Another back-room romance: government and local media

October 19, 2014

Shh-1“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” — Philosopher and linguist Noam Chomsky


It used to be that citizens who had the nerve to stand up to government officials got blowback only from arrogant politicians lacking the time, patience, and courtesy to listen their constituents — an ugly art form currently being advanced by San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Chair Bruce Gibson.

Now outspoken county residents have a different set of backbiting critics — local newspaper editors.

Newspapers traditionally have provided a voice for the oppressed, standing up for the little guy in the face of officialdom’s tyranny. In this funny little county, though, the print media has become entwined with the governing establishment to the point that both the daily and the weekly have shrunk into little more than cheerleaders for office holders and top bureaucrats.

Witness The Tribune’s vitriolic editorial assault several weeks ago on residents of Arroyo Grande who have been audaciously questioning the antics of their mayor, Tony Ferrara, and members of the city council over the Steve Adams- Teresa McClish fiasco.

And now the moribund New Times has chimed in with a Shredder column, penned, apparently, by the Queen of Mean, in which Arroyo Grande octogenarian Otis Page is taken to task for his comments during a council meeting.

First, a word or two about the Shredder. When the column was being written by the late Steve Moss, New Time’s founder and editor, it was a literary delight, and even while doling out its sharpest criticism remained ever clever, correct, courageous, and informative. Moss’s thought processes and descriptive abilities were so roundly developed that even his targets were often forced to laugh at themselves.

When Moss died in April 2005, Shredder should have been put to rest, also, and replaced with a newly-named column. Moss had a unique way of getting to the meat of local affairs, and his work was both widely read and praised. His kind of talent — writing with a velvet glove on one hand and a club in the other — is rare and original.

Such a retirement was suggested to New Times Publisher Bob Rucker, who promptly rejected the notion. The result ever since has been less than successful — it’s a tall task to replicate genius.

The Shredder attack on Page centered not on his comments to the Arroyo Grande Council, but on his personal thoughts regarding gays, which New Times published years ago. Apparently, to the Shredder’s thinking, Pages’ comments then negate his viewpoints now.

I imagine this kind of journalistic misconduct by local reporters and editors is partially caused by their belief that elected officials and high-level bureaucrats are celebrities of some sort, rather than a breed we need to closely monitor. As a young reporter, I felt that way, too — for about a month. And let’s not forget the attraction of ad revenues emanating from these government sources, which would surely dry up in the face of editorial criticism. It is clearly pandering.

As a people we should clamor for a free press that champions the righteous needs and desires of the populace, not of a transient band of government officials. Citizens shrink from the public eye when they are made the butt of editorial sniping by those very publications that are charged with the larger responsibility of representing the public.

It’s easy to see why the economy is not the only indicator of dying newspapers. I’m reminded of the comment by British writer Ferdinand Mount on the subject: “One of the unsung freedoms that go with a free press is the freedom not to read it.”

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Good, thought-provoking editorial. “Read between the lines and you will find the truth” (Paul Weller) is instructional, and that goes for all streams of information you will find in traditional media or on the internet. It is also true of the statements you hear from politicians.

The Tribune’s editorial staff failed its readers in its assessment of the July 3rd “incident” in Arroyo Grande on so many levels. I hope that The Tribune’s Management has taken time to reflect on that. Primarily, In late August, the editorial staff was advocating for a solution (just go along with the Mayor’s solution, “Why is Arroyo Grande Wasting Time?”) without considering all the facts (the city’s video, which their reporters hadn’t requested yet). It was obvious to me in August that nobody should care about the opinion of the Tribune, unless they can display an understanding of the facts (which at that time they were choosing to ignore).

Also, it is frustrating that The Trib would support Shoals in Grover Beach. That guy’s reality is warped by conflicts of interest, some of those conflicts are shared by the Trib i.e. PG&E and the Wallace Group, and the city already has a capable and accessible mayor in Debbie Peterson.

Don’t forget Shoal’s association with Ferrara.

Cozy little group…

Don’t forget that the Tribune was in cahoots with Covello and Shea in perpetrating and covering up their illegal attempted railroading of Dow.

Already getting excited to hear the Mayors run at the mouth at the next council meeting.

I’m wondering what format he will invent for the last meeting before Election Day.

Maybe he’s gonna finally throw Adams under the bus,

Maybe he will lose his cool with Carmel or Brown

Will Costello wake up or continue chomping his dentures?

I wish he would arrest Otis for asking him the all important question:

” Do you believe the police lied?”

We should ALL be asking what Otis has been asking all along,

he’s kept a laser focus on the real issue,


Good points made regarding the effects the loss of Steve Moss and I would add that the Tribune began an earlier decline when we lost its editor Jeff Fairbanks.

San Luis Obispo is a great county to live in, but its politics are as crooked as a dogs hind leg. Always has been, always will be, whether its Bruce Gibson or Carl Hysen running the board. At least in the old days the newspaper tried to hold them accountable. Today they are little more than acomplices.

The loss of Fairbanks is felt every day when the paper comes off the press.

No surprise here. This started on a national level of news back in the early eighties and has been down hill ever since. Now it is getting to the local level. Journalist are so in bed with politics these days and they have ZERO objectivity!!!

Isn’t ir funny how New Times has used Mr. Page for their own convenience.

In their June 2001 cover article titled: “Who let the dogs out? Meet five community watchdogs who keep government honest” Page was featured along with Bill Denneen and others from around the county.

New Times extolled the benefit the community derives from citizens who regularly question local government. In fact at the top of the cover article, it states: ” This isn’t their job. they don’t get paid, and very often they are criticized for their efforts while being labeled a ‘radical’ or ‘troublemaker’. But they persist. And secretly, we admire them. Why? Because we need them. And they do what we don’t have the stamina, the guts, or perhaps the time to do our selves.”

New Times could not have said it better.

So hats off to you Mr.Page!.

Great connection!

Yes, indeed, the shredder demonstrates very well “the ethics of convenience.”

The ethics of convenience, sounds like the problem we’re having in AG with our Mayor and council.

I believe the Shredder just got shredded.

By less than 4% of SLO County residents?

Amen to that, cowtipper. What’s next for these fringers, eating their young?

The only thing good about the current New Times is that its FREE, its kindling for my wood stove, and it helps fill up my recycling bin.

Things have certainly changed since I was an enthusiastic young journalist. Back then editors and publishers had come up through the ranks and everything was about getting the story and getting it right. There were no sacred cows and no pandering or targeting demographics. Change is generally good but maybe not so much when it comes to where we get our news. It’s kind of sad for me personally that there are few vestiges of my old profession remaining.

When Steve Moss died it was so apparent that his replacement was such a boob, his piece was not worthy of a second look. I don’t even read the 1st line, knowing his dribble is a colossal waste of time. The rest of the paper is O.K.

The Tribune, KSBY – all a bunch of political power cheerleaders. No real teeth or critical reporting of politicians or politically correct causes. It’s no different in most other towns. The media and Government feed on each other, one to sell stories, the other to sell their pathetic ego’s.

get real not shedder is not the same, but writing is good even so

just because you don’t agree does not make ir legitamate


My my lay off the stuff buddy. It makes typing so much easier.

And what was that you just posted?

I didn’t understand it either.