Saturday, August 18, 2007

New Haven Advocate - Slant, Bias & Deception

I just finished reading the current issue of the New Haven Advocate, and I had to post something about it or I was going to crack a tooth from grinding my jaw so hard.

Now, keep in mind that the paper has always been a pretty liberal publication. While they've poked fun at all sorts of people, they tended to pretty much toe the left-wing line.

But the current issue has a whole spread on the flap over New Haven handing out municipal ID cards to everyone, including illegal aliens, complete with the life stories of a handful of the people scooped up in the infamous immigration raids in the Elm City recently.

I read the article (and you should, too) and it wasn't bad. I mean, once you put aside the whole concept of immigration policy, these are OK people with some heavy issues. (Unfortunately, once you put aside the concept of thievery, people who steal are OK, too.)

The argument over illegal immigration is a classic example of how liberals argue -- they ignore the basic fact that makes their argument moot (that someone is here illegally), and then they can portray that person as a victim of unsympathetic hatemongers (e.g., conservatives).

But that's not even what irked me -- I knew what to expect before I opened the paper.

No, what got my goat was the alleged reprints of angry e-mails city aldermen had supposedly received from around the country, bashing New Haven and its municipal ID program. It would have been amusing, because some of the people that sent these e-mails must be total mouth-breathers, but it irked me because it was a sly way of accusing anyone who disagrees with the liberal stance of being among those loons.

The whole idea of a newspaper is to present all views so your readers can make informed decisions, and I suppose technically the Advocate did that -- only they cherry-picked the most moronic folks they could find to represent the opposition, slanting the "news" and making their agenda seen like the only real intelligent view.

I'm not a moron, or a redneck, or a hatemonger or Klansman, yet I don't support unlawful behavior -- but you would think after reading the Advocate that the only smart people in the state are the ones that subscribe wholeheartedly to the liberal agenda. (Funny, though, that Democrat DeStefano lost the gubernatorial election by such a huge margin to a Republican -- which I guess proves that (a) at least us rednecks can figure out how to get to a voting booth on Election Day and (b) courting people who can't legally vote isn't a great political plan.)

Anyway, back to the bias ... I've seen it all too often before among liberal outlets, so I'm not surprised, but still ticked off.

The Advocate bills itself as a "News & Arts Weekly" -- well, this week it's a "New & Arts Weekly" thanks to some crack editing -- but editorialized slant pieces are not news.

It makes me especially sad because the editor of the Advocate is a former co-worker of mine, and one of the better reporters I have known in my 10 years as a newsperson.

I guess I expected him to lead the paper in a new direction, one of debate and information.

I guess I was wrong.

3 comments:

Andy said...

As said editor the blogger refers to, I must take issue with this post. I will not waste time addressing every weakly argued assertion, except to make this point: The blogger infers that our story lacked news gathering, yet it was (by my estimation) the most comprehensive source of actual reported information and stories on the 32 immigrants arrested in the local news media. Kudos to the Register, and particularly Mary O'Leary, for doing some great reporting as this story unfolded and interviewing a lot of the same immigrants the Advocate did. I believe, however, that our issue was more complete and more comprehensive than in any other news source. That's not bragging, that's just the nature of news weeklies. We have more time to put together these projects because we are not beholden to daily deadlines.
There was little, if any, editorializing in the piece, as the blogger suggests. Read it again. And the suggestion that the "alleged" hate emails sent to aldermen were fake or phony is just bizarre. We gathered these emails (over 100 of them actually) through proper means, and selected ones for publication that drove home the point of hate mail. Each one was verified through the recipient. The writers' last names were omitted at our discretion.
If the blogger had bothered to contact us for comment before posting this blog, he would have known this. For the record, the Advocate makes efforts to contact the Register's editors each and every time we reference the paper in print or online. We were not paid the same courtesy in this case. I am sorry to see the blogger judging our entire editorial leadership or worth on one article he obviously disliked.

Andy said...

As the editor the blogger refers to, I must take issue with this post. I will not waste time addressing every weakly argued assertion, except to make this point: The blogger infers that our story lacked news gathering, yet it was (by my estimation) the most comprehensive source of actual reported information and stories on the 32 immigrants arrested in the local news media. Kudos to the Register, and particularly Mary O'Leary, for doing some great reporting as this story unfolded and interviewing a lot of the same immigrants the Advocate did. I believe, however, that our issue was more complete and more comprehensive than in any other news source. That's not bragging, that's just the nature of news weeklies. We have more time to put together these projects because we are not beholden to daily deadlines.
There was little, if any, editorializing in the piece, as the blogger suggests. Read it again. And the suggestion that the "alleged" hate emails sent to aldermen were fake or phony is just bizarre. We gathered these emails (over 100 of them actually) and selected ones for publication that showed the most vitriol, humor and outrageousness. Each one was verified through the recipient. The writers' last names were omitted at our discretion.
If the blogger had bothered to contact us for comment before posting this blog, he would have known this. For the record, the Advocate makes efforts to contact the Register's editors each and every time we reference the paper in print or online. We were not paid the same courtesy in this case. I am sorry to see the blogger judging our entire editorial leadership or worth on one article he obviously disliked.

Al said...

Hi Andy. I appreciate the response, but I don't think it really addressed the point of my post.
I didn't say the Advocate didn't gather information, or that it made up what it printed -- my point was that the choice of what to print, what not to print, and how to present it are all ways to slant news while remaining technically accurate. Far too many organizations do it.
Yes, your article was very well written and comprehensive -- about one side of a multifaceted debate. That's not really comprehensive.
For example, you say, "We gathered these emails (over 100 of them actually) through proper means, and selected ones for publication that drove home the point of hate mail."
Exactly. You "selected" the ones that best "drove home the point" the paper wanted to make - it wasn't an objective sampling of what people are saying to the city lawmakers, it was strict manipulation of information to lead the reader, presenting opposition to the stance of the city and the paper as nothing more than hatred and bigotry. The reader is left to believe no one is or can be opposed to illegal immigration, or in support of immigration law enforcement, without being hateful or ignorant. There were no letters opposing the city's stance that were intelligent and reasonable?
I said "alleged" in reference to the e-mails as a qualifier, solely because I personally do not know whether they were real -- and from your response neither do you. Each one being "verified through the recipient" doesn't mean much; If you're going to print it it should be verified through the sender.
As for editorializing ... the whole piece was editoralizing purely because of what was presented and how. The whole thing is geared toward garnering sympathy for the detained and their families, from "federal immigration officers crept into New Haven" (Did they really creep in? Or did they just arrive?) to calling the folks "undocumented immigrants" (We had this same discussion at the Register, trying to find a term to use to refer to illegal aliens without using the term "illegal aliens." We had some that preferred that term, and others who were happy to simply refer to them as "immigrants." It was decided we'd use "illegal immigrants," because some felt that "aliens" was somehow not very nice, but to others, removing the word "illegal" seemed wrong. It is wrong; Just because someone doesn't like the fact that it is illegal, or doesn't think it should be illegal, doesn't make it not illegal.
I mean, the story itself was good reading, but only about that one side of the issue.
All the sympathetic stories in the world don't negate the fact that the raid was an enforcement of a federal law -- laws that DeStefano made it clear the city would not help the feds do -- and he's said it's the feds' job, so they did it.
It may not have been pleasant, but it wasn't completely without warrant.
Honestly, I didn't contact the paper for a comment because I didin't feel I needed one -- my opinion of the piece was based on the piece, and the history the Advocate has for being a liberal-leaning publication.
Are you really going to tell me it's not?