Journalistic Integrity & the O

Cody Hoesly

Jon Stewart famously "killed Crossfire" - that CNN bastion of what passes these days for political reporting and analysis - with a tour de force guest appearance in which he charged that the bickering, biased blowhards on TV and radio talk shows are "hurting America."

The Oregonian isn't Crossfire, and I'm no Jon Stewart, but I'm taking this opportunity to call the "O" out on a major lack of integrity and due diligence, if it's not outright hypocrisy.  Now maybe I missed something, but it seems to me that the O is giving the tram a pass while it blisters Voter Owned Elections.  How so?  The answer lies in the tale of two projects involving big city money, both similarly situated but treated differently by the O.

The tram, Initially slated to cost around $15 million, saw its price tag balloon to $60 million due to ineptness, devious motives, and old fashioned, high stakes bargaining.  Whether or not it is a good idea, and how much the city should pay, is up for debate, and the debate has been divisive.  However, the O certainly saw lots of good things for Portland in the tram.  When Commissioner Dan Saltzman, facing a tough re-election campaign, was trying to decide whether to switch his decisive vote and approve more city money for the tram, potentially costing himself the election, the O editoralized that he should "stop finger-pointing and finish the tram."  When, shortly thereafter, Saltzman changed his vote, the O praised him, even though the switch increased the city's outlay from $3.5 million to $8.5 million.

Voter Owned Elections, another divisive issue, also costs the voters money.  For every candidate approved by the program, that's $150,000 out the door, plus administrative and other costs.  The few qualifying candidats this election cycle don't add up to much, less than $1 million.  For a long time now, many people have been fighting VOE, including the Portland Business Alliance, City Commission candidate Ginny Burdick, and others who tried to force a city-wide vote on VOE through a failed initiative.  Then, VOE ran into problems with corruption, ineptitude, and mismanagement.  The O's take: put it to a vote.  As the O said:

The issue is the loosey-goosey campaign system the City Council dubbed "voter-owned elections" and arrogantly passed into law without bothering to ask voters whether they wanted it.

Problem is, I just don't see the big difference between the tram and VOE when it comes to "loosey-goosey" planning, operation, and politicking.  They're both messed up right now, but both have the potential to be great assets to the city - so why does the O treat them differently?  Is it a pro-business slant?  Media feeding frenzy like with the recent troubles at city hall?  Hypocrisy?

I don't know, and the O hasn't said.  But it'd be nice if the O didn't leave us to speculate, but instead laid it out, loud and clear, why the $8.5 million tram shouldn't be up for a public vote, but VOE, costing a tenth of that, should be.  I don't get it, otherwise, unless there's some sketchy stuff going on in the form of bias, media powerball, or some other thing that isn't journalistic integrity and due diligence.

But  what the heck do I know?  I'm just a blogger.

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)

    What got me was the O's editorial that claimed that the development of the South Waterfront area was predicated on building the tram. So you got waterfront property in the last remaining undeveloped area close to downtown and you need a goofy tram to OHSU to induce developers to build yuppie condos in it? Gimme a break.

    But the real news blackout is on the $43 million that the city intends to spend to jumpstart the South Waterfront. Yeah, there's been some news about it, but not so much as about the tram, nor certainly with the scandalous pitch of the VOE SNAFU.

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    Tram = desired by Portland's power-brokers.

    VOE = despised by Portland's power-brokers.

    Therefore, tram supported by Theo, and VOE opposed by Theo.

  • colorless green ideas (unverified)

    simple: growth coalition theory.

    build more, sell more newspapers.

  • Oregonian Stinks (unverified)

    To simply put it, the O is a piece of crap newspaper. I wouldn't let my pet bird poop on it.

  • marco (unverified)

    They want us to think this is about money, when it's really about control.

    The editorial board knows that they are, in effect, lying, which is why they are so angry. I think it also drives them batshit that they can't boss Erik Sten around.

    They're dinosaurs. Opinions just aren't made by editorial writers any longer--at least not editorial writers with such an obvious bias. Bob Caldwell sits around his office and gets his opinions from his wife (who does PR for OHSU) and maybe three other people.

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    We read 99% of our news on line. The "O" is a relic, still printing crime story after crime story in Portland. Yet, the "O' purports itself to be a statewide newspaper. We need reporters covering Salem, Bend, Southern Oregon, the coast and points East. Most of the "O' is filled with reprints of yesterday's news from the AP, Knight Ridder News Service, and the NYT's. The "O's" Portland-centric slant serves to deepen the rural/metro divide. Perhaps the editorial board should spend 3 days in each region and write editorials from those vibrant areas. Voter owned elections flopped in Portland because of poor planning. It is fixable, but not if the "O" has anything to do with it.

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    I know this post is focused on the Oregonian, but I would like to inquire as to why there seems to be such an outcry against the tram project on this blog. Aren't progressives supposed to be in favor of public transportation? Is not the tram just another form of public transportion? Is it not a good thing that thousands of workers and patients at OHSU will have an alternative method to reach OHSU that does not require a car? Does public transportation become less valuable because it is used by white collar or professional riders going to their high paying jobs at OHSU? Many comments on this blog and in the Willamette Week are almost identical to the right wing outcry when they were building the first Max line to Gresham. I thought that the Republicans were the ones who opposed public transporation and large public works projects?

    From my standpoint, anything that encourages people to not use their cars to get to and from medical appointments or their jobs is a good thing. The fact that it will cost 300% more than initially predicted is unfortunate, adn clearly an indicator of the lack of financial skills of the forecasters, politicians and promoters who signed on in the first place (or, if you prefer, the dishonesty of those people in using bait and switch financial projections) but it has nothing to do with the value of the tram as an operating system added to our public transportation network.

  • mm (unverified)

    Since when does the Oregonian have any claim to journalistic integrity in the first place? There are endless examples like this, and the Goldschmidt fiasco sealed their reputation for shilling.

  • Hilda (unverified)

    italicIs it not a good thing that thousands of workers and patients at OHSU will have an alternative method to reach OHSU that does not require a car?italic

    The thousands of workers at OHSU will not be living in the South Waterfront area and will still need to use good old buses to get to work, and the privileged few who are allowed parking passes will use their cars. The tram is not for their benefit, it is still a puzzle to me just exactly who will be riding this tram.

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    While I don't have a very high opinion of the journalism in the 'O', I don't see these two issues as the end of civil discourse as we know it.

    To begin with the debate on the Tram for the past few months has been one of absolute demagoguery by those who oppose additional city funding. The city is on the hook for $25-$40 million if it pulls out now because of the contract signed when the construction started. Yes the contract was screwed up, yes OHSU should not have been allowed to put a building where the tram was supposed to go, yes it has been screwed up royally by the city, by OHSU, and yes even the Oregonian. Unfortunately, other than putting the sinners in the public stockade and getting middle schoolers to throw tomatoes at them, this is all water under the bridge. The only question today is does the city pay $5 million more to finish construction or $30 million to handle lawsuits and clean up. I vote for $5 million and it doesn't take much agonizing to make the decision.

    As for voter owned elections, it is also screwed up and needs to be fixed asap. While I do not share the Oregonian's need for an immediate vote, I am pretty disgusted with the utter lack of thought that went into its design. Frankly the legislative process broke down. This is the kind of issue that deserved greater debate and discussion before it went into effect. Hopefully, out of this mess can come a better law.

    The one common element in this is Mr. Sten. I do not know if he voted against the tram at the beginning, which would have been a good thing, but I believe he supported it then and is not willing to be honest with the voters now that the city is stuck with paying the $5 million now or paying more later. He has also been quiet about the VOE fiasco. In both cases he seems to be on the side of wasting the taxpayer's money.

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    Cody highlights an interesting case of apparent hypocrisy. I'd love to hear the Oregonian's response. But lest we get too ready to toss the baby out with this bathwater, recall that the editorial board is a different beast than the newsroom. Is there any evidence that reportage has been skewed? In fact, if it weren't for the Oregonian, how much would we actually know about the tram?

    As a blogger, I depend on actual journalists to go out and dig up the news. It's hard work, and for the most part, it looks like the Oregonian's doing a fine job. Yeah, they botched the Goldschmidt thing in the 70s. They've done hundreds of thousands of articles since. Do the critics of the O really wish it didn't exist?

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    I just can't help but note that the editorial in today's O again bashes VOE, this time making perfectly clear where its sympathies lie not just in terms of powerbrokering, but in terms of the upcoming election...

    I expect an O endorsement for Burdick against Sten sometime soon - there'll be no surprises there, given the O's track record. Just remember what that endorsement will mean, coming from a bought-and-sold newspaper angrily doing its best to sustain the status quo.

  • Roman (unverified)

    The key to Cody seems to be that when he disagrees with the Oregonian, they lack journalistic integrity. How about when they endorse Jesse Cornett? Is that another attempt of "a bought-and-sold newspaper angrily doing its best to sustain the status quo."

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    The issue is that the Tram has developers at the other end of the cash pipe, while the VOE does not. Therefore you will have defenders for the Tram and VOE will be an orphan.

    I think it is a misnomer to charachterize the Tram interests as "business" interests. They are not... They are government-complex interests. And the Oregonian will defend them at all costs.

    I was ridiculed by the Oregonian for actually opposing the government-complex interests while also being critical of the city government at the same time. Of course we have come to learn in Portland you can't be critical of both. One must take either the government-complex interests ala Ginny Burdick, or the city government interests like Eric Sten. (ok ok don't get mad at me for not referrencng Eric's support for VOE... I am speaking on a more broad level here.)

    The long and the short is that Mr. Hoesly has a point. Although I sure hope I did not hurt his reputation by agreeing with him. Now all you lefties give the guy a break. It is not his fault that a conservative actually agreed with him.

    yip yip

  • Thomas Ware (unverified)

    You think the O is bad? Hop across the hill and read The Bend Bullsh*ten. I doubt there's a better example of a fascist mouthpiece anywhere. One recent sunday edition I counted six blatently racist pieces in the first two sections. Oh yeah, day before yesterday the headlines were something to the effect that over half of America's collegfe students are "deeply religious".

  • Jeff Bull (unverified)

    Jeff Alworth, John Calhoun...thank you both; you saved this post. I just love it when bloggers gripe about the MSM, only to fiendishly link to it in the next post in order to prove their point.

    The only way your point adds up is through talking about mismanagement - and, once you head down that road, connections become possible that make even less sense. A plausible argument can be made about "a good idea, poorly executed," and there's even room to talk about solutions in search of problems, but that's pretty well the end of the line - especially when money comes into play. The tram is something the city opted to build, but they're eating money on that one largely because, as John Calhoun points out, the alternative is worse: tens of millions of dollars spent and large chunks of metal idling on the South Waterfront. What separates voter-owned elections from the tram is that we haven't reached a similar point of no return: pulling the plug on voter-owned elections bears nothing like the same fiscal consequences - and there's little point in pretending otherwise.

    In other words, it's not only possible, but pretty damn easy to see how The O could arrive at their position. There's also the fact that The O's Ryan Frank wrote one of the most comprehensive smack-downs on this story to date. If it's a conspiracy, it's a pretty shitty one.

    I'd push the point deeper still: how the hell have we reached a point where holding an opinion, or writing from a particular point of view requires a frickin' conspiracy among some shadowy "Old-boys" network? So they've got a stodgy, big-money point of view? So what? You've got an anti-corporatist/"grass roots" bias. I'm not going to blame this on your morning bowl of Mueslix, or all that time you spent in college going to classes while I was busy taking in happy hours. I'm going to sit down and read your argument and comment on that - because that's what is relevant. Why does "super-secret" motive have to come into play every frickin' time?

  • Jon (unverified)

    How's this for a reason....the editor of the O is married to the PR flack for OHSU.

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    It pains me for personal reasons to be defending The Oregonian here but people who think The Oregonian is a bad newspaper need to get out more.

    The editorial pages are not "journalism". (Thank goodness, because I have to agree that the output of the editorial board of The Oregonian sucks a lot of the time.) The newsroom has done a creditable job of reporting about the tram. People who don't get the difference would fit right in on the editorial board of The Oregonian.

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    [First, disclosure: I have a short term communications contract with Money in Politics Research Action Project.]

    Jeff Alworth makes an interesting an important point:

    "..recall that the editorial board is a different beast than the newsroom. Is there any evidence that reportage has been skewed?"

    It's no secret that the Oregonian's editorial page is hyperventalating over Voter-Owned Elections and defeating Erik Sten. Fair enough. But since you asked, let's look at the news coverage.

    Here's a good place to start: Oregonian article 'Loopholes trip up campaign financing'.

    The headline seems like editorial content to me. But from the Oregonian article:

    They chose not to limit to registered voters the people donating the required 1,000 contributions of $5 each. And they didn't require candidates to prove they raised the qualifying money. Either step could have prevented the emerging scandal...

    The League of Women Voters has called for the Citizens Campaign Commission to thoroughly review voter registration and increased money flow, which has yet to be reported in the Oregonian. But the opinion expressed by Anna Griffin that the registration changes would have prevented the Boyles incident belongs more in the one of the many editorials the Oregonian's done on this.

    Also missing from the article was the point that the Boyles violations were against current law. Griffin does not explain how her proposed changes would have prevented the Boyles scandal in this context.

  • Anne (unverified)

    I think Jeff Bull just made the whole thing a lot more complicated than it needs to be. I don't see this as a question of mismanagement at all. It is a question of end result and ethics.

    Voter Owned Elections benefits everyone. Pulling the plug on voter owned creates enormous fiscal consequences over time. BIG MONEY owning elections: It's how we ended up with a President and a war that no one deserves. There are major financial, social, health, educational, ethical ramifications for regular people when Big Money owns. (By the way, there are SEVERE consequences for fraudulent use of the system, so I don't know why everyone is freaking out about loss of money)

    The Tram benefits everyone as well. It is a key to the South Waterfront and should be built. But with Saltzman, we lost the City's power to negotiate on behalf of the People's money. Which is in fact - HIS JOB.

    Both are good ideas & both have problems with them that need to be fixed. The obvious super-secret motive is that the Oregonian editorial board lives in a bubble of a world and extends their limited belief system because it has the biggest microphone. That's human nature - I don't judge them for it--but I am glad Cody called them out on it.

    Egos aren't conspiracies, but they are very powerful.

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    I think that the Oregonian's coverage is generally above average, and Griffin has done a good job with this story. However, the article linked above was disappointing in its editorial content.

    The League of Women Voters of Portland also submitted an Op Ed that was printed today. It was below 500 words as required, but substantive changes were made to dilute the piece in terms of the League's repsonse to fraud and in how candidate Ginny Burdick was mentioned.

  • (Show?)


    Bob Caldwell is not "the editor of the O".

    Newspapers have lots of editors. Bob Caldwell is the editorial page editor. He's not involved with the news side of the paper.

    Sandy Rowe is "the" editor of The Oregonian.

  • Jon (unverified)


    Yes, I know is he the op/ed editor. Forgive me for not specifying.

    Unfortunately, the criticism of the O still stands. And they tend to "editorialize" on their news pages from time to time as well.

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    Charlie, as a clarifier, when I posed the question of newsroom accuracy, it really was a question. Good work on citing a case where the reporting was suspect.

    I've followed their coverage of the tram more closely (mainly for the theater it provides) and came away agreeing with the Sten-Leonard position. I've backed off of that for a number of reasons, but based purely on their news reportage, it was a damaging portrait of folly.

  • Madam Hatter (unverified)

    I hadn't been reading the news on the tram very closely until the past two months or so, I'll admit, so I might have missed this earlier.

    But I was a bit taken aback to find out here - after weeks of coverage on the tram fiasco in the O - that one of the biggest problems was that OHSU chose to build on the original site of the tram landing.

    I didn't know and hadn't read that before that article came out. This seemed to me to be a pretty significant part of the story that the O neglected to report until then. From the article:

    Picking the site on the land-choked Marquam Hill was one of the first tasks. In summer 2001, said Janine Stanton, an OHSU construction manager, they settled on a spot adjoining the existing hospital to the northeast -- the same site where Jewett had suggested landing the tram.

    Stanton said she knew expanding the hospital there would have consequences for the tram landing. But Jewett told her it could be done, she said.

    BTW - does anyone beside me get a bit nervous when they say this new landing design is "uncharted ground"?

    Also from the article:

    "We've never done anything like that before, for sure," said Randy Woolwine, the U.S. vice president of sales for Doppelmayr, an Austrian firm that has built trams since the early 1900s.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)

    recall that the editorial board is a different beast than the newsroom.

    That is not true at the Oregonian. Reporters either take their leads from the editorial staff or they don't last very long as reporters. Is there are conspiracy? No. All that is needed is a desire on the part of reporters to get along with management and a management that hires reporters who want to get along.

    people who think The Oregonian is a bad newspaper need to get out more.

    People who think it is not should pay closer attention. There is a long list of stories the Oregonian has missed from Packwood to Goldschmidt. And there is an even longer list of stories that only appeared in the Oregonian after the editorial board had signaled that they were acceptable topicss. What doesn't get covered is worse than how they handle the stories that do.

    There were, afterall, claims that the tram was being low-balled all during the process of its approval. Those claims never got reported in the Oregonian and, obviously, they made no effort to find out if they were true.

    I think most people who watch the Oregonian closely understand that their editorial judgements infect their news judgements. And, while they certainly aren't the worst paper in the world in that regard, they are pretty terrible for the size, circulation and influence they exert.

  • Lee (unverified)

    I agree with Ross Williams latest post. It seems that many of you posting on the tram issue have not been party to where numerous posts show the lack of media reporting on the tram through the important earlier years.

    Case in point: In late 03, the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) of the PATI Board (the tram builders formed by City Council) wrote to City Council a three page document asking for a halt to the continuation of the design/build process because of the cost overruns already appearing on paper. Not one article in the O or other media, even though the O has reporters attending these meetings. This was over two years before the actual start of construction. I could go on with proof of the lack of O's and other media not reporting the other major "clamity signs" that were showing before the tram costs reached $57.5M.

    When the cost of a trip that is just over 3000 ft in length reaches $65 based on the tram costs at only $30M, then I think the public should be aware of this and has a right to comment and question that this is acceptable expenditure of our tax dollars.

    As recently posted on bojack, the taxpayers costs for the tram is not $8.5M, but more like $35M with all the "gimmies" that are part of the tram deal recently "negotiated" in Amendment 7 and 8. I don't think whether something "only costs $5M or $35M" should be the basis of when questioning can occur on public expenditures.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)

    You want another example of the Oregonian reporting. They actually were told by the county chair's office that the Multnomah County attorney was reviewing the law with regard to gay marriage. They simply didn't think it would go anywhere so they didn't report it.

    Now, its not entirely their fault. No one said - hey this isn't just pro-forma we may go forward with this. But the fact is one reason that decision caught the public totally by surprise is the Oregonian didn't report the information they had.

  • printguy (unverified)

    Reporters either take their leads from the editorial staff or they don't last very long as reporters. Is there are conspiracy? No. All that is needed is a desire on the part of reporters to get along with management and a management that hires reporters who want to get along.

    Gimme a break. You have even the tiniest bit of evidence for this? Name one reporter who "didn't last very long" because of this.

    Plain fact is, most of the newsroom doesn't give two sh*ts what goes on on the editorial page. And the edit staff has about zero power to affect newsroom decisions.

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    Today the O endorses Burdick in the election, mentioning both the tram (it's necessary completion) and VOE (its unnecessary waste).

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    Printguy: As I wrote above, I think the Oregonian's news coverage of the Boyles affair has been pretty decent until recently, but that the last piece by Griffin (linked above) had content more suited for the editorial pages.

    I'm the first to admit that I'm pretty close to this story and may not have an objective view myself. I'd be interested (and Im not asking this rhetorically) to hear your thoughts on whether Griffin's statement that the specific public policy changes advocated in her article "could have prevented the emerging scandal" is actually editorial content.

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    Reporters either take their leads from the editorial staff or they don't last very long as reporters. Is there are conspiracy? No. All that is needed is a desire on the part of reporters to get along with management and a management that hires reporters who want to get along.

    As someone who worked in the newspaper industry for quite some time, I can assure you this is exactly the way it is.

    Most often the publishers are republicans whose job first and foremost is to make money-- not to cover the news. Many of those I've met never even worked as reporters.

    It's the editorial board and publisher that have a huge say over what goes on in the newspaper. At the papers I worked on, the editorial staff had numerous unwritten rules regarding covering certain topics, favorable/unfavorable stories on elected officials and business owners they supported, etc.

    I had several situations where I had the choice of going along with the publisher/editorial board (and therefore either not covering something or covering it in a slanted way). The first time I stuck to my guns and was fired.

    After that, I went along because I needed the job.

    At the last position, I stuck to my guns again because I was tired of just going along. After all, what good is a story when you've slanted it and only give people half the info. When I was told the story had to be "X" way or I'd be let go, I quit.

    It was that which drove me out of the newspaper business-- I just couldn't do it any more.

    I love newspapers and I really miss working for them, but editorial boards and publishers have just about taken all the true news out of the papers.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)

    Plain fact is, most of the newsroom doesn't give two sh*ts what goes on on the editorial page.

    I'm sorry. I don't think that is true, although I am sure a lot of reporters at the Oregonian are convinced it is. The fact is reporters don't decide what goes in the paper. Editors do. And reporters do care what the editors think is news. I guarantee you no editor thinks what appears important to the editorial staff isn't important enough to report in the paper. And no editor thinks he is going to score points by aggressively covering aspects of issues the editorial staff thinks aren't even worthy of consideration in their editorials. Everyone reports to Sandra Rowe.

  • printguy (unverified)

    Ross, in response to someone saying The O's editorial staff is separate from the newsroom, you said:

    That is not true at the Oregonian. Reporters either take their leads from the editorial staff or they don't last very long as reporters.

    Again, I ask, do you have any evidence? Can you name one reporter who "didn't last very long?"

  • Susan Abe (unverified)

    I think we've got a confusion of language.

    The "editorial staff" includes editors, reporters, artists, photographers, designers, columnists, researchers -- all the people involved in creating non-advertising content (so saying "reporters take their leads from the editorial staff" doesn't make much sense). At The O, that's maybe 400 people, of whom maybe a dozen on any given day have time to breathe, let alone think about the grand scope of covering issues beyond the next deadline.

    "Editors" are people who make decisions about whether and how to run a given story. News editors have nothing to do with the editorial page or the op-ed page, and most don't care about it, except to be frustrated that everybody at every party blames them for what the editorial board does. Every day of their lives they have to scramble to fill empty expanses of newsprint with something worth reading, so very few will turn down an interesting, well-reported story for any reason. Editors love to think of themselves as scrappy and independent, so essentially none will turn down a story just to avoid a fight.

    The "editorial board" is a group assigned to pick two or three topics from the news each day (the correlation Ross Williams notes, that almost every story appearing on the editorial page is also covered elsewhere in the paper, is true, but he has the causal link backwards -- news editors tell the E.B. what's happening, rather than asking it), agree on positions on them, and write unsigned essays expressing those positions.

    Anybody who thinks The O lets advertisers' money control the flow of news has forgotten the cover play given to a local car dealer's run-in with the law. Ever heard the trouble Dave Barry got into for having, just once, suggested that shopping for a car isn't fun?

    Anybody who thinks editors pay attention only to those stories the editorial board blesses needs to count again. Three editorials, a couple hundred news stories. The way editors look at it (those who don't just ignore the editorials), they get aggressive on aspects of issues that haven't yet appeared on the editorial page to goad the board into taking on those aspects.

    The O's publishers, the Stickels, are some of the best in the world at keeping their noses out of the newsroom. Fred Stickel backed Bush in 2004 but did not push his influence beyond his personal one vote when the editorial board endorsed Kerry. In the newsroom, his opinions are almost entirely unfelt.

    And while we're at it, could we retire the old whine about the use of wire services? The O uses AP, NYT and Knight-Ridder stories because the metro area doesn't have the tens of millions of residents it takes to form a subscriber base that would support bureaus all over the country and the world, but you still have an interest in events beyond Mt. Hood. It is not a sign of lack of quality.

    The O has problems. It's stretched too thin -- it's had a hiring freeze on, with brief periods of slushiness, for five years now, since Montgomery Ward left town and K-Mart mostly followed. There's no way it could look into even one percent of the issues Multnomah County staff members are asked to research, let alone every rumor about every politician's misbehavior (although both the Packwood and Goldschmidt miscues, let me point out, were before Sandy Rowe took over). Its thinning herd of correspondents from Eastern and Southern Oregon and the Coast hasn't a prayer of catching most of the stories out there. Headline writers worry more about fitting the allocated space, and then about sounding clever, than about doing justice to the nuances of a story. The editorial staff needs more people from diverse socioeconomic strata, and more political conservatives. But biased reporting and editing? No.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)

    Printguy -

    No. I am not going to get into a debate with you about why specific reporters are no longer with the Oregonian. The only ones that matter are the ones that are there.

    Susan Abe -

    You have a wonderful idealized version of a newspaper. But editors (both news and editorial page) are hired because they match well with the newspaper. You hire people for their "news judgement" and you determine their news judgement by how well it matches yours.

    Sex scandals about prominent people, no matter how interesting to the public, are not news at the Oregonian. Does management tell editors "no sex scandals?" I doubt it. They just hire people who don't see that as real news.

    But pleasing the boss is hardly unheard of - even in newsrooms. So if you hire people who want to please their boss, you basically just have to show what pleases you and let nature take its course. They can have as scrappy and independent a self-image as they want.

    (the correlation Ross Williams notes, that almost every story appearing on the editorial page is also covered elsewhere in the paper, is true, but he has the causal link backwards

    Well that is no doubt true to some extent. But the newspaper is not the only source for editorials. People meet directly with the editorial board to plead their case - assuming they can get a metting. But you can also see the process run the other direction. Stories that were considered to have no or limited "news value" have suddenly started getting a variety of stories from different angles after the editorial page takes a position. All are supportive of the editorial pages point of view.

    The way editors look at it (those who don't just ignore the editorials), they get aggressive on aspects of issues that haven't yet appeared on the editorial page to goad the board into taking on those aspects.

    I am sure the news editors try to influence the editorial page. It is not a one-way street. But that really contradicts the idea that there is some sort of wall between the two. Both work for the same boss and are conscious of what the other is doing.

    In the newsroom, his opinions are almost entirely unfelt.

    Who hired Sandy Rowe? Again, if you hire the right people you don't need to push them around.

    The best way to judge the Oregonian is to read it when you know something about the story in detail and don't have too large stake in it and ask if it covering all aspects for the public. Or read it when it is on your side and ask yourself if it is fairly portraying the opposition. Too often the answer is its not - its selecting its information to tell a particular "story" and leaving out the things that might detract from that or suggest alternative story lines. In general, if the Oregonian has a bias it is overwhelming deference to prominent and powerful people.

  • printguy (unverified)

    No. I am not going to get into a debate with you about why specific reporters are no longer with the Oregonian. The only ones that matter are the ones that are there.

    Didn't ask for a debate. Asked for evidence. Which, not surprisingly, you don't seem to have.

    Susan Abe -

    You have a wonderful idealized version of a newspaper.

    <h2>No, she's exactly right. And has a lot more credibility on the issue than some random guy on the internet does.</h2>

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