Posts Tagged ‘Missoulian’

by William Skink

A gaff is defined as a spear or spearhead for taking fish or turtles; a handled hook for holding or lifting heavy fish; a metal spur for a gamecock.

A gaffe is a mistake made in a social situation.

Maybe someone could clue in the editorial staff at the Missoulian about the difference an “e” makes: Tester lawsuit gaff reveals real frustration with logging litigation.

Here is the hilarious opening of the “article”:

Anyone who’s worked a fire lookout knows it’s tough to tell a wisp of morning fog from the smoke of a fresh lightning strike.

Not to excuse last week’s “four Pinocchios” gaff Sen. Jon Tester made regarding timber lawsuits, but it’s really hard to figure out just what the U.S. Forest Service is up to.

Let’s put aside the irony of the word selection for a moment. What the Missoulian is trying to accomplish for our senior Senator is a downshift of his Big Lie to a simple mistake. And once that’s done, change the subject:

And Tester’s misstatements about problems with national forest management may reveal a hotter issue: Congress’ fixation on changing the way people can challenge the agency in court.

It’s hard to find words to describe this kind of “reporting”. Tester lies about litigation so blatantly that he’s called out by the Washington Post, and the Missoulian decides to give the bulk of the article to those with…concerns about litigation:

“There’s nothing in the cut-and-sold reports about lawsuits – it’s just about timber sales,” said Todd Morgan of the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research. “And that doesn’t get at this spider web of connectivity, where one project gets litigated and it has an impact on lots of other projects. What they’re measured by is not always really clear.”

What is clear is that Montana Democrat Tester’s Republican colleague Sen. Steve Daines was on the same subject last week.

On Thursday, Daines challenged Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell on “the implications of fringe lawsuits on the responsible management of Montana’s national forests and highlighted the severe effects that diminished timber output has had on Montana’s economy,” according to spokeswoman Alee Lockman.

Tidwell apparently agreed, responding: “The litigation definitely does impact and it’s not just the litigation. When we get a temporary restraining order, we have to stop and wait. Every time we get a lawsuit, the same staff that would be preparing for the next project, they have to prepare to go to court.”

My emphasis on “every time” because that’s just not true. For anyone actually following this closely you will know that litigation doesn’t always stop logging projects from continuing. But hey, for a paper that can’t even choose the right word for a headline, why bother with facts in the content of the article, right?

I sympathize with activists like Matthew Koehler. Because it’s an ongoing battle just to counter top-level politicians and local media, who blatantly lie and spread propaganda, resources must be expended in the scramble to get accurate information out. If the intent is to keep more honest organizations occupied in perpetual damage control over messaging, then it’s an effective tactic.

This is how the article wraps up:

“Clearly, there is a great deal of frustration with litigation,” University of Montana political science professor Rob Saldin said. “Tester clearly misstated the situation, but I do not feel we’re at a place where this frustration is unwarranted. Some are saying litigation is holding things up, and others say the courts are the only thing we have to prevent catastrophe on our national forests. I think we really need to have this dialogue and we need more accurate figures and information. That’s the only way we can get a better assessment if we’ve blown things out of proportion or there’s real merit there.”

Sure, let’s have a dialogue. It should start off with the people who made “misstatements” apologizing for poisoning the dialogue with lies. Anything less signals this farce will continue, abetted by the servility of our local media.

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by lizard

I may take issue with other bloggers from time to time, but that won’t stop me from celebrating a great post when I read one, and Don at Intelligent Discontent continues writing excellent media criticism as we watch journalistic standards steadily declining.

The post is titled Fat Shaming and Rumor Mill Reporting in the Missoulian. Go read it. Don does a superb job excoriating the paper and its reporter for using one source, an attorney who complained about changes to the city’s health plan on social media, to construct a hit-piece against the Mayor for being overweight.

Here is the gist of Don’t criticism:

Online gossip is simply insufficient to justify the story, unless the Missoulian plans to start making speculation on social media a legitimate source for its reporting. Even a brief look at the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics suggests this story should not have been run as it violates standards for sourcing, responsibility, and pandering. And it sets an incredibly dangerous precedent: just who gets to use the Missoulian to air their personal grievances and speculation about public figures? Just attorneys in the town? Anyone with a Twitter account? Or just people who love the reporting?

There was another story the Missoulian ran recently with a questionable source. It was too close to home for me to write about, but it made me realize how low the Missoulian is willing to go to stoke controversy for clicks.

And when the reporting is this awful, media critics like Don will take the bait and draw attention to it, creating more clicks. I think it’s important to track the decline of corporate papers like the Missoulian, but we should realize we are actually helping to create more traffic for a paper willing to throw ethics and standards out the window.




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