Tuesday, October 26, 2010

No answer from new editor

This is the kind, courteous, concerned e-mail I sent to J. Todd Foster, the new executive editor, who has, naturally, already offered and broken promises to improve the TFP.
Despite so far three attempts to e-mail him, I have yet to receive an answer:

Dear Mr. Foster,
Recently a tele-marketer called to try to sell me on the Times Free Press.
I laughed at the notion of subscribing and told her why.
First, I do get the Sunday paper, and every week I find one particular feature to be a shameful pile of garbage.
Again, this past Sunday, your very biased and/or dishonest editors allowed into your paper some anonymous filth no decent and honest editor would pass:
"The only difference between the tea party zealots and the KKK is that one group wears white cone heads."
"I took someone's advice and listened to Glenn Beck. Well, he's even crazier than I thought."
Sir, you're new here (or at least new in your position) and you might be forgiven for being ignorant of this fact: Just on the edges of the TFP circulation, three black candidates were endorsed by the Tea Parties in their respective districts.
You should know, but the "news" media have been shamefully ignoring of the fact, that black speakers and black members have been at many Tea Party events.
Your other editors, though, have been told this previously, yet this filth continues in your paper.
If you don't understand why your circulation is dropping, and will drop further, this is part of the reason.
A very few weeks ago, I sent e-mails to every editor listed on your Web site, and to several reporters, inviting them to an event with a syndicated columnist. I sent it twice.
Not one person -- actually one, who was courteous enough to send his regrets because of a funeral -- had even the simple courtesy to reply. And of course no "news" people attended, probably because the speaker's opinions did not fit the apparent prevailing bias of your staff.
Sir, even if you don't try to get honest news reporting, you could at least end the disgrace of anonymous garbage in "TheRant" each Sunday.
In the meantime, I'm trying to talk my friend into dropping it completely. Delivery has already been cut to weekends, but that kind of anonymous filth is not welcome in the homes of decent and honest people.
The only real quality there is the circulation department. Your carrier has been perfect.
Too bad about your news and editorial departments.
Yours sincerely,
Michael Morrison

Credit where it's due

As mentioned here previously, several times, the worst feature of a bad opinion section in a very bad paper is the execrable "TheRant."
But when, maybe two or even three times a year, someone manages to get in an intelligent comment, I must give credit. (Though I wonder how it got past the "editor.")
This was in the 24 October edition: "Two weeks before the election and the TFP sure touted the GOP bashing editorals and letters to the editor last week. Coincidence, I'm sure."
One of the very few credits to the TFP is the presence of two different editorial pages, the Times on the left and the Free Press on the right, in both senses.
Yet the Sunday Perspective section is always rather heavily weighted leftward, even though Steve Barrett usually makes sense and both Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams columns are usually featured on the Free Press editorial page.
The foul, hate-filled Clay Bennett cartoon sits prominently on the front page of the section and the racist Leonard Pitts, Jr., at the bottom of page 3.
But usually there is at least a pretense of presenting two sides -- itself a picture of part of what is wrong with the "news" media, that the media don't realize there are many more than two sides.
However, as The Ranter said, the previous week, every "Rant" and every letter was biased to the left, the Democrats.
The new executive editor, J. Todd Foster, invites readers to write him at jtfoster@timesfreepress.com ... but he has never answered me, so good luck.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

'Journalism' reaches a new low

Candidates for Congress in Tennessee's Third District, some of them, were invited to a "debate" by a local Tea Party organization Saturday, 16 October.
Three showed up, not including the Republican nominee, Chuck Fleischmann. By the way, please note that is a two-syllable name, properly hyphenated between the h and the m. An explanation follows.
So, appearing were independents Savas Kyriakidis and Mark DeVol, and Democrat John Wolfe.
According to the alleged reporter, Jessie Gable, who either slept through most of it, or who stepped out for a smoke, it "was pretty much a free-for-all against Republican nominee Chuck Fleis-chmann, who wasn't there to refute the attacks." Sic. Sick. As I have pointed out before, obviously no one reads the thing, so errors abound uncorrected. (The TV magazine has, for two weeks in a row, had some computer glitch that puts question marks alternating with every letter and space in one feature. It looks something like this: I?t?l?o?o?k?s?s?o?m?e?t?h?i?n?g?l?i?k?e?t?h?i?s? Even for the TFP that is incredible.)
"Democratic congressional nominee John Wolfe and independent Mark DeVol used the debate at Woodland Park Baptist Church to criticize Fleischmann."
Of course they did, among many other things they said.
"Wolfe referred to Fleischmann, who has stayed away from most multicandidate events, as the 'coward of the county.'"
Yes, Mr. Wolfe did, as he has before, noting that was a line from a country song (by Kenny Rogers?). I might not know who performed it, but even I know the source, and the "reporter" implies it's a gratuitous insult.
Mr. DeVol said Mr. Fleischmann was "up in Washington, D.C., picking out his furniture." That is a line Mr. DeVol has also used before, meaning, clearly, that the GOP nominee feels he has a lock on the seat, a feeling Mr. DeVol disputes.
The two independents "emphasized their conservative credentials to the audience of 100 or so people." There were many more than that.
"Indepent candidates Don Barkman, Gregory C. Goodwin, Robert Humphries and Mo Kiah were not present."
Candidates Goodwin and Humphries both dropped out long ago and both have endorsed Mark DeVol. I alerted another "reporter" about that fact, weeks ago, but apparently no one at the TFP talks to anyone else while they're not reading their rag.
Mr. Wolfe gets dismissed this way: "Wolfe stumbled over the words 'Iraq' and 'Iran' in his answers. A group of his supporters clapped after almost every answer, although the audience was asked at the start to hold its applause."
Also not true.
The TFP has always disliked Mr. Wolfe and published lots of inaccuracies or criticisms over the years, and even the knee-jerk Times editorialists have not endorsed him. Mr. Wolfe just laughs it off, not expecting any accuracy or simple decency.
Fact is, though Mr. Wolfe has extreme and, in my opinion, often wacky, left-collectivist beliefs, he also had a lot of facts at hand, and he expressed his ideas and intentions to a much greater degree than he expressed criticism of Mr. Fleischmann.
And that was true of the other candidates, too. They spent their time telling us in the audience what they thought was right, was needed.
Only one other "news" medium even showed up ... well, one-and-a-half. Channel 61 "news" is run by Channel 9 "news." Saturday night, though, Channel 61's broadcast, because of some sporting event, appeared on Channel 53.
After a very superficial story, about like the TFP's, another story followed in which "major races," governor and Congress, were mentioned, but only the names of Wolfe and Fleischmann were reported! Incredible incompetence and/or dishonesty is obviously not limited to the paper.
As I had told the TV reporter, that Chuck Fleischmann did not show up has been beat to death. Every forum and broadcast talk show in the district has harped and harped on the fact.
No, the story was what those attending candidates said, what they promised, what they believed and intended.
Tennessee has the second-lowest voter turnout in these United States. One reason: Because of slovenly "news" reporting, the voters don't know they have more than the usual lousy two choices. (Tennessee has very restrictive ballot access laws, and while Tennessee men and women are risking their lives in Afghanistan "to bring democracy," we don't have "democracy" here.)
Independent candidates get next to no coverage, except for a couple Internet fora and the radio talk shows, which, in Chattanooga, are almost the only open news outlets.
Despite promises by the new TFP executive editor, nothing is improving; everything is still terrible and apparently getting worse.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Times editorial page 'editing' continues to degenerate

"Editor's Note" to a letter, published Monday, 11 October, that endorsed Mark DeVol for Congress uses a cliched and erroneous term.
Letter writer Jim Sims, of Red Bank, endorses Mr. DeVol at least in part because the candidate "is for eliminating Congress' retirement program."
Mr. DeVol, who also favors term limits, stresses that members of Congress are supposed to be public servants, that they are being honored enough by being elected, and that the huge benefits and perquisites cost the people too much and are not deserved.
"Urban myths" is what the "editor" calls that. Even if it were an error, it is not an "urban myth," which is a particular class of erroneous beliefs.
Then, though the "editor" deigned to try to contradict the Sims letter, no answer is given to a really stupid letter from Ann Benton of Signal Mountain.
Among other nonsense, she says, "... corporations are buying Republican politicians."
Fact: More corporations gave money to the Democrat national convention than to the Republican national convention.
Multi-billionaire George Soros has decided not to fund the Democrats this year because, he said, he doesn't "want to stand in front of an avalanche." But you know his heart, even if not his money, is with the Democrats.
She said Republicans want to "Demolish Social Security and Medicare."
Where is any editorial rebuttal to that garbage?