A letter writer in Monday’s paper says voters in the May 21 Medford School Board election should “ignore the Mail Tribune.” She goes on to label our coverage as a “smear machine,” so it’s pretty obvious which candidate she’s supporting. Definitely not one we’re supporting. You can read my earlier blogs to figure out who we’re talking about, but it’s not really relevant to this piece.
She says instead of following the MT’s endorsements, voters should do their own research. To that we say, go for it. The more independent research you do, the better. Read the Voters’ Pamphlet, check out candidates’ websites and campaign material, read news stories — in short, do whatever you can to figure out what the candidates are really about.
We would add to that list, watch the videos on our website. There’s a lot you can glean from the demeanor of the candidates, as well as what they have to say.
As for whether to follow our editorial recommendations, I’d first say that we’re not telling you how to vote, we’re telling you who we think would make the best school board members. We also offer a brief idea of why we think that way, which should give you a hint about whether our idea of a good candidate matches yours. We do have one advantage in all this: We get to sit across the table from the candidates and see them in action. That sometimes can tell you more than all their campaign materials put together.
So, yes, check out other sources, as many as you have time for. But there are several Mail Tribune sources — stories, videos, editorials — that you should include in that effort if you really want to get the full picture.
In case anyone else wants to call or write to complain that we haven’t covered the Benghazi story, please see the top of Page 8A Wednesday and Page 5A Thursday. The online coverage on our website is provided by the Associated Press, which has filed stories regularly on this. Those AP stories cannot be accessed through our archives, since the archives do not include national and international stories, in fact very little beyond local stories.
No cover-up conspiracy here, folks, really. And for those of you who only get your news from Fox, I suggest that you widen your horizons.
We get our fair share of criticism — some deserved, some not so much — so it’s always nice to hear from the folks who are happy with us. A lot of times it comes from people who are trying to get the word out about an event or a need for help and who have had a story run in the newspaper.
I received just such a comment yesterday from Mary Holbrook, the local district direct for Junior Achievement. JA is taking on the senior projects for the Medford schools for the first time this year and found itself woefully behind in recruiting volunteer judges. Mary contacted us, we ran a story in Wednesday’s paper and JA promptly got a huge response. Here’s part of Mary’s email message to me:
“If anybody wants to know if the MT gets results, just have them call me! Since the article about needing senior judges appeared in this morning’s paper, my phone has not stopped ringing!”
Well, that’s literally a ringing endorsement for the power of a community newspaper. And it’s far from the first time that we’ve heard that kind of report, from groups large and small. A good reminder for us — and, hopefully, for our readers — that we still are in a position to make a difference and help our community.
By the way, if you can spend a few hours as a judge for senior projects, contact Mary at email@example.com or 541-842-3920.
Curt Ankerberg, a candidate for the Medford School Board, says the Mail Tribune is lying when it said he called an opponent illiterate. Just to make it clear who is lying, here’s how the conversation went in the meeting with the editorial board:
Cheryl Dykes, responding to previous comments by Ankerberg questioning her qualifications, noted she has a personal interest in the success of the Medford School District, in part because she has grandchildren who attend the schools and had two children graduate from Medford high schools.
“… both have master’s degrees,” she said. “We’re not all illiterate.”
Ankerberg, sitting next to her, responded, “But you are.”
Check it out for yourself on this video: http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130506/MEDIA03/130509962
We’re trying something a bit different this year in our editorial endorsements of candidates for the Medford School Board. In addition to the editorial we’ll publish (and, of course, stories on the candidates and races by our reporting staff), we are videotaping our editorial sessions with the candidates.
If you’ve been wondering what those lawn signs popping up around town are all about, time to get prepared. In fact, a bit past time: Ballots will be sent out Friday for school board races across the state, including some hot races in the Medford, Eagle Point and Phoenix-Talent school districts.
We will be doing editorial endorsements for the three Medford positions on the ballot and providing video on the editorial board interviews with the candidates. You might question our editorial stance or may wonder what else was discussed and this will give you a way to hear it straight from the candidates.
The videos should be posted by the end of the week. Don’t have a link yet, but if you hold your cursor over the “News” bar at the top left of our website (just under the weather) several choices will pop up, including “Education.” When the stories and videos are posted, you’ll be able to access them there.
Our editorial endorsements for the Medford positions are planned for Sunday and a link to the videos will be provided there as well.
By yesterday afternoon, we had our Page 1A story for today figured out. For the fourth time in recent weeks, a home in the hills of east Medford had been broken into and in three of those four cases, the break-in occurred while the residents were home. The most recent was the most heinous, with two elderly people assaulted by a man who forced his way into their home at 4 in the morning.
We had the story about the assault ready to go (and it had already appeared on the Web), when we realized it really wouldn’t make much sense with the photo we had of a neighbor walking her dog. We had talked with several neighbors about the recent break-ins and had a photo of the woman who was out walking. But it would have made for an odd combination to have that photo running under a headline along the lines of “Elderly couple assaulted in violent robbery.”
We didn’t have another photo choice to go with that story, so our option was to rework the story. We moved up quotes from neighbors talking about their concerns about the recent incidents and rewrote the lead to say “Residents in an east Medford neighborhood are on edge after a man forced his way into a Hillcrest home early Tuesday morning . . ..”
That created what in the journalism world is called a second-day lead, focusing — at least initially — more on the effects of an event, than on the event. The full story contained all the information of the original version, but led with the neighborhood concerns.
With the story already having been the most viewed story of the day on our website and likely to get plenty of air time on local TV stations, the second-day lead probably made more sense anyway. Rather than telling people what they already know, the second-day lead comes at the story from a different angle.
But, truth be told, that wasn’t our plan. Circumstances dictated the way we handled the story and fortunately it worked out in the end. Much as we like to have our days planned out, that’s often the way it is in this profession: The unexpected occurs and we adjust on the fly. It’s one of the things that makes it interesting to work in the news business.
If you’ve always longed to be in the thick of things, chasing fire engines, interviewing celebs and being there when the day’s great events unfold, the reporter’s life may be for you. Then again, maybe not. Check out this Wall Street Journal story.
In a survey of 200 jobs in the United States, reporter ranked dead last — edging out last year’s worst job, lumberjack (otherwise known as a logger in these parts). The reporting job was ranked low because of its relatively low pay, deadline stress, job insecurity and staff reductions. What’s not to like in that?
There’s certainly room to quibble with the results of the survey. Reporter ranked below jobs like janitor and dishwasher, both of which pay considerably less. No offense to people who work hard in those jobs, but I guess the relative lack of stress offsets the poor pay and type of work? If “low expectations” rates as a good thing, then being unemployed must be a heck of a job. Guess it depends on your view of life and how you want to live it.
Being a reporter won’t make you rich — it never has. It definitely comes with a stress level and uncertainty that wasn’t there a decade or two ago. But it’s still an interesting way to spend your day and good reporters not only find themselves in the thick of things but also can make a real difference in their communities while doing their jobs. Not sure I’d trade that for No. 1 on the list: actuary (somebody please wake me up when the day is over).
Without question, news reporters and editors are more familiar with local government than the average community member. But it’s still surprising, and disappointing, to see how confused some people are about the systems that supply cops, pave the roads, operate parks and, yes, collect taxes. (Especially disappointing when it seems like we are constantly writing on the topics.)
Case in point: Jackson County has made the news recently with details of the county government’s plans to retrench and make significant cuts in a variety of departments and services. The last week, the city of Medford, through its Urban Renewal Agency, reviewed plans to renovate Hawthorne Park as part of an effort to make it more family friendly and less of a hangout for transients.
Social media posters immediately pounced. Why, they asked, is the county cutting back on basics like sheriff’s deputies and support for 4-H, while the city is adding things dog parks and water features in a park?
This seems obvious, but maybe it’s not: The city and the county are two separate organizations, with separate budgets and separate services. While they may cooperate in some areas (emergency dispatch for instance) they are not likely — and certainly not obligated — to share funds if one or the other runs into financial difficulty. Beyond that, in the case of the Hawthorne Park plans, that is being funding largely, or perhaps entirely, by urban renewal dollars, which legally can’t be used for anything but the city’s urban renewal projects.
Some folks are quick to pounce at any hint of government waste and fraud or perceived excess. That’s fine, if it’s true. But they should at least understand the basic operations of government before they start pointing fingers.
If you got your news on the Boston bombing story only out of the newspaper this morning, you probably know by now there’s a lot more to the story. As of 10 a.m. Friday, when this was written, one of the two suspects in the bombing is dead, the second suspect, his brother, is on the run with thousands of law enforcement officers in pursuit and the city of Boston is virtually shut down.
The timing was about the worst for a West Coast newspaper. By our press time, there were reports of explosions and shooting on the Associate Press wire, but there was no mention of any connection to the bombing. By 1 a.m., long after our presses had been running, the first report came out that said police were investigating whether there was a connection to the bombing. It wasn’t until 1:25 a.m. our time that a story moved confirming one of the two suspected terrorists was dead and the search was on for the brother. No doubt that after the numerous false reports earlier in the week, news organizations covering the scene were being cautious.
We were not totally powerless to report the breaking details. Our website was able to provide updates throughout the night via AP and that we were able to post a full story, with lots of details and eyewitness accounts, early this morning. We’ll keep posting updates today as the story unfolds.
In a case of bad timing, a Macy’s ad that ran nationwide, including in the Mail Tribune, included a pressure cooker among its 20 sales items. No one would hold that against Macy’s — obviously the ad was developed long before the tragic events in Boston — but it was a bit painful to see anyway.
It was even more painful for our sister paper in Cape Cod, Mass., which published an apology today after inadvertently running a graphic detailing the makeup of a pressure cooker bomb on the same page as the Macy’s ad.
While some might wonder how in the world that could happen, it’s not that surprising to the people who put together newspaper pages. Newsroom page designer often see only a low-res version of the ads on the page and, frankly, don’t pay much attention to them anyway as they are trying to finish up the paper late at night on deadline. The Macy’s ad had about 20 sale items and the pressure cooker took up a relatively small spot on the page.
We were safe from duplicating Cape Cod’s juxtaposition of the graphic and the ad, because we decided sometime earlier that we would not use the graphic. It had a little too much of a “here’s how to build a bomb” feel, in our opinion. So we nixed any thought of using the graphic long before the pages were assembled.