Sunday, June 21, 2015

For the Serious Butte County News Junkie...

This is a post I wrote for Butte County Media Watch, a Facebook Page I manage. On that page, I try to publish most of the opinion pieces and letters-to-the-editor in Butte County. I include it here because it took a lot of work and I'd like it to get a bit more exposure.

Warning: This is a post for the serious local News Junkie.

Butte County Media Wrap Up:

It has been quite awhile since I've done one of these. Partially it is because the media scene has been downright boring. After the really ruckus election of 2014, things have settled down.

Butte County has only four newspapers that provides local news content. The liberal Chico News and Review (CNR), The Chico ER and Oroville MR (mostly the same paper), and the Paradise Post. The last three papers are owned by the same media group. The CNR is the first creation of 3 weekly newspapers that includes the influential Sacramento News and Review and the Reno News and Review. The Sacramento News and Review is where the persecuted Gary Webb ended up after writing gallantly about the CIA/Cocaine connection. His life was profiled in a recent movie and his reputation has been redeemed. Unfortunately, Gary took his own life from struggling with the pressure before he was vindicated.

No doubt we have some fairly decent journalism in Butte County. The CNR newswriting is awesome. The Chico ER and the Paradise Post boast some decent reporters. Heather Hacking is always good when she writes a news-story. Ashley Gebb at the ER also turns in a good read. The best newswriting belongs to the CNR where their newswriters, managed by Tom Goscoyne, always put out accurate, readable print. All in all, the news writing is pretty good in Butte County.

We could benefit from more local, diverse opinion writing. The Paradise Post has four columnists on board: Rick Silva (the editor): Russ Neal (a conservative retired school administrator); Jim Chastian, who grew up in Paradise but lives elsewhere and, again, is a conservative; and the ever fiery Jaime O'Neill, who single handedly, defends the Left/Liberal spectrum up on the Ridge. Plus the editorial board is skewed to the rightward end of the spectrum. Rick Silva does occasionally offer an "Editor of the Day" column. Never-the-less, the Paradise Post does, at least, offer some local Op/Eds.

The Chico ER has a column by its editor: David Little. Plus they have a weekly amateur column, rotated by four writers. These columns are rarely about politics and tend to be local, color/flavor pieces without much controversy to them. The letters-to-the-editor are the most diverse and interesting in the Chico ER. But the word count diminishes the arguments of the proponents. Plus they can be amateurish (by definition) and the accuracy of information is judged on a very low standard.

The CNR has a column by Melissa Daugherty, the editor. She has won awards with this "Second and Flume" column and it is influential. She has been the editor for a couple of years, and after a fairly slow start, she has established herself as a good column writer and an excellent editor. I've written for her and she is demanding and an excellent editor. The CNR also has a 400 word "Guest Comment" that provides local insight into issues. The letters-to-the-editor section is tidier than the Chico ER. Plus the 3,000 word Feature is open to free-lance writers (I've written a few of them). Again, the quality is very good.

The CNR editorials are a much needed breath of fresh air in an otherwise mostly Conservative desert.
We live in a county that boasts a University and a 2 year college. We have hundreds, if not thousands, of highly educated professors and teachers. Our culture doesn't benefit enough from having these thousands of educators who live the intellectual life. Our Intelligentsia has lots of heavy weights in it. From writers of books on Climate Change to a biography of I.F. Stone.

I wish we would hear more from these Professors. Mark Stemen and the retired Jaime O'Neill aside, very few of these teachers enter into the fray. And please, correct me if I'm wrong. Some do write for the CNR; and the online publication: ChicoSol, does do some good work.

There are some local freebie publications that offer a limited world-view such as the Lotus Guide (which tends to be a bit flakey and intellectually infirm).

It would really help if the Big 4 local newspapers did more to attract expert opinion from the PHD's. Everyone likes to be paid for writing: offering a small sum might help. There is nothing like a check from a newspaper to stroke a writer's ego.

So come on Professors, belly up to that lap top and let us know what you think! We need to hear your opinion. Come down from the Ivory Tower and join into the fray! We get to hear plenty from the small set of courageous letter writers. We could use more expert opinion to elevate the debate on many local issues.

When it comes to newspapers, we who live in Butte County are spoiled. Per capita, we have more newspapers and more variety of opinion than most small, rural counties. I'm not complaining. We do well here. I'd just like to hear from the Ivory Tower a bit more in the form of local Op/Ed's.

No comments:

Post a Comment