But I would say overall the ethics of journalists have fallen over the last few years. Look at the made up stories (16 year old crack queens etc) and the "unnamed" sources that reporters use. Now I'm much more skeptical of anything I read in the papers, the reporters are reporting for their agendas not reporting for information.

Ryan Adams said...

Or they're protecting their "friends" aka sources, caring more about their relationships with their sources than actually delivering key information. It's amazing how they've been duped all these years.

Hopefully we'll reach a tipping point of terrrrrrrible journalism and organizations will have no choice but to reform and create policies that will keep these problems from happening again.

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