As a card-carrying member of the once-powerful mainstream media, I keep reading various laments on journalism sites about repeated layoffs and how horrible this is for journalists and democracy. (The two are identical, you see).
I sometimes feel sorry for my peers, but also exasperated when they continue to churn out articles predictably biased toward the left. As the example du jour, I offer this article in the San Bernardino Sun, “Fontana Weighs Tax.” It’s about a property tax for education, which all good reporters know is needed. And so the article goes:
“FONTANA – The deadline for the area’s first parcel tax vote is 8 p.m. Tuesday.
“And many in surrounding cities are going to be watching how it does during this era of rising hostility against government taxation.
“For the Fontana Unified School District, Measure E is an effort to gain a dependable funding source at a time when state budget cuts – and payment delays – have imperiled the health of many school districts and compromised students’ education.”
And so it continues in that vein, full of talking points why this small tax is needed, and lacking any arguments from anti-tax groups. We’re told that there’s “rising hostility to government taxation” (is there any other kind?) but not told why. Instead, we get a slurry of pro-tax quotes from sources such as the Fontana Teachers Association, another teachers’ union, and a university student who did a study finding that highly educated areas are more pro-tax than less educated areas. (Not-so-subtle subtext: only dummies don’t want higher taxes).
As evidence, this student cites the success of tax parcel measures in Berkeley. Of course, Berkeley is one of the farthest-left areas of California, but the story fails to mention this as a possible factor.
So instead, we’re left with the same old pro-tax propaganda, complete with the requisite reference to Prop. 13. I’ll bet the reporter congratulated himself on doing a good job educating the dwindling ranks of the public who read the San Bernardino Sun.
Speaking of the Sun, it’s holding a unionization vote on July 7. Judging from the comments, the place is filled with miserable hacks who hate their benighted management. While I certainly agree that management at the owner, Los Angeles Newspaper Group, is beknighted and myopic, the would-be Norma Raes among the staff don’t sound much better.
If the San Bernardino Sun reporters and editors stopped using their stories for political evangelizing, they might get more readers, and be safer from layoffs. The alienation of conservatives from media is well-known, and they represent a considerable part of the population, perhaps a fourth to a third. With newspapers under ever-increasing pressure, slighting such a large percentage of the population is foolish.
Some balance, a recognition that there is another side to such issues as school taxes, would go a long way to restoring trust. And the most basic part of that is finding people on the other side to talk with. Yes, talk about why the government says it needs taxes, but balance that out by talking with people and businesses hard-pressed by California’s high taxes, especially those moving out of the state.
Journalists spend endless hours debating how to attract more readers, but they’re ignoring a huge untapped market right in their backyard.
Why can’t these bright people figure this out?
(DISCLAIMER — This article represents my opinion, and not necessarily that of my employer, the North County Times).