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Journalism 102 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chet   

TeabuneImbalancedAnother Bismarck Tribune story caught my eye yesterday.  I meant to write something about it, but things were a little hectic around here. The Teabune's government/politics cub half-reporter, Nick Smith, wrote a story entitled "Residents Gather to Talk Property Taxes."  He clearly had decided to start writing a balanced teabagger story, so he approached the radical, right-wing guy who "spearheaded" the failed Measure 2 effort in the June 2012 primary, to eliminate property taxes in North Dakota. 

Robert Hale, a Minot attorney for the property tax abolition group Empower the Taxpayer, sought to educate local landowners on property taxes. Information on how the property tax funds K-12 schools as well as local property tax data was shared with the more than 30 people at the Bismarck Public Library.

[ ]

Hale said opponents of the measure claimed at the time that the state could address the issue of increasing property tax burdens through other means.

"The question is, did they fix them?" Hale said. "They were dead wrong. They've done nothing to fix them."

Bismarck Teabune

Okay, so they got the radical, right-wing teabaggeresque perspective on the dismal failure of Measure 2 in 2012.  "Next," Nick apparently thought, "let's get the perspective of the 'other side' on the topic."  So, of course, Smith went to...

Jon Godfread with the Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce said it’s still fairly early but the meetings are on the chamber's radar. Godfread was speaking on behalf of Keep it Local North Dakota, a business coalition that fought the property tax abolition measure in 2012.

[ ]

Godfread said while the Keep It Local group would likely oppose any new property tax abolition measure, the rising cost of the tax is an important problem to resolve.

"I definitely give them credit for keeping the discussion going," Godfread said.

Bismarck Teabune

There!  Do you see what Nick did there?  Nick smartly got the radical, crackpottish, teabaggy, right-wing view on property taxes, and then he got the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce right-wing corporatists, polluters and poisoners perspective.

All bases covered, right?

Nice work, Nick.

Crazy idea for you next time, Nick. When you're trying to do a political story and are going to try to pretend to present a balanced view in the Teabune, if you're doing a story about some right-wing crackpottery, call someone from the left to respond. And vice versa.

Sure, it sounds crazy.  But it just might work.


Comments (6)add comment

mikeW said:

...
Well he got someone who opposed the measure before. And you don't know if he contacted "Keep it Local", the main group against it, they gave him this person as their representation.

BTW...is blogging Journalism? If you state it is...you have been pretty guilty as well.
 
November 07, 2013
Votes: -2

Chet said:

"Is blogging journalism?"
Fair question.

Other fair questions:

Is Fox "News" journalism?
Is the "National Review" journalisms?
Is "American Spectator" journalism?

Fox "News" -- like the Bismarck Tribune -- is a right-wing, Republican propaganda apparatus. Do they sprinkle news-like stories throughout their work? Sure. Those Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremonies are news-like. The info we get about the library remodel job is news-like. Man-bites-dog stories are newsy. Election results stories are news. too.

Do they have some folks on staff at Fox "News" (and the Tribune) who are centrist or even a little left-leaning? Sure. Even Alan Colmes worked for Fox "News" for a while. But those are lipstick-on-pig stuff.

Is what Scott Hennen does "journalism"? No.

Is the "Great Plains Examiner" journalism? Not any more than Fox News.

"Is blogging journalism?" I suppose that depends. "The Fix" is a blog on the Washington Post's website, and I'd call that "journalism." "FiveThirtyEight" is a blog on the New York Times' website. I'd call that "journalism." I'd call the UND Hockey blog "journalism." I don't know whether Jim Fuglie would want his Prairie Blog to be called "journalism," but I think a lot of what he does/writes is better -- more informative -- than most or all of the journalism you'll find in North Dakota. I think a lot of blogging is journalism and almost all blogging is more informative than anything you get from the Tribune. The Tribune likes to pretend it doesn't have an agenda. At least most blogs are honest about their agenda, if they have one.

Is NorthDecoder "journalism"? I suppose that's in the eye of the beholder. I'm not a j-school-trained, professional journalist so if having a j-school-trained, professional journalist (like Steve Doocy?) on staff is your touchstone, then it isn't. If accurate, truthful, expository -- though infrequent these days -- stories are your touchstone, then yes, it is.
 
November 08, 2013
Votes: +2

j5mc said:

Let's finish it, then
I think the issue here is that the Smith article indicates either editorial bias, an unchallenging interview style, or just plain laziness.

I rather think that individual journalists being overt about their bias and interests is preferable to triangulating some synthetic blend of centrism.

The trouble with blogging is that it is indeed often more opinion than reporting, so when we see deficient work like this, it's easy just to hit our own "media bias" button and call it a day.

In this sort of case, though, I'd say it'd be of use to actually fill in the gaps. So let's finish the article. Let's talk property taxes, and get the spectrum of the leftish views in our state plus interested web commenters and build a better article.

***

Commenter:

Do you pay property taxes any yourself?

If so, where does the money go? How does the expense affect you? How do the civic programs they pay for affect you?

If you don't pay property tax, do you imagine that you indirectly pay property taxes anywhere along the line?

Are there cases where you think that property taxes should be increased, perhaps depending on land use or other conditions?

If you don't like property taxes, where else should the money come from?

Any other comments or concerns?
 
November 08, 2013 | url
Votes: +0

Tea Party said:

...
I occasionally visit this site. One thing is for sure, you are a complete ass. You fall into the perfect 'progressive' BS artist by calling people names via ad hominem attacks and rarely address any facts or real issues beyond the drivel of "left is good-right is bad". You appear to be nothing but a vindictive, uniformed, collectivist individual who couldn't find his way out of an open field with a map and gps. Classless it too kind for you. Calling you a jerk is too kind. You and Big Eddy (former Jr EIB Network Host) belong in the gutter of society because that's where you both speak from, exist in and drag your buffoonery of followers to (all 6 of them).
 
December 05, 2013
Votes: -1

Chet said:

Awesome
Glad you finally came out from under your skulking rock to chime in today. First you call me "a complete ass." Then -- without giving a single example -- YOU accuse ME of failing to cite facts and engaging in "ad hominem" attacks. You close out by saying "jerk" is too kind for me, as is "classless." You don't point to a single thing I've ever written that lacks facts or a single ad hominem attack that I have made.

Pot? Meet kettle.

Here's a suggestion for you: Find a clue and then start over.

Good day.
 
December 05, 2013
Votes: +1

Tea Party said:

...
Unlike you, i have more than a clue. I called you an ass, because you indeed are. You nothing but a shill for the progressive/collectivists here in the ND. You don't fool me. You are an ass. That's a fact ass well as you hiding behind being a shill for the collectivists in this state. That too is a fact. I especially like the "Teabagger" accusations. How original. Sorry, it's not calling the kettle black. You have about as much a clue to what's going on as the people you associate with (collectivists).
 
December 06, 2013
Votes: -1

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