Thursday, June 23, 2005

Journalism 101

[Update: 4/4/06: Why do some posts on SewerWatch have comments and others don't? If you read through this blog you will see that I am highly critical of the marketing tactics that have been used over the last eight years in Los Osos, primarily by Pandora Nash-Karner, and her marketing firm, Pandora and Company. On her web site it says she practices something called "behavior based marketing strategies." Using that type of strategy to sell a product or a business is one thing. Who cares? Buyer beware. However, using that type of strategy within the framework of Los Osos, a community where, according to polls, one-third of the residents are age 65 and over, I find that disgusting.

Criticism I can handle, it's the "behavior based marketing strategies" that I'm so wary of. So, whenever I get the slightest hint that something in the comments section is a little too "behavior based marketing strategy"-ie, I shut down the comments section... hate to do it, but why give people that I can show deliberately mislead, an opportunity to deliberately mislead? Below is the post I wrote when I turned off the comments section the first time.]

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After reading some of those "comments" from yesterday, it is now very clear to me why newspapers have a "letters to the editor" policy.

Good God, you guys need to tighten up your game.

Sorry, but I had to remove the "comments" section. I wanted to keep the comments coming because I thought the interaction would make this blog better, but they were so poorly thought out and so completely unsourced that they were making this blog worse (with the possible exception of Mr. Sparks). So, as my friend Jim Rome says, "More of me and less of you is a good thing."

I want to give some of you posters from yesterday a quick journalism lesson.

When I was studying journalism at Cal Poly many years ago, it was department policy to give any story that made an unsourced claim an F. And, boy, my ol' journalism professors would have dished out some Fs yesterday.

Follow me on this... without pointing to a source, anyone can say anything:
- Jesus shot JFK
- The Dodgers won the last 10 World Series
- Bush lied about why he invaded Iraq

But WITH a source, look what happens:

According to the Downing Street Memo, Bush lied about why he invaded Iraq.

See the difference?

Now, let's look at some of the unsourced comments from yesterday:

- "It would take a minimum of five years to go from square A to square B and end up costing the residents a minimum of $500 per MONTH." (Grade: F)

- "The Tri-W location was selected because it was the closest acreage to where the majority of the effluent would be collected." (Grade: F)

- "The Coastal Commission told the CSD to remove the amenities." (Grade: F-)

Not only do all of those statements get Fs from me, but, I assure you, my former journalism professors as well. If that's the level of information that's been wafting around Los Osos for the past 4-5 years, then it's obvious why your community is so torn apart.

The Coastal Commission told the CSD to remove the amenities? Not according to the August, 2004, California Coastal Commission staff report, page 89.

I get an A.

'til next time


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