Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Friday, September 01, 2006

Credibility of TKA's Argument Slim

I couldn't have said it better -- worthy of a thread, here's Eckermann's take on today's editorial.
Today's editorial in the News-Press once again fails to convince by violating the basic requirements of 7th grade essay writing. Mr. Armstrong presents a thesis but then fails to provide any examples to prove his point. His one quasi-example includes the results of a national poll that shows that people generally believe there is bias in all newsrooms in the nation; but he does not relate the poll to the News-Press newsroom with any concrete facts. Following his logic, the newsroom staff of every newspaper in the nation should be fired (or at least hounded from their jobs).

It would have been so easy for Mr. Armstrong to make a coherant argument. All he had to do was state his thesis about alleged newsroom bias then provide two or three quotes from past articles that illustrate bias. Instead, allegations are made but no proof is given. We can only conclude that either Mr. Armstrong flunked 7th grade English or he has no evidence to support his thesis. In either case, his credibility as a writer and editor suffers.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice analysis, but whothuhell is Eckermann?

9/01/2006 10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, in the 9/1/06 editorial, the writer refers to a poll commissioned by the News-Press or News-Press readers, not a national poll. If you think it was a national poll, you might state the basis for your view. If you distrust the writer's claim - I generally do distrust NP management - you might state a factual basis for distrusting that particular claim.

9/01/2006 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Valerio said...

The editorial today was just a preview for the higher ratings supposedly on Sunday. This also gives the editorialer time to make up something between now and when it goes to press Saturday night. Sqeezing blood from a turnip takes a couple of days after Roberts and his lawyers just won a skirmish.

What credibility remains to suffer any further?

9/01/2006 10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A poll is not worth a damn unless the actual raw results are published as well, in addition to the actual questions and who the targets of the polling were. The newspress editorial today is the second time this mystery poll was mentioned, with no facts to support the purported conclusions.

Is that why people call him "Factswrong?"

9/01/2006 11:04 AM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

Anon. 10:54 is correct. I rememberd that aspect of the the editorial incorrectly. Looking at it again, it see that it refers to a poll commissioned by the News-Press. However, not very many specifics were given about the (e.g., the number of those polled, the specific questions asked, the % error, ect.). Also, the poll simply says that "readers" believed there was bias, it is not proof that bias existed. I apologize for my error. However, my conclusion remains the same: The essay does not present concrete examples to prove its thesis.

9/01/2006 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Travisty said...

I need some more wine and a late-night drive around town, and then I will think of something to support my thesis about the bias.

One tirade at a time, one at a time....

9/01/2006 12:49 PM  
Anonymous philosoph said...

Were the reporters and editors of the News-Press apprised of the survey findings when they were released? The editorial says the survey was done last year, which should have given the offending journalists time to atone for their sins rather than face McCaw's firing squad. I can understand the concern over the findings - any business should be alarmed when 64 percent of its customers distrust its product - but this isn't new information.

McCaw should have called in all the reporters and editors for a meeting to explain the findings and show them how to improve. Instead, she allowed the situation to reach a boiling point and by then it was too late to salvage anything.

Contrast that with the respected former editor of the Los Angeles Times, John Carroll, who admonished his staff against bias in a May 2003 staff memo. Carroll cites specific examples in his memo and had the good management sense to confront the bias issue before it ran amok.

There's no evidence that anyone at the News-Press did this. If McCaw communicated her concerns in private to Jerry Roberts and he refused to do anything, he probably deserved to lose his job. However, we don't know this to be the case. There's a lot we don't know about the events leading up to the July meltdown.

9/01/2006 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Travisty said...

Actually, I do not know of any real bias with the former Executive Editor or the senior reporters who left the newspaper. I just made up the "bias" criticism fast and furious because I heard that the anonymous critics who want journalistic integrity started using the phrase "ban the bias" in their public relations and signs. I just wanted to beat them in the battle of sound bites.

I really have no idea what past bias may have existed, but after a bottle or three of wine tonight (starting at 3 PM) I will make up something and pretent it is true! That always has worked for me before. Our subscriptions are so bad during the past month, we will print anything just to get attention.

9/01/2006 2:44 PM  
Blogger harping said...

RE philosoph's comment "If McCaw communicated her concerns in private to Jerry Roberts and he refused to do anything, he probably deserved to lose his job."
Please remember Roberts didn't "lose his job"--he resigned & gave 30 days notice, a fact which keeps getting lost in the shuffle. Unlike his employers, he behaved like a professional & for that he was immediately escorted off the premises like a criminal. This mysterious "poll" that has been mentioned is nothing but a smokescreen that seems to be a feeble attempt to distract readers from the increasingly evident downward spiral of the N-P.

9/01/2006 3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, all of us at the NP were all called in to hear about the survey results, which encompassed many items regarding readers' views and perceptions of the NP, not just the one about bias. Previously we had been given the survey to take ourselves to gage our own perceptions, but our results weren't pooled in with readers'.
Jerry Roberts went over the results in the session I was at, late last year, November I think. A long survey, lots of results to discuss. There was plenty of consternation about that item on bias -- I don't remember the exact figure but it was high, and probably what today's editorial says it was.
Of course, it comes without context. How are stories biased, which stories, by certain reporters? A lot of people are predisposed to think of most media as biased, depending on their own frame of reference. On the national level we're corporate lackeys, or Bush apologists, or we hate America, etc., etc. Locally too, and Travis is obviously playing that card. Trying to portray departed and current employees as in the pockets of sinister pro-development interests, and that's absurd if you know anything about the situation, but for those who don't -- it's a card he can play.
But no, I don't know what bias the 60-some percent of readers is perceiving, many perceptions are undoubtedly at play, and perhaps a few knee-jerk reactions.
There's a saying, half joke, if you're a reporter and everybody's a little unhappy with you (ie, it's spread evenly), then you're doing a good job!

9/01/2006 3:37 PM  
Anonymous Alice in Wonderland said...

Eckermann, wake up; here are just a few examples of "bias" that armstrong could have cited to support his thesis sentence:

--having armstrong call the shots on both the opinion and news pages, in the summer and even now from what's reported.

--killing his DUI sentencing story.

--killing the story about the editors walking out.

--killing the Carp councilwoman story.

--killing the story Kogan wrote about the $500,000 McCaw lawsuit against the journalist.

--reprimanding editors and reporters for reporting an address in a land use story.

--killing letter after letter to the editor.

--with a food writer with no management qualifications suddently promoted to publisher, suddently featuring basil, cigars and polo on the front page.

--pulling five community columnists and Starshine, not to mention running off Barney, and substituting Dr. Laura's yatching news and intolerant right wing rants.

--running the same editorials about the same tired topics over and over.

--pressuring the the new young pups to write stories slanted towards both the hard right and the upper class pesto, by hiring new security and a private investigator.

This is what McCaw and her boyfriend consider being "good stewards of an institution that has been part of Santa Barbara since the 1800s"?

The editorial is right--there is bias in the newsroom, and it needs banishing.

9/01/2006 3:49 PM  
Anonymous Friend of Truth said...

If that large survey exists, then all the data and questions should be provided a separate report, including what population was surveyed.

And any "scientific poll" to mean anything must include a comparison with a reference population, with a question about whether Newspress is any more "biased" than eny other news outlet.

If the targeted population thinks 60% of the Newspress writers are biased, but 80% of Los Angeles Times or Independent (or whatever) writers are biased, then that is a much different story and conclusion, as well as a correlation with what the polled audience already knows about any of these newspapers. This "poll" needs a very thorough disclosure about what it was and asked to whom; anything else is male bovine feces promulgated by a poultry-guano writer groping for any justification except the obvious source of the Newspress cancer.

This is all like the Bushies continually making up new reasons and revising history about why the invasion and occupation of Iraq remains their goal.

9/01/2006 5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One place filled with the younger demographic is Isla Vista. The reporting of the News-Press on Isla Vista has been considered to be heavily biased by IV residents for as long as I can remember (20+ years).

A few times the Daily Nexus has lampooned the News-Press on its April 1 issue.

There is a long list of examples: reporting during the Attias case, offhand comments by Morgan Green in her articles, and really silly articles about move-out that neglected the efforts to clean the streets and sell stuff at the GIVE sale in the Summer.

The only News-Presser who had an inkling about IV was Barney.

9/01/2006 5:33 PM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

Ah, Alice in Wonderland, yes you are right, Mr. Armstong could have used any or all of those examples to illustrate bias at the News-Press. But, alas, he did not, leaving his essay bereft of proof. Perhaps, as your irony suggests, those were not exactly the points he was trying to make.

9/01/2006 8:01 PM  
Blogger tech98 said...

I'd love to see a survey on the perceived credibility of the News-Press now versus last year.

That would never see the light of day in Spendy and Waterboy's country club newsletter.

9/02/2006 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen the poll?

Has anyone asked the SBNP to release it to the public?

9/11/2006 6:53 PM  

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