Quick Links for July 21st

The heat may be melting my brain, but there’s still enough grey matter left to crank out some long overdue Quick Links!

The Record is biased against accusations of bias!

If you haven’t checked out Mike Klocke’s live chat from last Thursday you should, if only to see which member of Styx he attributes most of their success to (I ask the hard-hitting questions). The chat went about how I expected it to with most people asking why certain stories/beats get covered more than other “positive” news while others hurled blind accusations of a liberal skew. These people are fucking idiots. Ok, maybe idiots is too strong of a word, rubes seems better.

The idea that newspapers lean to the left isn’t a new notion, many journalists admittedly have liberal tendencies, but to accuse those journalists of allowing their political preference to bleed into their work is downright insulting (so yeah, scratch being nice, those people are fucking idiots). Does it happen? Absolutely, but not here. Trust me. I read the Record more than half the people accusing them of bias combined. I comb the thing daily with a critical eye, ready to take them to task for any perceived bias. Guess what? Their news coverage is pretty solid.

Do they get a little overzealous in covering stories like Sandra Cantu sometimes? You bet. But they don’t really push one political party over the other. Hell, the most recent one-sided transgression I can think of is when seemingly everybody was against the coming Prison Hospital. Even then, the straight news coverage was even stevens, it was the opinion pieces that I took issue with. I should note that I’m excluding Mike Fitzgerald’s love affair with Paragary’s mostly because that was just Fitzy being Fitzy, but having him cover its sale was kind of fishy no matter how many time Fitz tells me columnists can break news.

So, if the Record’s firmly in the middle, why did seemingly everybody in Klocke’s live chat think they were a bunch of dirty hippies? There’s three oversimplified reasons. One, partisan politics has become so polarizing to the point where it’s an “us or them” climate. Just look at any 24-hour TV news network, you can probably name which ones slant democrat or republican off the top of your head with most of the conservative leaning stations complaining about the “liberal media elite” ad nauseum. The second part is we live in a conservative county that watches those stations. And third, the Record endorsed Barack Obama in the last Presidential election.

That third one just seems downright retarded given that it was the first time the Record had endorsed a democratic presidential candidate in 70 years (not to mention Record Publisher Roger Coover is very much a conservative), but that seems to be enough for some people. One person even asked why newspapers even endorse candidates/propositions out of fear of losing readers and that was incredibly telling.

Newspapers should not print news stories based on what their readers want to know, that’s what boring feature pieces are for, they print stories based on what they need to know. And people don’t like being told what they need. They become skeptical of what they’re being told, especially when they don’t agree with it. While a nice dose of skepticism towards the media is healthy, it can be taken too far.

The Record shouldn’t change its coverage to be more agreeable with its audience. They should only be concerned with reporting the important news. If you want to read more about positive SUSD stories, read the SUSD newsletter. That thing is full of dry PR stories that roughly 1% of the population cares about. If the stories the Record prints are too negative for you, than please, go pick up a copy of Highlights for Children and read about Goofus and Gallant’s latest exploits. Us adults will be reading about what went on yesterday while you try and color within the lines in your safe little bubble.

I hate defending The Record as much as the next guy, Lord knows they’re nowhere near perfect, but criticize them for the right reasons. Take it from a guy who has made it his personal hobby to publicly criticize the crazy shit that goes on in this town, if the Record really had a steady history of blatant bias I’d be posting more than once a week. The Record’s not liberal, it’s not conservative, it’s not anything. It’s a newspaper, it reports the news. If you don’t like the news in there then go read a magazine, they even have special niche ones that cater especially to you. Or you could always e-mail me an angry rant about whatever issue you have with the Record, I could use the help.

Don’t let 4chan win

Speaking of things we’ve criticized the Record for, Sandra Cantu’s autopsy is still sealed and now her aunt testified before a state senate committee to enact a blanket seal of all autopsies for murdered children. While I can understand the pain of the victims parents and have outright said Cantu’s autopsy details shouldn’t be pursued because they’re not newsworthy, this blatant attempt to limit a basic freedom guaranteed by the constitution can’t stand.

While Cantu’s autopsy probably wasn’t going to reveal anything important we didn’t already know, the press needs to autopsies of numerous other young murder victims to fully and comprehensively do their jobs. To limit a journalists ability to do that because of a fear that those public record pictures will be made into an LOLCats! pic for shock value on some immature message board would only vindicate those internet trolls. They want the shock value, they want a reaction, any reaction. Internet trolls are the terrorists of the internet, enacting laws specifically because of their actions is like sex for them (or at least what those nerds assume sex would be like). If this law passes, the internet terrorists will have won, and then they’ll go to the 49 other states to get disgusting pictures of mutilated bodies. And a bunch of people who would have used that information correctly and were probably instrumental in helping locate the body/killer suffer, all because of some assholes on a message board. God damn the internet.

Redevelopment fail!

Hey, remember when I said Downtown Stockton isn’t ready for the step where they try and entice people to live downtown because everything besides a handful of bars and the movie theater closes at 6:30? You’ll never guess which step the City said downtown was at last night! Yup, enticing residents to move downtown.

As I said in that previously linked post, I would love to live downtown. All of my favorite bars are down there, nearly every City-sponsored event happens down there (Goodbye $5 parking!), and the buildings are beautiful (during the day, during the night it can admittedly get kind of creepy). But then I think about this weekend when I needed some milk at around 8:30, so I threw on some pants and walked half a block to the Dollar Tree (yes, they have milk). I couldn’t do that downtown because the nearest convenience store has been closed for at least 2 hours.

We’ve been over this before though, there’s nothing really the City can do about that. They can decide what the focus of downtown redevelopment should be and last night they decided to focus on the core of Downtown Stockton, the area around the movie. I have mixed feelings on this. On one hand, one of downtown’s problems is the fact that redevelopment has only really taken to about one block of downtown, the area around the movie theater. Sure, there’s the newish RTD center and the County building is…interesting-looking, but there are long, vacant stretches of buildings between downtown’s “core” and the Chase building (which will eventually become City Hall). Anything east of the “core” looks pretty shady at night. You ever try and talk a girl into checking out O’Ryleigh’s? Yeah, it’s kind of hard to do when you have to constantly assure them no hobo is going to jump out of a building that looks like it’s been unoccupied since they filmed Fat City and try and rape them or something.

On the other hand, that shit costs money, money we don’t have much of. It’s much more cost-effective to continue improving what has worked in order to attract more people and their money, which would eventually fund redevelopment expansion. Plus, as a city we’ve been bitching for a decade about how the City took on too much redevelopment at once by building multiple top notch facilities in such a short time span. To say they should continue sprawling east into unproven territory in a down market would be hypocritical. It absolutely needs to happen. Downtown revitalization will never be completed if limited to what it is now, but we need to take baby steps. We’re not at the enticing people to live downtown part yet. We’re at the enticing businesses that entice people to live downtown step. So far businesses are only drawing people to visit downtown, not stay. Until I can buy a pack of smokes somewhere reasonably close to downtown’s core, I’ll refrain from adding my name to the downtown resident waiting list.

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~ by Slick Diaz on July 21, 2010.

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