Is journalism dead in SLO County?

July 26, 2016
Dr. C. Hite

Dr. C. Hite

Opinion by Dr. C. Hite

I knew journalism was dead in SLO County the day the Tribune published a meandering feature story on the front page that morphed into speculation and innuendo. This was not news.

There was a time when journalistic ethics dictated that straight news went on the front page with feature stories, weather, sports on following pages and editorial opinion only on the editorial page. Every news source has a right to set their own editorial policy but now we have biased, manipulative, somewhat news worthy human interest stories all over the pages and written in conversational style.

A local computer major issuing a bomb threat on a crowded city bus and then being released from custody, without charge, did not make the national news. A finger tip in a salad at Applebee’s Restaurant did.

Local law enforcement having the foresight to shoot an aggressive suspect in the leg, instead of killing him, did not make the national news. Former Sheriff Pat Hedges best red-neck imitation that persons going into a legal medical marijuana dispensary did not look all that disabled, did make national news in an expose on medical marijuana.

When I think back on the parade of scandals that get written up by our civil Grand Jury and mentioned before the SLO County Board of Supervisors, I wonder what the county would be like if people were not willing to speak up.

Today I wonder what SLO County would be like without Cal Coast News.

Years ago, I went searching for Karen Velie and was surprised at what I found. I conducted an internet search, just as I would for a juror for a professional art show. I looked to see if the subject had a high internet presence, if they self promote or if they have a critic who promotes them instead.

I made this search because my ride asked if I wanted to go into the board of supervisors early one Tuesday to attend a rally for Velie. I only had to hear the words “social services” and “children” to know that Velie was in serious trouble.

All of our local social services scandals that have been printed in the main stream news and paraded before the county board of supervisors tend to go in one ear and out the other of the general public. As a public advocate, I can rattle them off in order:

1) Social services found to have mishandled over 70 percent of their cases involving children.

2) Over 70 percent of eligible families not receiving food stamps.

3) DSS almost losing their food stamp grant.

4) The county suing itself to get ahead of a rampant sexual harassment problem in social services.

5) Employee embezzlement of funds meant to help mothers move to protect their children from violent and sexual predators.

6) Foster children being placed with child abusers, resulting in death.

7) Local Adult Protective Services failing to protect a dependent adult, resulting in death,

8) The emancipation of foster children to the streets without transitional services.

The day of the rally for  Velie’s grandchildren, I had a pointed historical reminder for the board of supervisors and since neither DSS Director Lee Collins nor acting Chair Bruce Gibson could read my mind, neither could squelch my public comment on the subject, although they tried.

There were persons wishing to speak at the board of supervisors with first hand knowledge of the this case and other child services cases handled by local DSS. I knew the most risky and brave thing a person could do was go public about Child Protective Services, which Velie did. But before I attended a rally in support of Velie, I decided to research and come to my own conclusions about who that person was. I was not reading my news on the internet and did not resort to just googling CCN to form an opinion.

When I googled Karen Velie, many search results popped up and I began opening them. I was embarrassed and quickly closed windows, grasping that some very emotional, insecure guy had really been hurt by Velie, like an ex-boyfriend hangs onto hurt and they just won’t let it go. Only rejection causes this kind of personal hurt and there was more than one website where the owner felt rejected.

In seconds I could asses the site owner was vehement about his hatred for Karen Velie and there seemed to be more than one obsessed with her. Don’t these people know you don’t put slander into permanent print where you can be sued? I thought to myself, disturbed by the rantings of what seemed to be disturbed persons. What disturbed them? I wondered.

Anyone within the realm of “normal” does not have that kind of emotional energy and spare personal time to devote to pure unrelenting hatred of a single individual.

I didn’t take the time to see who was responsible for the websites attacking Velie and also CalCoastNews. It was just too uncomfortable, and I knew all I had to know in a glance.

The attacks were malicious. Then an interesting ‘boyfriend betrayed’ Shredder popped up from New Times, which was humorous considering the historical context. The article bemoaned Velie, her journalism style, that she used to work for New Times, and that her publication about SLO County Administrator David Edge was premature and unfounded.

Knowing that David Edge was fired amid the scandal, I came to two conclusions; Velie had good sources and she was resented. I wanted to know if the resentment was in any way justified.

I almost gave up on my search, but persisted opening internet windows and then I found it; Velie is credentialed, she studied journalism at Cal Poly. Just some simple facts far down the list of subjective criticism. Anyone who doesn’t like “journalist’s” or recognize that studying journalism at Cal Poly is significant to being a good reporter is someone who doesn’t like math scholars because they don’t like fractions; it makes them feel stupid.

When you can separate fact from bias, life becomes a whole lot simpler when it comes to assessing information and making decisions. Facts cannot be dismissed and being able to separate fact from bias, when no one does, can also be a curse. However, not all people who study journalism are able to separate themselves from their own personal bias.

After finding Velie’s qualifications, I googled CalCoastNews to analyze news stories for bias and unprofessionalism. I didn’t find it. There seemed to be a slant against law enforcement, based on the number of expose’s that were published. If there was a slant, I was certain a story written by Velie would exploit law enforcement concerns. I didn’t find it. I found a straight forward, factual, unemotional and unbiased news story about law enforcement.

Anyone who has studied journalism or has basic awareness understands that CalCoastNews is not a “blog,” and in no way resembles or functions as a “blog,” as CCN critics like to assert. Cal Coast News layout and consistency in form makes it an online news site, which all paper press sources are becoming in order to survive.

I have done a significant amount of research, always prepared to change my opinions, and now monitor all online news sources for information. What news sources choose not to publish can be as telling as what they do publish.

What I find is that stories that CalCoastNews breaks will be published by other local sources, eventually. Of what I am painfully aware is that just being mentioned on CalCoastNews was enough to earn me unrelenting ridicule by an Adam Hill supporter and CCN critic, whom I am aligned with politically but certainly not behaviorally.

Velie has known that I am a source of information that would benefit CalCoastNews and yet she has not perused, harassed or pressure me; she has never even contacted me. There is something wrong with the local narrative that portrays a woman as shamelessly aggressive for being successful at her job as a news reporter.

Over time, New Times has changed with new management. The Tribune has changed significantly. Tolosa Press has changed and even Cal Coast News had its deviating moments. That is the nature of the business; publications compete for advertisement and readership. Let’s read them all and think critically instead of being obsessively critical.

Dr. C. Hite received honorary membership in the Quill and Scroll Honorary Society and as president of her local chapter, was the first to present  author Ray Bradbury a  chapter title certificate.  Hite went to college on art, music, drama and journalism scholarships.  She studied off-set lithography, illustrated literary publications and edited and produced a bi-weekly newspaper in the early 1970’s that went to the printers camera ready.


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18 Comments

  1. TWEEKSBALMER says:

    No, but many of the local journalist appear to be how do you at Tribute that?

    (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
  2. NorthCountyGuy says:

    The Fibune is a synonym for government corruption.

    (11) 13 Total Votes - 12 up - 1 down
  3. Pelican1 says:

    Amen!

    (11) 23 Total Votes - 17 up - 6 down
  4. Rambunctious says:

    Doctor I only have on word for you after reading your opinion piece twice. Priorities.
    There are a lot of very serious problems with our nations news gathering and reporting agencies but frankly you have not hit on a single one.

    (7) 27 Total Votes - 17 up - 10 down
  5. Vagabond says:

    Long before there was a Cal Coast News the Tribune and all it’s predecessors were often worse than nothing.

    (20) 40 Total Votes - 30 up - 10 down
    • CentralcoastRN says:

      When the government chooses law enforcement over prevention, families and communities lose. Programs are slashed, staff are overworked and overwhelmed with no reward and a lot of safety risk.

      Experienced staff quit, leaving new and woefully inexperienced staff to fill the void. Unclear policies and procedures create a sense of unfairness and inequality amongst families in the system.

      I can tell you that social services is not raking in the dough. The rank and file staff haven’t seen a raise in YEARS. Children come in to the system and are oftentimes developmentally delayed, substance exposed, and has a variety of behavioral needs. They often need dental care, specialty care, mental health play therapy. The parents are offered reunification services, which usually leaves the family in need of support to meet BASIC goals.

      Public Health Nurses can be utilized to assist families, but the Health Agency can’t seem to recruit and retain staff due to low pay and disrespect. Same with social services. You may have a few old timers who are passionate about what they do, and are in charge of the 11 new social workers hired to replace the others that quit. Jail nurse staff won’t endanger their license for $34 an hour when they can make $60 at ASH with better retirement and easier work.

      Our country is having a moral, ethical, and spiritual crisis. We are reaping what we have sown. We need to take a good look at why we have allowed it for so long and how to change things.

      It is time to demand more from the administrators, CEOs, CFOs, agency directors, policy makers, and yes, our media. The people in power need to answer for the bad decision making that has been taking place, and certain media outlets need to be held accountable for biased reporting.

      (20) 22 Total Votes - 21 up - 1 down
      • r0y says:

        When you say, “The rank and file staff haven’t seen a raise in YEARS” does that mean not even a cost of living adjustment (COLA) or any change (up OR down) to their benefits, co-pays, etc.?

        I’m skeptical because often, in government speak, “no raise” means no adjustment to base pay (which is usually quite high for the lack of liability) only, all the while increases to things *other* than base pay or increased/improved benefits.

        If they have had NO adjustment anywhere in their pay (i.e. their checks have literally remained the same), I would say that is amazing! Of course, most people in the private sector have not seen a wage increase in a long time, all the while their “benefits” get more and more expensive.

        (6) 8 Total Votes - 7 up - 1 down
        • CentralcoastRN says:

          It’s not like social security recipients receive COLAS the pair with the consumer price index. Between 2007-2015, the employees in the social services and nursing units received about a 90 cent an hour raise. Half that raise went to mandatory pension increases. The other half went to help absorb the shock of family health insurance increasing by 13% in a single year. In two years, the health insurance premiums went up by 21%. A family of 4 of a nurse or social worker pay $1300 out of pocket.

          That’s what I mean by “no raises”. Take home pay has not gone up. The County actually had a name for it; the 7 year pain plan. People endured it, but it is really hard to work short staffed with newly minted social workers and nursing staff. Imagine being that professional rescuing babies from drug party motel rooms, and trying to help parents who truly don’t see the big deal in raising their children in that lifestyle.

          Add to it NO recognition, actually vilification in the news as “baby stealers.”

          You are free to look up salaries. It’s all online.

          We have to start looking at WHY systems fail. Statistically, EVERYONE is not incompetent. It is mathematically impossible. It is easy to make accusations against agencies and professionals in the service industry. HIPAA prevents persons and agencies from even acknowledging a person is on their caseload, let alone defending the decisions made. That is why no comments are made in response to allegations.

          (8) 10 Total Votes - 9 up - 1 down
          • Rich in MB says:

            The system fails because Government is incapable…corrupt and the worst way to get something needed done. But relax…Obamacare made it all better right?

            (-1) 9 Total Votes - 4 up - 5 down
            • CentralcoastRN says:

              The only person who likes Obamacare is Lois Capps. Local providers, AWESOME doctors, told her NOT to put ACA through. Lois Capps didn’t listen. But then, she hasn’t been a practicing nurse in YEARS, so she wouldn’t have a clue how it would effect our country.

              We talk about how all these government things SUCK, but we aren’t talking about specifics. WHY does it suck? What are the ramifications of “the suck”? WHO on earth supported “the suck”?

              True journalism poses these questions, and they do their best to find either unbiased sources or opinions on BOTH sides of the debate and trusts that the readers will come to fully informed opinions. THAT is what should be happening.

              Example: We all know how Calcoastnews just LOVES Adam Hill. If he farts funny, there is a HUGE article about it. If he does something good (ok I get that it isn’t often and isn’t a true testament to character), we don’t hear about it. We should trust the readers do not need to be spoon fed a story. We are smart enough to understand. We may not all agree, but we should be able to discuss things right? Just a thought.

              (-1) 5 Total Votes - 2 up - 3 down
              • kettle says:

                WE get you are a nurse and you hate Obamacare and Lois Capps because you bring it up over and over. Capps is retired and Obamacare is here to stay, like it or not.

                “We talk about how all these government things SUCK” Those are faceless internet comments, not the same thing as journalism at all, please stop trying to blend the issues.

                Stop kicking the dead horse over and over.

                (-1) 7 Total Votes - 3 up - 4 down
                • CentralcoastRN says:

                  You and I can agree to disagree.

                  (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
  6. mej says:

    Karen Velie deserves the highest praise for what she has done for journalism.

    (32) 74 Total Votes - 53 up - 21 down
    • r0y says:

      No, Karen doesn’t deserve praise for doing her job, she deserves thanks and reimbursement. Each of us can do both by donating to CCN, probably the best “praise” they can get.

      (13) 21 Total Votes - 17 up - 4 down
  7. GrayGranny2010 says:

    Over the past several years I have found it most interesting that Cal Coast News is the first to report on many of our local major news stories. Comments are made about them sensationalizing but low and behold, they have been right on the mark. I personally look to Cal Coast News for their truth in reporting and looking out for us, the everyday citizens of SLO County.

    (29) 71 Total Votes - 50 up - 21 down
    • Scott says:

      A free press creates free people, to interfere, alter, fabricate, falsify real news is terribly wrong,
      Cal Coast News has in fact uncovered incredible corruption, misconduct and out right lies of our elected officials, appointed officials and so much POLICE Corruption and abuse.

      The financial scams that have and still plague our County is one of the first things they exposed, then corruption in several law enforcement agencies, police brutality, law suits settlements, mostly concealed from the public .

      The worst corruption has been in the Sheriff’s Office, Paso Robles PD, SLO PD and the list is endless, remember currently major corruption indictments and investigations are going on in cities like, Cities of Bell, King City, Oakland, San Francisco, Bakersfield PD, Fresno PD, SLO PD the list is very long.

      All the criminal arrests and indictments in SLO has been done NOT by the alleged Internal Affairs, ( IA Does not exist in SLO PD) Officers who have lied, been fired, arrested, convicted or had out of court settlements paid by we the taxpayer,here are just a few: Crammer, Pierce,Mcdow, Limon, Morris,Chastin many others retired early others quit, but the real issue is none were caught by SLO PD’s IA No, all were caught by Federal or State Agencies including AJ Santana and others.

      The most corrupt part which was uncovered by CCN and two lawyers in Court are the fake SUMMER JOHNSON scandal. When I personally asked Sheriff Parkinson at the airport on a veterans Honor Flight gathering, he seem baffled and said ” I had NO idea what was going on” but i will look into it ? what he did was get his name removed off the Facebook site that showed him with known drug dealers, photographed with others criminals.

      Then when it comes to the horrible San Luis Obispo PD one of the most corrupt departments for its size in the entire state, I know I was a member of the Summer Johnson matter until i found out of its corruption and entrapment of people, the 1,432 members on the list are a who’s who of local people many elected, civic leaders, businesses, officilas and many real drug dealers, human traffickers, yet i wonder why would so many LEO’s be on the list ?

      I know first hand 7-10-16 while eating with friends at a downtown restaurant i was attacked by a known criminal Ian B. Smith formerly of Smith Volvo, police were summed , a trainee officers who more than once had no idea how to properly handle evidence , the manager of the restaurant informed the police and identified the suspect from security cameras as that of Ian B Smith, several patrons and witnesses in fear of there lives fled, several gave police statement of this crazed unstable Smith had in fact threatened to Murder, Kill etc.

      Then it goes off the rails, the detective in training Aaron Schafer not only lied, committed perjury before of all people Judge Rita Federman the same judge that AJ Santana lied to, so it appears this is the judge to go to if you want to lie. I filed a formal complaint with the “SLO PD” non existence IA unit, as of today still NO investigation, so i filed a notice and claim against the city and will expect once the suit is filled we will via discovery, interrogators and depo’s the truth will come out. As a retired investigator, disabled US Army Veteran who has testified at Federal Grand Juries, who has arrested corrupt cops, helped indict a X FBI JTTF member from Phoenix and many others I do NOT like corruption or those who LIE

      NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW
      Not lying Joshua Walsh
      Aaron Schafer and so many others

      Scott

      (19) 31 Total Votes - 25 up - 6 down
      • r0y says:

        You might like this quote, Scott:
        We’re arguing over which corporate puppet will be given the honor of stealing our money, invading our privacy, abusing our trust, undermining our freedoms, and shackling us with debt and misery for years to come. – John Whitehead, The Rutherford Institute

        (12) 18 Total Votes - 15 up - 3 down
  8. joseywales says:

    here here…..we are doomed by the sensationalistic shallow kardashians of the world who make the trib’s of the world possible.

    (6) 46 Total Votes - 26 up - 20 down

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