Recently, the local paper has produced what can only be described as awful editorials regardless of which side of the opinion you’re on. As is the paper’s habit, it doesn’t bother building an argument it simply makes a collection of unsupported declarative statements. “Mollusk survival is not their real concern”, for one, and in the case of the recent “mollusk” piece it throws in a few folksy colloquialisms like “that dog won’t hunt”.
Then the paper proceeds to prove they haven’t read the 67 page report from a hearings officer, Andrew Stamp, regarding a natural gas pipeline through Haynes Inlet they claim to be citing. Stamp suggested in his recommendation that the record be re-opened by the Commissioners in order to allow Pacific Connector to correct a technicality opponents of the project had courteously pointed out to them and yet the company failed to correct. The paper calls this “an astonishing ploy” by a local activist.
The paper says the oyster “need not fear a pipeline inflicted slaughter”, but Stamp’s recommendation does not say that these Oysters will be okay. He suggest imposing additional conditions that would be required before the county land use permit would be valid that essentially passes this issue on to the next level. In other words, if his suggested conditions are accepted by the Coos County Commissioners other permitting agencies will have to include these conditions.
This editorial was a deliberate hit piece on Jody McCaffree and the paper ought to be above that sort of thing but resorting to bad information to try and make a point is just plain dishonest.
Next, the paper published a quote from Messerle about federal land ownership in the county. The reporter stands by Messerle’s quote but what Messerle said is false, the federal government does not own half of the county, it owns 24%, and so publishing a wrongful statement without providing the proper information leaves the public with the same bad information. This problem is so pervasive that the paper followed up with another badly written editorial a day later saying the government owns the “lion’s share” of the county. Even the paper believes its own misinformation which should demonstrate the importance of going beyond just stenography when reporting on public matters.
Verifying these quotes doesn’t take a lot of time. Public lands in Coos County, federal, state and local, comprise 33% of the total land mass of more than a million acres. That is not the lion’s share. At least four of the current county candidates, including Messerle have made false statements about public land ownership in Coos County and Oregon and the paper has so far done nothing to correct their own perpetuation of bad information.
If the paper expects to be taken seriously it should respect its readers enough to vet the facts it publishes.