Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Editorial: Reliable Reporting vs. Reliable Sources

I'm writing this editorial unedited without stopping, straight from the heart... from my keyboard to your eyes (sort of like the expression: 'from your lips to God's ear')...

Dear Sunland Tujunga,
Writers must always remember that there are no  'reliable sources' as all of us are human and falter in our efforts, are clumsy in our helpfulness, and unwittingly interject strong opinion as though it were genuine fact... before passing it on to writers.

Writers have to be so much more responsible than their sources in discernment, checking against known evidence or resources, discounting emotional information, denying themselves 'a story' if there is any doubt or lack of evidence to confirm it. That responsibility is the writers code, and sources (reliable or not) have no responsibility to fact-check their information nor do they bear the responsibility of error if they are wrong. Sources are allowed to talk 'off the cuff' and encouraged to do so. Those unedited conversations should NOT make it into print.

Writers however DO bear responsibility. The spoken word is strong enough but the written word circles the world thanks to the internet. That written word MUST be true. Occasional errors happen and that's what "corrections" are for: to set the record straight. However, if a writer has too many 'corrections' (or none at all) they may not be accurate anymore... that's a fate worse than death for a writer. None of us wants that. For ourselves or each other.

Several inaccuracies have come out in reports concerning key players in the controversial Samoa Project currently in play in Tujunga and Council Chambers. I attended meetings, reported on them and stand by my report. Yet my report differs widely from another's. Those who did not attend the meetings used 'reliable sources' who did.

I have spoken to those sources and the hugeness of the Samoa Project is foremost in their mind; it overshadows reason. Its not that the project isn't huge: in fact it is! But the approach must be step by step. That is my method of reporting vs. others. That is how I viewed the meeting... as a step by step proposal. That's how I approach anything bigger than I am! Step by step...

Now a 'reliable source' suffers needlessly for sharing opinionated information no fact check would have allowed unedited. Meanwhile an inaccurate report goes on record and a Council Office must write to dispute it. You can read the letters here: The plot thickens... and real issues get shunted aside in favor of misinformation. This is the most alarming result of the situation... residents of Sunland Tujunga lose sight of the issues they CAN have an impact on!

I urge this community. Do not lose focus. Do not speak to issues that are not key to the controversy that is the Samoa Project. Reply only to topics such as: population density, inaccuracies regarding reports of affordable housing in the area, crime and gangs, lack of parking, historical preservation and Bolton Hall, lack of curbs, rainwater flooding, narrow streets, school issues and child safety, fire fighters lack of access, scenic preservation, neighborhood character, lack of greenspace, inadequate parkland, construction pollution... have I given you enough?

I could go on but I'd rather see you at a meeting... please participate. There's nothing like first hand knowledge.

Brock Ba'jer
Aka Terre Ashmore


arspoetica said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
arspoetica said...

"Meanwhile an inaccurate report goes on record and a Council Office must write to dispute it. You can read the letters here: The plot thickens... and real issues get shunted aside in favor of misinformation." -Brock Ba'jer-

I don't know about the rest of you, but I've tried for hours to view the link referred to above for the Councilmember's office's response to what was characterized as "an inaccurate report" and "misinformation." Nothing there but big blank squares.

Sometimes "misinformation" is simply no information. No information on this link a day after it goes up; just like the no-information policy toward the community by the council office in the months preceding the council vote on public funding for the Samoa Project, as well as the six months since. Until Mr. Torossian's appearance Monday night, of course, and its own particular brand of misinformation.

Brock Ba'jer said...

Arspoetica, I've tried the link and it works albeit slow to load. The letter in question comes up and there are additional links for letters on the Samoa Project and to Planning.