View Full Version : The Signal Bias, yes way

Ole Glory
02-18-2010, 03:59 PM
Lila Littlejonh llittlejohn@the-signal.com

Our View: Being responsible is our agenda

The Signal editorial board
Posted: Feb. 13, 2010 4:37 p.m.
POSTED Feb. 14, 2010 4:55 a.m.

If nothing else, working in the news business quickly teaches one to develop a thick skin. We've gotten used to name-calling, accusations and death threats - and we don't obsess too much over them, because it comes with the territory.

But every once in a while it's appropriate for us to set the record straight.

Over the past week, our newsroom has fielded complaints over the front-page Feb. 7 story about a local day laborer who is an illegal immigrant.

We've been accused of trying to generate sympathy for law-breakers. One letter-writer called the story a "pile of propaganda." Some have leveled a charge we've faced before: The Signal has an agenda.

To that last one we respond: "Yes. We do."

Our agenda as the newspaper of local record is to do the best job we can in objectively covering all sides of a controversial issue.

A month ago, City Councilman Bob Kellar's now-infamous speech at a rally against illegal immigration provided the spark for what has become a wildfire of public opinion - some of which has been eloquent and thought-provoking, and some of which has been vitriolic and mean-spirited.

It was our responsibility to interview Kellar and his fellow council members about his speech. It was our responsibility to be at City Hall when activists on both sides of the immigration debate showed up, signs in hand and rhetoric on lips.

And in all this talk about the difference between what Kellar said and what he meant, and the problems caused by illegal immigration, it was incumbent upon us to find and interview someone at the heart of this controversy - an illegal immigrant.

Judging by the responses we've received, there are those who would prefer we ignored that facet of the story, that we not actually talk to those who are the subject of the controversy, and instead stick to reporting on complaints about illegal immigration.

We disagree.

Let the record state: We believe illegal immigration has wreaked havoc on our state and our country. We believe our state and nation should enforce its laws. We believe meaningful dialogue needs to take place and decisions made about how to rectify the problem.

But at the end of the day, the responsibility is ours to report as many sides of a news story as we can find. It's our job to put the issues on the table.

As for the legitimacy of the various sides of those issues, we leave it to our readers to decide.

If making an effort to provide complete coverage of an issue and let the reader form an opinion makes us bleeding-heart liberals, then we're proud bleeding-heart liberals.

This is a story that is far from over. Expect continued coverage of the issues created by illegal immigration and its impact on the Santa Clarita Valley.

Furthermore, we invite readers to send letters to the editor and tell us their perspectives on the issue.

That's what we're here for.

Ole Glory
02-18-2010, 04:02 PM
The Signal Comment Section:


February 16, 2010 - 04:22 PM

To the Editors,

Thank you for responding to this issue.

Maybe there should be a clearer distinction made between a news story, and a News Feature story so that the readers can better understand where the newspaper is coming from?

A News Feature story, from what I understand, is based upon a 'news item/event' and tries to provide the 'human element' behind the news.

This is a good thing-however the readers , IMO, need to be able to differentiate between a News story, a News Feature story (since the News Feature story allows the reporter MUCH greater opportunity to add slant to an issue depending upon how he chooses his subject, the questions he chooses to ask (and chooses to ignore) when interviewing his subject, the way he phrases his questions (leading questions versus unbiased questions ) and how thorough his line of questioning is.

A News reporter must ask the basic 'WHO, WHEN, WHERE, WHY', and if possible 'HOW' questions. A good news article, IMO, should include this basic line of questioning. The answers to these questions can be easily verified if the reader chooses to question anything.

A Feature article, or a News Feature article does not abide by the same strict standards. Feature or News Feature articles are a 'good thing' and can add great insight into 'News' items but a reporter or a media organization should be careful, IMO, not to inadvertantly pass off a News Feature article or a Feature article as a News article.

People who write News articles are held to much higher standards of journalistic integrity-IMO.

A fact is a fact, a slant is a slant, an opinion is an opinion.

A news article should only contain verifiable Facts.

When writing slants or reporter's opinions are included in something that is labeled a 'News' article, then it does not belong in the News section.It belongs in a 'News Features' or 'Features' section- IMO.

Readers weigh News articles, Feature articles, NewsFeature articles differently with regards to perceived objectivity of reporter or writer.


February 16, 2010 - 07:18 PM

A News reporter must ask the basic 'WHO, WHEN, WHERE, WHY',

WHAT (5 w's)

and if possible the 'HOW' questions. A good news article, IMO, should include this basic line of questioning. The answers to these questions can be easily verified if the reader chooses to question anything.

I originally left out the "WHAT" in my original post above.

Ole Glory
02-18-2010, 04:57 PM
Lila Littlejohn: Wishing you independent thought

Out of the Newsroom

661-259-1234 x515
Posted: Dec. 26, 2009 7:08 p.m.
POSTED Dec. 27, 2009 4:55 a.m.

My most memorable encounter with plagiarism occurred a few years back while teaching English at College of the Canyons.

I assigned my students to write an essay responding to a particular online article about a trend in education.

One of my students visited the online publicationís Web site, found a letter to the editor responding to the article, downloaded the letter, put his name on top and turned it in as his essay.

Iím pleased to report that COC has a zero tolerance policy for such cheating, and the student was dismissed from school.

The incident remains with me not just because of the brashness of his offense, but also because of his utter surprise when confronted. Although avoiding plagiarism by employing Modern Language Association guidelines was part of the course curriculum, he appeared flabbergasted that his behavior was unacceptable.

Ironically, the article students were to read and respond to dealt with the decline of original thought in student papers since academic research shifted from the library to the Internet.

Itís no coincidence our nation was founded during the Age of Reason. Our patent and copyright laws say we are a society that values thought and innovation.

Our form of government ó America as the great democratic experiment ó says we believe citizens, when properly educated (hence our built-in government support for public education), can make the right choices on self-governance ó and by extrapolation other important issues.

We are a nation founded on the belief in ideas.

But the Age of Reason is far behind us now, apparently replaced by the Age of Entertainment ó or perhaps the Age of Absorption with Trivia.

In his book ďAmusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business,Ē educator and communications theorist Neil Postman argues television has dumbed down American society, including American politics.

How much more of a threat to thought is the cacophony of non-contextual trivia ó tweets, self-absorbed blogs, forwarded e-mail of pop psychology and warm-and-fuzzy puppy snapshots ó that bombards us through todayís technology?

It seems weíve become a nation of input over ideas.

Itís not that technology is inherently bad ó or inherently good. Itís a tool. Its value stems from how we use it.

When television first arrived on the scene, it was hailed as the university for the common man. The Internet was established by some of our nationís most highly regarded universities so they could share research.

Nor, I suppose, is there anything wrong with cute puppy pictures or sappy pseudo-inspirational poetry, per se. But the constant bombardment of trivial electronic messages takes time away from other tasks.

Itís so much easier to chuckle over YouTube or instant-message friends than to ponder an essayistís meaning and formulate a reasoned response.

And when timeís run out to write that essay, the Internet makes it unthinkably easy to search for, cut and paste, and output othersí ideas, passing them off as oneís own.

It takes time to think original thoughts. One must consider othersí ideas, analyze, synthesize and draw conclusions based on reason.

Being informed is work. Being entertained is so much more fun ó and easier.

But it still takes time.

As Santa Clarita Valley residents prepare to welcome 2010, I wish you the blessing of time ó time set aside to savor new ideas, to become a better-informed citizen, to teach your children the value and the process of thought, as well as the skill to convey those thoughts.

Happy New Year.

Lila Littlejohn is editor of The Signal. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal

02-20-2010, 02:55 PM
Most observers, experts, teachers, principals, administrators and professors agree that today young people find nothing wrong with cheating. Grades are obtained not by how well you do, but how well you cheat. I cannot think of a single person under 30 that would not be shocked at having cheating dealt with as a theft of ideas. It is a matter of course, having no more importance than taking a kleenex.

Ole Glory
02-20-2010, 09:43 PM
Its ok for an illegal alien criminal to come into this country and lie, cheat and steal, but if an American steps out of line, they are severely dealt with.

Deport all illegals just like they dismissed this teenager from school.:mad: