Friday, August 24, 2012

Editorial: The Newspaper of Record, In Short Supply for Sunland Tujunga

Originally published 8/24/2012; this post refutes journalistic claims made by David "Doc" DeMulle, a formerly unknown photo-journalist who joined Sunland-Tujunga's "No 2 Home Depot" campaign (he later told a source he was the burglar who broke into the Home Depot attorney's offices to steal critical documents) and initiated his non-profit 'newspaper' which was thrown into local front yards as a campaign outreach. After the campaign, Doc published The Foothills Paper as self expression, using it to retaliate against Sunland-Tujungans he is at odds with. His increasingly libelous articles escape prosecution because he targets those unable to afford the expense of lawsuits.

The Foothills Paper no longer calls itself "The Newspaper of Record for Sunland Tujunga". The only publication to entirely earn and hold that distinction was Sunland Tujunga's historic Record Ledger which ceased publication some 20 years ago. I was a reporter and proofreader for that newspaper in the 70s.

"The Newspaper of Record" is a privileged term in journalism; highly desired and seldom earned. It comes from "The Newspaper of Public Record" which refers literally to publications approved by government sources to print legal notices. Legal notices are the bread and butter of the advertising department; they are a steady source of income. "Legals" must run a certain number of issues to satisfy court orders. They are paid copy and very valuable to a publication, which must have a high circulation and matching reputation to qualify to run them. The Foothills Paper doesn't run legals. The Record Ledger ran pages of them; I thought I'd go blind proofing that fine print.

"The Newspaper of Record" (not 'Public Record') is a term equally clear in its demands upon a publication to qualify for such distinction. According to Wikipedia, in order to call itself such, the publication must "typically consist of those newspapers that are considered to meet higher standards of journalism than most print media (including editorial independence and attention to accuracy) and are usually renowned." That does not describe The Foothills Paper.
The Foothills Paper once called itself the newspaper of record for the Sunland Tujunga community. It was not qualified to do so. Not one of the above qualifications can be said of The Foothills Paper. It does not have a high circulation or a high reputation. It does not meet higher standards, nor attention to accuracy and is not renowned. Infamous, yes... renowned, no.

On the other hand, "Yellow Journalism" according to Wikipedia "presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines...Techniques may include exaggeration of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism. By extension, the term yellow journalism is used today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion."

Now what disturbs me in this whole thought provoking discussion is the blatant use and abuse by The Foothills Paper to capitalize on current community controversy by promising angry Sunland brick and mortar restaurants their "side" will be addressed in The Foothills Paper re: the Food Truck Standoff if they agree to be a distribution point for The Foothills Paper. Many of these locations never distributed (or read) this paper before. Most of them do not advertise in The Foothills Paper as required by the paper to be distributors.

This is a frank effort by The Foothills Paper to advance the controversy rather than report it. It is a disservice to both sides of the issue and an unethical attempt to 'make the news' then report it. Doc DeMulle, the publisher of The Foothills Paper had to be ordered by Councilman Alarcon to leave the meeting last week between supporters of the Food Truck Night and brick and mortar stores. An independent source says Doc resisted the order but the audience agreed he should leave. No press was allowed to attend the meeting. Neither side apparently believes in the press anymore... there is no Newspaper of Record for our community of Sunland Tujunga. Where is Philip Horwith, Lucy Colville, and Jennifer Olson when you need them?