April 18, 2004, 02:07 PM

Letters To The Editor

By Kevin Whited

Chronically Biased encourages reader feedback, and unlike the Chronicle's missing reader representative, we'll at least acknowledge your correspondence even if we do not respond substantively. While we can't publish everything, we'll consider all emails sent to Chronically Biased for this Letters section of the weblog. Drop us a line: editor@chronicallybiased.com

Permalink | Letters

April 15, 2004, 05:14 PM

Subtle Bias On The Corrections Page

By Kevin Whited

Bias can sometimes be so subtle that the perpetrators don't even realize they're being biased. Check out this correction from the Chronicle:
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is vice chair of the Senate Republican Conference, which sets broad policy themes, coordinates a political message for GOP senators and helps defend President Bush's policies. A Feb. 1 Washington Notebook item on Page 23A incorrectly described her post.
Do you see the problem with the italicized portion? Helps DEFEND. Not "helps promote" (a positive statement) or "acts as liason with Presidential policy staff" (a neutral statement), but "helps defend" -- implying that there is great outcry against the President's policies, and the Senate Republican Conference is just part of his PR machine. That's misleading, inaccurate, and subtly biased. And it's on the corrections page, no less. Classic Chronicle.

Permalink | Chron Bias

April 06, 2004, 08:53 PM

An Affront To Decency And Decent Journalism

By Kevin Whited

The Chronicle's Lucas Wall penned a story a few days ago about a soldier from Houston, Leroy Sandoval Jr., who was killed in Iraq. That story is now the subject of some controversy. Before telling you why, I'm going to reprint this excerpt:
Walters said his family did not want to discuss their sentiments about the war or the political debate surrounding President Bush's failure to find weapons of mass destruction, one of the prime reasons cited for invading Iraq last year. “Right now we strictly want to honor Leroy,” he said.
Steve Walters is the young man's stepfather. There are a number of ways to interpret that excerpt. Certainly, one fair way to interpret it is that the family was upset with the President, but didn't want to talk politics so soon after Sandoval's death. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. The family called KSEV radio earlier, and expressed great disappointment that Lucas Wall included any reference to the President. They are actually supporters of the President and the war, do not think that Sandoval died in vain, but wanted Wall to concentrate on Sandoval and not the politics of Iraq in his piece about their dead loved one. So, at the very best, Wall mischaracterized what they told him (since they say they did discuss their sentiments about the war, but asked that no reference be made in a story honoring Sandoval). At the worst, Wall was determined to work his political beliefs into a story that didn't need it. It gets worse. The assistant managing editor of the Comical actually called during the show, and said he was sorry if the story upset the family. After being taken apart by the Sandoval's 16-year-old sister on the radio, all he could do was argue with Dan Patrick that a lot of people were opposed to the war (or some such). He never acknowledged that his writer mischaracterized the family, and he never seemed to grasp that the issue is not that some people do or do not support the Iraq war and the President, but that his writer got the story wrong (and perhaps wrongly inserted his political beliefs in the story). Anyone could understand if the writer made an honest mistake, although a notation should be made at the very least on the corrections page. For that newspaper's assistant managing editor not even to be able to grasp the journalistic issue at stake is horrible. That's what we're up against. That's why we're here. A version of this post originally appeared at PubliusTX.net

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

April 01, 2004, 10:33 PM

I'm Glad The Chron Thinks It's Funny

By Kevin Whited

It's one thing for us bloggers to make light of METRO's Danger Train. It's another thing for the city's major daily newspaper to make light of all the accidents:
Police reports for the first 25 vehicle accidents involving the Metro light rail reveal only one fact for certain: Aries are the safest drivers. The collisions began Nov. 19 although the light-rail system didn't open to the public until Jan. 1. The list keeps growing — it hit 31 Monday — but this roundup focuses on the 25 pioneers, a diverse group. Officers don't ask for drivers' horoscope signs, but a check of birth dates reveals no Aries among the crashers. But it seems Geminis like to drive on the wild side. There are two Marys and a Maria in the stack of police reports. Also, contrary to water-cooler speculation, there's only one guy with the middle name Wayne. But there's also one named Dwayne, and everyone knows that a Dwayne is worth five Waynes. A couple of errant drivers pulled out of driveways into the trains and someone ran a red light, but most of the crashes were due to illegal left turns. Repeat: illegal left turns. Metro spokesman Ken Connaughton definitely sees a pattern: “People aren't paying attention.”
That bit of genius was written by someone named Lana Berkowitz, who goes on and on with such nonsense. I'm glad she's so amused by it all. I wonder if there will be so much frivolity at the Comical when the choo choo finally kills someone? Seriously, does anybody edit that awful paper? (rhetorical question, no need to answer) A version of this post originally appeared at PubliusTX.net.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

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