Thursday, April 24, 2008

Make Sense of the World? Let's Make Sense of Idaho First

Story published at on Sunday, April 20, 2008
Last modified on Monday, April 21, 2008 7:59 AM MDT

Our agenda? Helping you make sense of the world
By James G. Wright
What's our agenda?

Lots of people think we have one, though none can agree on what that agenda might be.

Last week we ran a letter from a reader who suggested that we ran another letter - actually a compilation of bad jokes at the expense of President Bush - because of some agenda he didn't bother to define. In fact, we run almost every letter we receive because we want to provide an open forum as a service to the community.

Another reader recently e-mailed me to suggest that we have some other undefined agenda that drives us to cover up news about mercury emissions from gold mines and smelters in northern Nevada. Had he done a little research he would have known that we have published a dozen stories and editorials about the issue.

We're apparently deeply conflicted souls here at 132 Fairfield St. West, if you believe some of our critics. We have a pro-dairy agenda that clashes with our anti-Holstein bias. We're anti-education yet we support public schools. We're opposed to downtown revitalization even though we support it in editorials and as a member of the downtown improvement district. We're a bunch of commies working for one-world government and maybe even dancing on Sunday while simultaneously being money-grubbing corporate capitalist greedheads who canceled "The Born Loser" just to boost profits.

So what's our real agenda?

Lean in closer and I'll whisper it in your ear…closer…closer…that's close enough:

We want to give our readers in-depth, reliable and useful news and information about their community. And we want to be their indispensable resource in making sense of the world around them.

Pretty shocking, isn't it?

In a way, I'm somewhat flattered that some people think we could have some secret agenda or be part of a big conspiracy.

That implies a laudable level of organization - one I doubt we could pull off.

Put a dozen journalists in a room and ask them about anything - even just a lunch order - and you'll get at least 18 different opinions.

Throwing around the A-word is something of a cheap shot - one that generally comes from someone unable to dispute the truth of an article and instead tries to undercut the facts with an allegation of a sinister motive or bias on the part of the author, the editor, the publisher, the newspaper owners or the vast and ill-defined "media."

None of this means that journalists don't have personal beliefs and opinions, or that we're always able to divorce them from our work.

But for the most part, we go where the news takes us and we use checks and balances to catch unintended or unrecognized failure to remain objective - a reporter writes an article, at least two editors read it and then a copy editor checks it and writes a headline. It's not an infallible system, but it keeps us from tilting too far out of balance - or from promoting anyone's personal agenda.

Community Speaks
Story Commenting Forum

Grant Uptain (id:x2ox) wrote on Apr 20, 2008 4:00 AM:
" You do a pretty good job. I have no complaints, but I am bowing out of the blogging. I wish there was a greater sampling of Magic Valley computer users. I am afraid many people of my age just fell behind the learning curve for computer use. Best wishes. "

Herman Neuman (id:herospeaker) wrote on Apr 21, 2008 9:21 AM:
" Dear Grant,

Please keep blogging if it is not too troublsome for you. Although not everyone will be in agreement with what gets posted here by anyone, it is important that you share your wisdom. "

Sharon Metcalf (id:sleight47) wrote on Apr 21, 2008 2:02 PM:
" I'm with you, Grant. It brings to mind the old "casting pearls before swine." All of the facts in the world aren't going to get some of these people to listen, and quite frankly, I find too many of their posts routinely substitute hatred for reason.

I envision the Twin Falls of the future were it up to certain unnamed people whose blogs routinely approach lunacy. "

Herman Neuman (id:herospeaker) wrote on Apr 22, 2008 7:42 AM:
" Dear Sharon, isn't it amazing how the emotions of so many people are stiffling their abilities to think clearly and objectively? What are the causes of this? "

Sharon Metcalf (id:sleight47) wrote on Apr 22, 2008 12:51 PM:
" Fear...of truth...of being so wrong there's no excuse for it...of Bush's bogeyman...of learning that basing their self-worth on just being an American won't suffice anymore...of admitting that this administration is guilty of so much destruction and manipulation that it belongs nowhere but in a courtroom; ergo what does this say about unwavering support for a bunch of crooks...of losing their claim to humanity...of realizing that freedom of speech bears responsibility...that truth, justice and the American way are just words.

I've enjoyed your posts, Herman. "

Jill Clark (id:idahoemt) wrote on Apr 22, 2008 10:53 PM:
" Grant,

I am sorry to hear that you won't be blogging anymore. I enjoy reading your posts and I have even learned from you. I hope that you change your mind.

God Bless. "

Max Hatfield (id:7623) wrote on Apr 23, 2008 1:03 PM:
" Man it sounds like you chaps are having a real readership dilemma on journalistic and philosophical objectivity. Let me see if I can help you out. Some of those issues are just beyond my MOS but with respect to your anti-dairy and pro-Holstein dilemma, I am one of the worlds foremost pragmatic experts with over 30 years of hands on experience and can give you some help. To solve the problem of objectivity, each time a journalist writes an article about industrial dairies or an editor reviews it have this person take his lunch and drive out 4 miles due south of Filer on 2200 East and pull over to the side of the road roll down the windows and munch lunch. Have them take their time and savor the wonderful bliss of Silent Spring in the pristine rural Cadillac Desert setting. Just to show you how scientific I am with sampling procedure this person can stop next to the sewage lagoon or go on another half mile and pull over next to the 40 acres of rotten manure festering as compost. From an intellectual perspective this person can reminisce about how the University of Idahos scientific excellence designed both the flush and compost systems of rural beautification. One can realize how honest and forth right our legislature is with environmental control and full disclosure of cow numbers and nutrient management programs. How hard our tap dancing Senator Craig worked to make it illegal to require industrial dairies to measure air quality around these animal factories. Yummy and pass me another sardine and some Gorgonzola cheese or is that just the beans you ate yesterday. The journalist can even get out and walk around but watch where you step and duck when that sewage spewing pivot spays out on the road next to the company car because that would be the closest you would ever come to sucking on the proboscis of a giant blow fly. A journalist is not a journalist unless he is an investigative journalist and with my formula this person and his editor will become expert purveyors of truth instead of simply being English majors with only the capability of bulimic interview regurgitation with grammatical excellence but no substance. There now see how constructive I am. "

Too Many Idahoans Watch Too Much TV; read!

Obama’s remark about small town bitterness arising from lost jobs is all
over the media. The uproar he caused by telling the truth may have caused
you to miss other equally-important news.

There were more than 90,000 March 2008 bankruptcy filings, 30% higher than a
year ago.

The true current unemployment rate is 13%, reported at 5.1% thanks to
government changes to reporting.

ABC News reported that multiple top-secret meetings were held in the White
House starting in 2002 attended by Condoleezza Rice, Vice President Cheney,
Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, George Tenet, and John Ashcroft.
Interrogation techniques for detainees approved by the group included
slapping, pushing, sleep deprivation, simulated drowning called
waterboarding. Another typical Friday afternoon "confession."

Marie Cocco reports that significantly injured Iraq and Afghanistan vets and
vets suffering from PTSD still wait an average of 6 months, alongside
400,000 backlogged cases, for disability claim approval.

Paraphrasing Mike Whitney on the financial crisis: Two years ago, over 65%
of all mortgages were converted into securities and sold to Wall Street.
When two Bear Stearns hedge funds disintegrated, there’s was a scramble to
conceal the real worth of mortgage-backed securities (MBS)–nothing.

By approving the Bear Stearns bailout with JP Morgan, the Fed went beyond
its mandate of providing liquidity to the markets and bypassed Congress'
authority to appropriate funds. The Fed isn't authorized to prevent
privately-owned businesses leveraged at 30 to 1 from defaulting.

Whitney reports that after years of smashing regulations and shoveling
campaign contributions into greedy mouths, the banking crisis was
inevitable. Instead, the public sees Fed and Treasury heroes dousing the
flames of the banking inferno with a stream of taxpayer money.

A Jack Nicholson character yelled, "You can’t handle the truth!" It’s even
harder to take when lies are so much more palatable.