Saturday, November 28, 2009

The New Journalism: Wall-to-wall opinion?

The Housing Authority of Portland’s campaign to spend $40.5 million to raze and rebuild Hillsdale Terrace in a dank, nearby gully is troubling enough.

Even more troubling is how the story was covered in The Oregonian. Or I should say, how it wasn’t covered.

Instead the story “broke” in an Oregonian Op-Ed opinion piece opposing the project. The “Guest Column” was written by former HAP Commissioner Ray Hallberg. His strong opposition to the project was the opening volley in a ping-pong match of biased rebuttals and letters to the editor.

The Oregonian was satisfied to let advocates and critics thrash away at the issue from their opposing and biased perspectives.

On the paper’s web, OregonLive, the back and forth continued, but without the writers’ own conflicts of interest ever being revealed.

The Oregonian offered nary a story about Hillsdale Terrace. Zilch. No neutral voices, no experts and no Hillsdale Terrace residents were heard from. In essence the issue was treated like some kind of bloggers’ dust-up or TV chat show shouting match.

If the Hillsdale Terrace boondoggle (my bias) is worthy of so much space on the Op-Ed page, doesn't it deserve some real reporting and a story?

Is this kind of “coverage” we can expect from the journalism of the future?

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Blogger Paul Souders said...

Is this kind of “coverage” we can expect from the journalism of the future?

Rick, my first thought when I read this sentence was: "no, this is the kind of "coverage" we can expect from the journalism of the past."

I know more about Hillsdale Terrace from your blog and to some degree the SW Community Connection website than from the Oregonian (and Oregonlive) or TV. In fact if the O and local TV/radio were my only sources, I'd probably have learned about the new development on the day they knocked down the old one.

By the way I love your blog. I get it in my Google Reader feed with the SWCC, BikePortland, and a few other sources that provide me with a customized news source providing tons of news about our neighborhood. Keep up the good work.

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Shasta said...

I was particularly peeved that Hallberg's op/ed piece quoted my article quoting Steve Rudman but never said where he got it from. At least gimme a little credit for trying, folks!

10:57 AM  

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