Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Now This is Getting Ridiculous: More Journamalism at The O

Let's see, the victims of Sam Adams careless driving, who have a real interest in his condition at the time, the Portland Police, who are trained to spot signs of intoxication, and a professional reporter, who clearly has higher ethical standards than The Oregonian, all say Adams showed no signs of having been under the influence of alcohol when he had is fender-bender. So what does The Oregonian report? Two bystanders who say he 'smelled of beer.' Is this the lede of an objective journalist and news organization? No. [Note that The O has changed the headline on the web site - the print headline read something like "Second Bystander Claims Adams Showed Signs of Intoxication' - which shows that even they may realize objectivity has been lost]

The Oregonian is allowing its (misguided, but that is another point) editorial opinions to color its journalism, and is at risk of loosing credibility. There is a term for this type of coverage: yellow journalism.

As if this was not enough, Anna Griffin decides this is a good opportunity to essentially reprint an old column suggesting that since Adams is not perfect he risks destroying the city! And she has the temerity to assert that the timing of this column has nothing to do with the accident - yea right. At least she could write something original.

I do think an effective city government is a good thing (as Jacob Grier has made me admit) - and this constant attempt to undermine Adams's effectiveness is destructive to the city. The Oregonian is so desperate to show that they were right that Adams cannot be an effective mayor, that they are actively trying to make it so. It is a disgrace. I am a staunch defender of the fourth estate and have even suggested publicly subsidizing reporting, but my defense comes from the vital role journalism plays in our democracy, and with this privileged position comes responsibility to journalistic ethics. The Oregonian is failing in that regard.

So, hey Oregonian, how about reporting on what the city, under Adams's leadership is actually doing these days - now that would be useful to know...

[By the way, April Baer of OPB had it just right, mentioning the allegations in the body of the piece but leading with the official report which asserts so signs of intoxication - kudos]

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