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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Press Release Journalism

Does anyone know exactly when journalism schools started teaching that reporters need only parrot and re-write politicians' press releases?

Here's why I ask. A big above-the-fold headline in the L.A. Times California section proclaims, "ANGELIDES PROPOSES TAX CUTS." Well, okay, that certainly seems newsworthy. But as you read the article, you see that $88 million of the "tax cuts" comprises "property tax relief and rent subsidies for the poor, disabled and elderly people."

Repeat: the "tax cuts" include "subsidies."

Since when do subsidies constitute tax cuts?

The answer, of course, is that if a favored politician says something to the L.A. Times, then it is merely repeated as truth without any analysis. The article includes a table of numbers and cites, as the source, the Angelides campaign. If Angelides says subsdies are tax cuts, then who is an L.A. Times "Norwegian blue" reporter to do anything but repeat same?

Here's another example. When Mayor Villaraigosa told reporters he is a fiscal conservative who cut spending to overcome a "structural deficit" of $200 million, the L.A. Times dutifully and unquestionably reported that. In fact, however, as the City's own budge reports show, Villaraigosa did not cut spending, there was no deficit, there is instead $717 million more in revenues this year, and he has managed to spend every penny of it.

Where are the Woodwards and Bernsteins of the Twenty-First Century?


Anonymous Anonymous said:

I'm still amazed the District and it's generously-paid consultants got so out flanked.

The District ought to ask for it's money back from Darry Sragrow and Glenn Gritzner (the two political consultants that failed). And, while the district is at it, it ought to fire it's Attorney (Reed who did an abysmal job) and censure Ms. Canter. For Christ's sake, they spent all hard earned tax payer money on opposing for this when they never had a viable plan.

August 17, 2006 8:31 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Day-um. Sounds like the Democrats on Capitol Hill, don't it?

Lets us oppose everything; a plan? Oh yeah, we have a plan.

Here it is:

"If you had elected me President, this wouldn't have happened."

(Direct quote from the Leader, John Kerry)

Vote for that "plan" and you get what you deserve.

August 17, 2006 8:50 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:


LA Times oh excuse me National Enqurier rarely reports the facts. They don't research and are kiss asses to Antonio and will print anything he says without doing their homework. Its about time people stop helping this paper stay in business. READ IT ONLINE FOR FREE if you must but DON'T BUY IT. latimes.com I remember during the mayor election the stories they printed in favor of Antonio were astounding. Even though reporters said they knew Antonio was making up there were 83 neighborhood watches in his district they never researched and reported it. I guess they figured it was a small white lie. And let's not forget the puff pieces groupie Jessica Villagarrison reported. She's back so watch out.

August 17, 2006 9:34 AM  

Blogger joseph mailander said:

Nice catch, Walter. The Times should not go above the fold on the Guvner's race until after Labor Day; now their role is to mine position papers for inconsistencies. But I think most Demos have written Angelides off by now anyway. It's just wasted ink all around.

August 17, 2006 9:35 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

"LA ANTONIA TIMES" has editorial calling out civic groups and leaders for lacking backbone to stand up to Mayor Polloraigosa on AB 1381. Even George "Little Red" Skelton confronted Polloraigosa on why the voters were not given the chance to vote up or down on his takeover of LAUSD.

August 17, 2006 9:52 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I don't like AV's plan either, but any thing is better than what we currently have.

I trust AV to make sure his plan works. I don't trust the idiots on the school board or the outgoing Redneck Superintendent.

Under AV's plan, the Southeast Cities at least have a small voice. Prior to AV's plan, they got nothing and were almostly excusively represented by incompetent Huizar (who got rid of them in redistricting) and now incompetent Tokofsky.

August 17, 2006 10:13 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

You're doing a heck of a job brownie/Murphy!

August 17, 2006 10:17 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The Times is a perfect example why journalism is declining and why their subscription is declining. Their reporting sucks, is non-research based, and politically in with who is politically popular at the time.

Just look at today. There is an editorial and a Skelton article that brings up very substantial criticism over Antonio's bill. It all comes when the bill has just about made it through Sacramento. Where the hell was the tough criticism before? Instead, their previous articles and editorials were so pro-Antonio, that the general readership didn't get any critique.

And don't let me rip into the Daily News. I still can't believe the editor hosted one of Antonio's school plan town halls. Fair and balanced journalism for the public. Right!

August 17, 2006 11:29 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Let's call that editor out. Who was it and let's flood the paper with e-mails. Let us know poster who was it. I'm sick of these LA reporters. David Z was one of the best cause he has the balls and reports hard hitting stories knowing he will make enemies. He should be running these tabloid pieces of shit called newspapers in LA.

August 17, 2006 11:45 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I stopped my subscription to the LA Times Propaganda rag 6 years ago.

People, we don't need any print or electronic media to tell us what is happening in our city. All we have to do is open our eyes every morning.

If we don't revolt en masse, we have only ourselves to blame. Stop all consumer spending and bring this city to its knees. Do not hire illegals and do not frequent any business that hires them.

Go to the ballot box in NOV and March and vote them ALL out!!!!!

EMail your senators and reps DAILY.

Report illegals to ICE.

We can undo the damage they have done in this city, but we have to get rid of them first!

Stop all spending!

August 17, 2006 12:28 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

11:45 A.M poster:

I'm no LA Times shrill, but you'd have to be pretty ignorant to say that the LA Times has been a booster for AV's legislation.

The LA Times supported what AV intially offered: a total mayoral take over. The LA Times has never supported the plan concocted by the Unions and AV and came out with an editoral criticizing the plan the day after it was announced.

Get your facts straight, knucklehead.

August 17, 2006 12:51 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:


I think you meant to say you are not a "shill". Instead you said you are not a "shrill". Get your vocabulary straight!

August 17, 2006 1:04 PM  

Blogger Archie Bunker said:


See LA, I told you Antonio Villaraibozo, the City Clowncil and Cuntroller Laura Chick-n-shit were going to rape this city to a bloody mess.

Yeah where are those true journalists like David Z? Reporters now a-days they're nothing more than White collar hookers.

August 17, 2006 1:26 PM  

Blogger joseph mailander said:

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

August 17, 2006 2:12 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

What part of "S-T-R-U-C-T-U-R-A-L D-E-F-I-C-I-T" does this sorry excuse for a gadfly not understand?

August 17, 2006 2:55 PM  

Blogger Walter Moore said:

"Structural deficit" means "baloney."
Go look at the budgets themselves, Sparky. Not the press releases, not the news articles -- the actual budgets. Every year, this City gets hundreds of millions of dollars more than the year before in tax revenues. The City also gets hundreds of millions of dollars in profit -- there's no other word for it -- from the DWP.

The people running the City then quietly expand spending each year to catch up with the torrent of cash. Compare, for example, this year's Community Redevelopment Agency budge to last year's.

However, rather than alerting you to that fact, the Mayor, City Clowncil and press-release reporters tell you there is a "structural deficit," which is not only false, but is a completely "made up term."

So, my tender young staffer friend, you may want to sign up for night courses to make up for the accounting and Econ classes you missed. It's never too late to stop learning. After all, you don't REALLY want to spend the next 10 years fetching Listermint strips and bottled water for the boss, do you?

August 17, 2006 5:12 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:


August 17, 2006 6:55 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:


Stop buying that rag newspaper and get free online. I remember during the mayoral election the absurb stories they put out on Antonio making him look like a celebrity and moviestar. They fail to report on Bitter Bernie's corruption and when reporting on Rampart rarely include him. They don't report on Richard Meuerlo and his development deals and all the other corrupt politicans. They don't report on the stuff going on in South LA ever. You notice they never report negative shit on the blacks. Why do you think that is???? SHUT THEM DOWN AS CONSUMERS.

August 17, 2006 8:30 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

August 17, 2006 8:30 PM,

That's your second post badmouthing the local fishwrap on this thread.

Did the LA Times fire you or something?

August 17, 2006 9:03 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Bottom line, reporters are not TRAINED to understand the subjects they write about -- they are TRAINED to write.

The good ones find experts on all sides, and ask probing questions, and take every govt. handout as a partial truth, at best. The bad ones are the other 95 percent. Add in the fact that you've now gone from the need to get the story out daily, to HOURLY versus electronic and Internet media.

This is why the LAT has been known for years as the "Velvet Coffin" of local journalism. Even the "good" reporters go in, and just. . . die.

It's too cushy, and too little is required of them. Plus even some of the better ones have editors (who understand less than the reporter does), who mangle to content on the last round, and strip the soul out of it.

August 18, 2006 12:56 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I read the Times. I could not wrap my fish and chicken bones any other way...
Seriously folks, thanks to bloggers like the Old Dead Mayor,here, we can get more of the truth, but ya gots to do a lot of diggin' to finds it. This town needs a third newspaper in line with the 21st Century, including the blogosphere. (rant over)

August 19, 2006 10:23 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The subscription decline of "El Tiempo" (as Tom Leykis used to call it) started when they did that last-minute hatchet job on Arnold before the recall. They lost a substantial number of subscriptions, and have continued to decline ever since.

Combined with that the growing irrelevancy of the print media in the age of instant news (internet, cable, etc.) and you have a MAJOR problem for Tribune Corporation, their owner.

Why do you think there is a power struggle between the Chandler family and Tribune management over the future of Tribune Corp and the Times?

I think Tribune is going to say "screw you" to the Chandlers AND get rid of their growing problem with the Times, by selling the Times to a third party buyer.

Rupert Murdoch?
The Ochs/Sulzberger family?
Mortimer Zuckerman?
(or even) Sun-Times Holdings?

Fasten your seatbelts, the real story is bubbling beneath the surface, and when it comes up, there's going to be a major shitstorm in LA.

August 19, 2006 10:16 PM  

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