Thursday, July 29, 2010

Standard Examiner Editorial: Newspaper Exposed High Salaries in One California City

Does this morning's editorial send a subtle signal that the Standard-Examiner will be turning over a new leaf?
What happened in the small, working-class Los Angeles suburb of Bell... is a lesson in the power of the press and how the lack of a local, daily newspaper with strong reporting resources helps unethical and corrupt public officials to escape detection...
We wonder, though, how many other public officials are behaving outrageously without an adequate press to keep note?

Standard-Examiner Editorial
OUR VIEW: Newspaper exposed high salaries
July 29, 2010

Before 2007, the Standard-Examiner printed every guest commentary I submitted (I think there were about four). Yet during the last three years I’ve submitted seven guest commentaries, and they’ve rejected all but two. The two that they printed steered clear of any direct statements about Mayor Godfrey; the five that they rejected all pointed out facts about the mayor that the Standard-Examiner has downplayed or ignored.

Weber County Forum
Ogden Administration Uses Tax Dollars to Deceive Citizens
July 27, 2010


On the heels of Tuesday's scathing Dan Schroeder piece, the Standard-Examiner follows up this morning with this elegantly timed editorial, slapping the Los Angeles Times on the back for exposing the government corruption in one California city:
OUR VIEW: Newspaper exposed high salaries
We're not quite sure how to interpret the timing of this. An oblique mea culpa, perhaps?

Does this morning's editorial send a subtle signal that the Standard-Examiner will be turning over a new leaf? Will the Standard-Examiner henceforth devote its own strong reporting resources to detecting and reporting government corruption in Emerald City?

11 comments:

althepal said...

The SE needs to do some genuine soul searching, to decide whether it will be either a cheerleader for the Godfrey Administration, or a real newspaper.

OgdenLover said...

Shirley, you just! The SE has no trouble pointing out motes in other cities' eyes while ignoring the plank in Ogden's.
While they may sometimes be drawing an unwritten parallel between the situation elsewhere and in Ogden, I don't think that's the case here.
I see editorials like this as a space filler, helping them avoiding having to write about what's going on in our own City Hall.

Curmudgeon said...

I found two things particularly interesting in all this, one in the editorial and one in Mr. Gibson's explanation of why the SE turned down Dan's most recent guest commentary.

First, the LA Times did its digging via California's version of Utah's GRAMA law, which gives anyone --- even newspapers! --- the power to extract from officials public documents they would much prefer not be made public. The SE has used the GRAMA law occasionally in the past, but infrequently. Perhaps it will learn from the LA Times what a good investigative tool it can be and use it more in the future. We can only hope....

Second, I noted Mr. Gibson's claim that Dan's commentary was old news in part because he, Dan, had dealt with the matter some time ago on his [Dan's] blog site. Huh? Is the SE really arguing that it has farmed out its reporting responsibilities to independent bloggers, who, if they cover a story on their blogs, remove the SE's need to cover that for its readers?

Mr. Gibson can not possibly have been suggesting that.

Could he?

Dan S. said...

Cross-posted from the S-E comment page:

Ah, the irony. Please tell us, Mr. Gibson and Mr. Howell, when was the last time the S-E uncovered a story about corruption in local government through investigative journalism?

Sure, the S-E does some good reporting, but you’ve missed more scandals than you’ve covered. And when you do report on a local government scandal, you inexplicably drop the story before the juiciest parts are told (e.g., American Can Building, Envision Ogden).

Even when a volunteer does your work for you, submitting a guest commentary that connects the unconnected dots, and has the documentation to back up every claim, you refuse to print it.

I often wonder whether our local governments would be held more accountable without the S-E. Then the Trib would have room to expand back into Weber County, which it abandoned a few years ago. At least the Trib operates UtahsRight.com, allowing us all to look up public officials’ salaries without having to submit formal records requests. Notice that the Bell, CA story was uncovered by a big metropolitan newspaper, not a neighborhood advertising circular. Notice also that the S-E has now devoted more space to the Bell story than (for example) to the sources of Mayor Godfrey’s campaign contributions, or to the Ogden Community Foundation.

SAC Cancelled said...

"...neighborhood advertising circular..."

Snicker.

Oh My... said...

If anyone needed a classic example for the word hypocrasy, the final paragraph of todays SE Editorial would fill the bill.

"We wonder, though, how many other public officials....without an adequate press to keep note?"

Obviously the SE Editorial staff have more balls than good sense but then, what else is new!

Ogden Okie said...

"We wonder, though, how many other public officials....without an adequate press to keep note?"

No doubt about it. If the Standard expects to survive as a "real newspaper", it's time, as my sainted pioneer grandmother used to say:

"Either s**t, or get off the pot"

Tiny Britches said...

I will remind you of what happens when a reporter or the paper gets too close to the power structure.

Marshall Thompson was an energetic and honest reporter, but when he reported the truth about the Jamie Lythgoe conflict of interest regarding Powder Mountain, he was criticized by the Weber County Commissioners ( by the current incumbents) for doing the story and withing a few weeks, he was gone from the paper.

blackrulon said...

The only reason for the S-E editorial is to create an alternative universe. The S-E can cvlaim how important newspapers are in finding out the truth without doing it themselves. Most subscribers rely on the paper for information about local events and people. By praising the LA Times the local paper hopes to get some reflected glory without doing any real reporting. Because the local paper does not report on any legal or ethical questions surrounding Matthew Godfrey most readers assume that there is no problem. The S-E gets to look like a watchdog while actually being a lapdog.

Monotreme said...

Irony is dead.

ozboy said...

"The S-E gets to look like a watchdog while actually being a lapdog."

When it comes to the embarrassing rag called the Standard that pretty much says it all Blackrulon!

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