Thursday, June 17, 2010

Spotlight on The Standard-Examiner Letters Section

Three reader-submitted letters which deserve particular attention

By George K

I would like to mention on WCF three letters to the editor that appeared in yesterday’s and today’s newspaper.

Mr. Bob Williams in his short letter, “Godfrey seeks the voter’s favor,” came to the same conclusion as I: Godfrey will run again in 2011 for a fourth term.

PLEASE!! WILL AN HONEST, HONORABLE, DECENT, CAPABLE PERSON RUN FOR MAYOR AGAINST HIM?!

Ogden cannot stand another four years of the Godfrey administration! Godfrey will have given it away to his FOMs. Or put us into bankruptcy!

The letter by Vaughn Cavender of North Ogden, “City’s treatment of outstanding officer is appalling,” brings to light a grave injustice done to one of Ogden’s most conscientious and community-minded police officers, Ron Gardiner. You will remember him and his dancing horse, Sundance, at all city-sponsored events including Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, and as one of the three police officers who almost died because of exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning when performing an official investigation. He endured more than a year-long battle recovering from the effects of that in-the-line-of-duty injury. Upon his return to duty, he received permanent injuries during an Ogden City sponsored training that caused him to retire early. He is still unable to lead a normal life. Taking Sundance to an activity requires a recuperation period of several days. The Godfrey administration has fought him in his efforts to receive compensation for his medical bills and forced leave of absence, plus they have treated him abominably.

Mr. Cavender assessed the Godfrey administration correctly when he described them as “corrupt,” and stated that they should “defend Officer Gardiner and put as much energy into taking care of him as they are defending the police chief of any wrong doing.” We might add that the police chief and the administration knowingly and deliberately broke the law. Mr. Cavender went on to say, “The City of Ogden appalls me and I am glad I am not a resident of that corrupt city government. Please show this fine officer some justice.”

I most certainly hope that Ogden residents can see what is clear to residents of nearby communities with honest mayors and support personnel and give Godfrey his walking papers next year!

Now to address the letter authored by Mr. Robert A. Becker and his criticism of the editorial page editor, Doug Gibson, “Editor offered too much space for his views.”

Mr. Becker states that Mr. Gibson “diminishes opportunities for other voices and other points of view to appear when he awards himself additional columns on those pages in the space of a month.” I would like to ask Mr. Becker if he knows of any letters or points of view that have not been published in the newspaper because of Mr. Gibson’s commentaries. I would dare say that he has not withheld any commentaries or letters, and that he wrote his articles to use space for which there was no other point of view or citizen letter.

I find Mr. Gibson’s editorials refreshing and often filled with good common sense. A welcome change from the liberal points of view that are published by the editorial board and were the opinion of the previous editorial page editor.

Keep writing, Mr. Gibson!

17 comments:

ozboy said...

George

While I agree with you that Mr. Gibson writes some pretty good editorials, I also agree with Mr. Becker that he really laid an egg with this one. I also believe that Don Porter, the former editorial writer, did a whole lot of very good editorials in his time.

I have long wondered how the Standard could be so consistently good with their editorials and so utterly dismal in their local Ogden political reporting. It is sometimes like reading two completely separate news papers.

MOMO from PROVO said...

Let me get this straight. Somebody publishes a newspaper in Ogden? Standard-Examiner? Never heard of it.

Curmudgeon said...

GK:

In re: the letter about Mr. Gibson [which I wrote], you said you "find Mr. Gibson’s editorials refreshing and often filled with good commonsense."

I presume what you meant not "Mr. Gibson's editorials" --- he is as I think, the main writer of the SE's editorials --- but rather his op-ed pieces, printed as "Guest Commentaries". Correct?

I too like Mr. Gibson's writing, and I said so in the letter. I find his pieces interesting, often chewy, whether I agree with him on whatever he's writing about or not. But Mr. Gibson is not a "guest commentator" on the SE's editorial and op-ed page. He is the editor of that page. He writes most of the editorials, and he decides what the content of the rest of the page will be. Editing the page, writing the editorials, deciding the rest of the page's content and including his own personal pieces five times in one month struck me as too much content determined by one person. My objections would be the same no matter who was editor of that page, if he awarded himself five personal essays in a month on the same page he edited.

Two of Mr. Gibson's "guest Commentaries" were book reviews. The SE runs a tepid book review page once a week, containing mostly wire-service book reviews plus a short but useful list of local book-and-author events. If Mr. Gibson's book review "guest commentaries" appeared on the book pages --- or, better, if he did a regular book review column there --- it would increase the local content of those pages significantly. I'd read them. [Hell, I read nearly all of his stuff as soon as it appears, except for what the SE, inexplicably stiffing its loyal subscribers, now wants me to pay a second subscription fee to see on line... the stuff in "Currents," e.g. Be a liberal day in Provo before that happens.]

Often Mr. Gibson's "guest commentaries" deal with Mormon matters, usually history. I think they're informative and I'm not LDS. The SE runs a Religion section each week. If Mr. Gibson wrote a "Mormon Matters" column there each week, that'd be fine with me.

The editorial page and op-ed pages are among the top pages read every issue. They are a public forum for the discussion of public affairs. And the SE has assembled an interesting stable of regular contributors --- the Top of Utah Voices writers. That's good. Very good, in fact. But the editor of that page should not regularly be among them, because he is the editor of that page.

If Mr. Gibson wants to do a twice-a-month regular column as editor that'd be ok too. Editors Howell and Greiling each do a twice-monthly column [but they don't put them on the editorial page.]

But frequent personal columns on the editorial page by the same person who edits that page, decides its content, writes most of the editorials, has his own blog on the paper's site and writes for the extort-our-subscribers "Currents" section as well seems to me to be putting too much influence in the hands of the editor of the pages on which nearly all of it appears.

I did not accuse Mr. Gibson of rejecting op-ed pieces in order to tilt the paper's ed page content in the direction of his own views. I didn't question his objectivity . I questioned his judgment in awarding himself op-ed slots as a "guest" commentator" on the page he edits.

No editor of the the paper's editorial pages should appear on the pages he edits frequently --- or at all --- as a "guest commentator."

RudiZink said...

Face it people. With the deterioration of the Print Media Model, local newspapers who'll survive will be forced to produce their own Editorials "in house."

In my view, Doug Gibson is doing a yeoman's job of that.

Stan B. said...

Maybe Gibson is so prolific at writing these pieces because he has lots of space to fill and few writers to choose from? He might just be a slave to those Suits of Sandusky who are too cheap to pay for more content so he has to produce it?

I have long thought that Curmudgeon himself ought to be writing a regular column in the Standard. If he did it would definitely raise the intellectual bar at the paper.

Curmudgeon said...

Rudi:

The SE has always produced its "own editorials in-house." Every daily I know of does. Op-eds are another matter.

George K. said...

Curmudgeon,

I did not state nor accuse you of saying that Mr. Gibson rejected op-ed pieces, I merely asked if you knew of any op-ed pieces that were withheld because you DID state that Mr. Gibson’s frequent op-ed pieces “diminishes opportunities for other voices and other points of view to appear.” I also suggested “that he wrote his articles to use space for which there was no other point of view or citizen letter.” In other words, they were fillers because there were not enough letters and op-eds by citizens to fill the pages for which he is responsible. Stan B. also thinks that this may be the reason for so many op-ed pieces.

As he is the editor of the editorial pages, it is his call as to what appears on them. As I stated above, he probably uses his op-ed pieces as fillers. I’m not sure to which “book reports” you are referring, but did he not offer his opinion on the books? In my opinion, his so-called book reports have to be better than some of the syndicated op ed pieces that appear. Maybe some of his op ed pieces should appear under the heading of “Our Opinion.” Just a game of semantics!

For your information the editorial board has a number of editorial pieces that appear in the paper, and they also edit and revise Mr. Gibson’s editorials. I feel that Mr. Gibson is doing a good job as editor of the editorial page, and I still maintain that most of the time his writings are a breath of fresh air compared to what we’ve endured for decades.

Curmudgeon said...

Stan:

Thank you. But I am not now nor have I ever been a journalist [outside of editing the sports pages of my college paper for a year].

The SE has gotten better about reader op-eds. Not too many years ago, it did not accept guest commentaries, unless it had solicited them, and now it does, with some frequency, when a reader gets a bee in his or her bonnet about something. I submitted one myself three or four years ago regarding a Council election, and the SE printed it.

So the opportunity is there for people who want to send in op-eds and have them printed. I imagine --- I hope --- whatever comes over the transom that way is reviewed to make sure it's understandable, reasonably well-composed, bears on some matter of public interest and is not abusive in tone or content [e.g. "Councilman Squitenditch is an incompetent lying miserable misbegotten son of a sea snake who couldn't find his posterior at high noon with both hands and a flashlight."] So far as I can see, Mr. Gibson does a generally good job of screening out intemperate incoherent rants.

So the opportunity, under the present editors of the SE, for reader contributions is there. Wide open. If occasional holes appear due to lack of reader contributions, and I'm sure that happens, filling in with national columnists from the news services the SE subscribes to would work. Not a perfect solution and local pieces would be better. But national commentaries would be, I think, preferable to pieces written by the editor of the pages on which they'd appear.

watch out for the commies said...

The only ones who dislike Doug Gibson's editorials are commies.

Consider the character of the complainers.

Curmudgeon said...

GK:

You wrote: "I feel that Mr. Gibson is doing a good job as editor of the editorial page," I agree. Except in re: his putting his own personal commentaries on the page he edits.

Look, GK, when I launch Curmudgeon's Ogden Daily Post Intelligencer & Price Current --- an event awaiting only my winning three straight Powerball mega-lotteries so I have a fighting chance of keeping it solvent for at least 18 months --- I'll want an ed page editor very like Mr. Gibson. Probably want one with more liberal leanings that Mr. Gibson has, but one who'd choose national commentaries from both sides of the political divide to appear in the paper [as Mr. Gibson does], one who wrote cogently and clearly so when he composed editorials there'd be no doubt in readers' minds where the paper stood on an issue [as Mr. Gibson does], one who was an avid reader beyond the public press [as Mr. Gibson is], and one who'd not balk at printing letters to the editor critical of the paper and even of his work as editor [as Mr. Gibson doesn't. After all, he approved printing my letter. I never doubted for a moment that he would.] So my ed page editor for Curmudgeon's Ogden Daily Post Inteligencer & Price Current would look [professionally speaking] much like Mr. Gibson.

But he would not be permitted to publish personal opinion pieces at "guest commentaries" on the page he edited. That's all and the sum of our disagreement on this, I think. Except of course for your puzzling belief that the SE was, editorially speaking, a liberal paper before Mr. Gibson's becoming ed page editor.

But that's another story....

Doug Gibson, Steve Stones said...

I have no problem with Bob's comments in the letter. I respect his opinion. I'm listed as a guest commentary mainly because an appropriate section is not listed. Perhaps we should add an "editor's column" section? I also welcome criticism as well as compliments, mainly because of the possibility there may be an equal or better argument that I have offered. As to too many columns/reviews, I like local offerings in the paper and prefer most wire opinion to be in our site's National Commentary, since everything we list is out there in online land somewhere.
Doug Gibson, S/E (signing in with his Plan9Crunch acct. These are not Steve Stones opinions)

Dan S. said...

In response to some of the questions and comments above, here are a few of my own experiences.

In general, the S-E has welcomed unsolicited guest commentaries for as long as I've lived in Ogden (17 years). I recall a memo that the WSU administration sent to all faculty, very soon after I arrived here, encouraging us to submit guest commentaries.

Over the last 12 years, I've submitted about ten guest commentaries to the S-E, and it has published all but four. The four rejections all occurred within the last three years: two related to the 2007 municipal election, one about the need for campaign finance reform in Ogden (attempting to break the news of how Envision Ogden had laundered money through FNURE), and one about Ogden's two-party political system. The first two rejections came from Don Porter, the third from Andy Howell, and the fourth from Doug Gibson.

I find it significant that all of my rejected commentaries have been about Ogden City politics. Although the editors have offered all sorts of explanations for the rejections, it's clear that they have no written rules on what to accept or reject. They're far more permissive with letters to the editor.

For the record, I agree with Mr. Becker's main point. Mr. Gibson has been giving himself too much space on the editorial pages, and he should try harder to fill more of that space with commentaries written by actual guests. I also wish Mr. Gibson would devote more of his energy to local issues and less to state and national issues. It's quite clear that Mr. Gibson would rather be working for a big city newspaper.

ozboy said...

Dan

It is my opinion that Gibson is an honest and very talented writer/editor who is unfortunate enough to be working for a hack organization that is under the thumb of a very corrupt city administration that holds an economic hammer over their heads vis-a-vis their realtor and biz cronies who advertise in said rag.

It is also well known that the Standard is economically beholden to the Godfreyites based on the sweet heart deal they got on unloading their old broken down and worn out plant and sliding on into their new modern multi million dollar digs. Every since those sleazy transactions of a few years ago the Standard has steadfastly refused to report the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about Godfrey and his cabal. Because of this they are equally guilty and responsible for the hundred or so million dollar mill stone the tax payers of Ogden have around their collective necks as a result of Godfrey's dishonesty and incompetence.

The Standard makes a mockery of the traditions and integrity of the fourth estate. They are a complete embarrassment to the long and glorious traditions of the news paper business.

Dan S. said...

Oz,

Although I don't know Mr. Gibson personally, I have met many other folks at the Standard-Examiner and I can't name even one who isn't mostly honest, most of the time. As I see it, the problem is the institution itself, not any particular individuals. Of course, the individuals (at least those who stay and become influential) are loyal to the institution so they sometimes bend their own principles for the benefit of the institution.

I'm not familiar with the details of the S-E's move to BDO, but even without that, I think we can find plenty of reasons why a small-town newspaper with a monopoly on the local news market would find it hard to criticize a powerful local politician who is strongly supported by the Realtors(C) association and the Chamber of Commerce.

ozboy said...

Dan

A brief outline of the Standard's move to BDO:

Standard was in their old plant on 23rd for around 50 years. It was formerly the armory for the Army reserve before they moved out to South Washington in South Ogden were they are now.

The building was pretty tired, worn out and cramped for the Standard.

The Standard and the city made a deal wherein the city would take ownership of the worn out old plant and install the Standard into their new multi million dollar digs at BDO which of course was city owned and controlled.

Can't remember the numbers involved, maybe it is part of the public record still. However, I do recall that it was an incredibly sweet deal for the Standard and they got into their new building for penny's on the dollar thanks to Ogden's ever so generous tax payers.

They have kissed Godfrey's butt every since.

googlegirl said...

Open Letter: "The Std-Ex RDA Fiction" - by Don Porter

Dan S. said...

oz and googlegirl,

Sounds like we'd need to know the fair market values of the old and new properties, at the time of the exchange, to determine whether the S-E got a sweetheart deal from the city. Until someone can provide those values (or reasonably accurate estimates with a documented basis), I guess I'm not interested in hearing more about this hypothesis.

Again, I think it's pretty easy to come up with other explanations for the S-E's treatment of the mayor.

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