Oregon Crime Down, Crime Reporting Up

Jeff Alworth

If you've ever had the misfortune to be passing by KPTV (Fox, Channel 12) at around 10 pm, you have been treated to some of the many horrors that befell unsuspecting citizens as they tried to navigate the Baghdad-like dangers of living in Portland.  For example (all from today's top stories):

Funny thing is, violent crimes in Portland are down 4.4%.

Twenty people were murdered in Portland last year. That's down from 29 in 2004 and is a much smaller number than in some cities of similar size, such as Milwaukee (122), Nashville (95) and Oklahoma City (54). Seattle had 25 murders.

Not only does this buck a national trend, but it is way below murder rates in the 80s in the 50s and 60s.  (Violent crime was also down 7.2% in Salem and 8.4% in Eugene.)  Further proof that it doesn't have to actually bleed to lead--merely the suggestion that it may bleed, or may have once bled, or is capable of bleeding is enough.  Anything to do with blood, really. 

But don't be fooled, it appears your fellow citizens aren't really all that dangerous. 

  • Rebel Dog (unverified)

    Fox has obviously set out to be the lackey of power, and makes few bones about it. I think they would agree with your point about crime, which is why they have the nationwide roundup of scary things to make you think it can happened at any time/place. Not enough krap locally. My ire is focused right now on those news outlets that used to be half decent that seem to have decided that the Fox business model is the only way to go. Like KATU. So how about some concrete proposals for reform, or at least better disclosure.

    1). Any story that management decides to air because the subject of the story has or will pay promotional consideration should be fully disclosed. Any business which uses this kind of placement should be boycotted. If pickets showed up outside Fox's "client of the day's" establishment each morning they deign to feature them, perhaps they'd be less enthusiastic about the attention.

    2). Stories that are read verbatim, not written in house, should be quoted as such, not read as their news. This would pretty much wipe out KATU and Fox's air time.

    3). Features where the teaser is longer than the report are not news, they are advertisements.

    4). News readers' employee requirements/handbook should be publicly available for review. If Fox forbids their newsreaders to use certain words we have a right to know about the bias. A few years back they were advertising in the Oregonian for a news reader. Job descriptions can be revealing, even in the most spin orientated corps. They stated that "a background in journalism is not cricital, but the applicant must be comfortable with a personality based news format". A personality based news format. That really says it all. So what kind of personality is supposed to identify with Shauna Parsons? Very scary that.

    5). Any news outlet that has decided a priori to support various issues/positions should be registered as a PAC. Like the Mormon controlled newspapers in San Francisco.

    6). News outlets should be liable for invalid logic which leads to character destroying conclusions. Like reporting that the passanger in a fatal auto accident had smoked marijuana in the last 24 hours, so drugs were a factor in the accident.

    7). Talking heads should post their resumes on the news outlets website. Many's only qualification is that they've been talking heads before. Just once I'd like to hear someone remind the public that Barry MacCaffery (sp?) is a failed US drug czar. For that matter, they should call themselves what they last did. Well drug czar didn't work out, so I'll just skip that part and go back to being a general. What the hell did Alexy Lallas ever do to be a talking head besides being noticed early on as a possible talking head.

    8). How about their having to read rebuttals from non-profit, expert bodies, disputing matters of fact reported by the outlet?

    How many times have you heard the phrase "defrocked priest" on the news? Constantly. Problem is, it has no meaning. Zero. According to Catholic theology, "you are a priest forever, according to the line of Melchizadek" (sp?). You can't "unordain" a priest. Even the pope can't. Technically, even God can't. The only possible meaning is "no longer celebrates mass". Duh, the guy's in solitary confinement in jail. I'd probably be able to guess that he doesn't have a parish.

    Voyager flies past Yur-ane'-us and it's suddenly Yur'-anos.

    If I hear another story about dietary calcium that ends with "drink milk", I'll scream. Yeah, milk has a lot of calcium. So does limestone. The issue is absorption and swallowing limestone is just about as effective. Little is absorbed from dairy products compared to pinto beans and collard greens. Almost every one of these stories is connected to the Dairy Council, but is always read as "the latest research indicates...". French fries are Americans' #1 source of vitamin C. There's so much spin people don't have a clue what they actually do.

    BTW, what's good news in this country, anyway? There's been a page one story in most the civilized world for the last 4 days that I've yet to see mentioned anywhere in the US. The pentagon issued a very interesting rebuttal, which I've seen covered no where here, because no one carried the original accusations. You can get the BBC just fine with even a 56K modem connection. Lots of world newspapers are online. Doesn't anyone that watches local news get exactly what they deserve?

  • true_slicky (unverified)

    My big thing about this is the fact that natioanl crime has jumped big-time in fifteen years.

    I believe everyone here as read Al Franken's "Lies & Lying Liars." At one point in the book (I don't own it so I can't cite it) Franken points out an editorial from the Wall Street Jouranl in 2002 that pointed out that violent crime had dropped, and the editorial writer wrote something along the lines of "take that, Clinton!" The point attempting to be made was that in the one year or so in office, George W. Bush's crime-fighting policies had led to a decrease in crime and made for a safer America. Except, as Al points out, the numbers showing the drop had occurred throughout the 90s. And last I checked Dubya wasn't president then.

    So the latest numbers are out. Violent crime isn't just high- it's at the highest its been in fifteen years. (Who was President 15 years ago?) You can draw many conclusions, and without an in-depth look at the numbers it's hard to get a clear look at what's happening, but one conclusion is obvious: With a conservative president with the last name Bush in the White House, the breakdown of society will occur. Our nation's safety net will disappear, people will become more hopeless, and choices will become limited. Drug use will rise, and people's respect and dignity for each otehr will decrease. Dear lord, it's 1990 all over again- and has been for the past few years.

    Obviously, Dubya's crime-fighting policy is as effetive as his immigration policy. Or his global warming policy. Or his rebuilding New Orleans policy. Or his... aw fuck...

  • GECKO (unverified)

    What backs up the assertion that "crime reporting" is up? Even as the dawn of the television age, "if it bleeds, it leads" was the policy in most newsrooms.

    More importantly, you should recognize that many property crimes go unreported (both to the Police and the media) because people realize it won't do a damn bit of good, and may actually impact the property values of their neighborhood.

    Crime statistics are misleading, at best.

  • TKrueg (unverified)

    And we wonder why elections are only drawing 30% of registered voters (what is that, like, 15% of the whole population??).

    The local stations used to have Salem capitol and Portland city council correspondents to give us the scoop on our local political workings. Today, you'd spit out your coffee if you heard FOX-12 start a sentence with "State Representatives voted today to...". Knowing that, can we depend on our only other mainstream source of news, The Oregonian, to reach citizens with comprehensive coverage? Does the paper even reach the Wal-Mart crowd? Are important stories buried on page A23 going to ever going to convey urgency to the populace?

    This is what we've become. A small, dedicated voting bloc fetishized by Middle America as too partisan, angry, serious and 'unhinged'. It sure feels lonely to care, doesn't it?

  • Kitty C (unverified)

    What? No mention of the Right To Carry in Oregon, and how that has impacted (lowered) the crime rates? For shame. Seems some gun control advocates have their heads in the sand.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    The War on Drugs is the best evidence that violent crime has dropped since the 80s. In fact, the introduction of the pill started the steady decline in the most violent crimes. While it may go up under GOP administrations, the broader decade by decade trend is down since the introduction of the pill.

    <h2>The War on Drugs was created to create felonies that could be easily solved to keep funding continuing to grow. Unfortunately, this administration is making it hard to compare as they keep fudging centuries old definitions. Those killed in the twin towers were part of the FBI's uniform murder statistics for '01.</h2>

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