In our last post on the topic we listed the various news sources that feed the community. This week we have a chance to actually look at the exact same story presented by two sources (and us earlier)!
Here is a lesson in what journalism is, and why in our earlier piece we declared that one of these “news” sources isn’t journalism or news.
The story is the Special Council Meeting. Our take on it can be read here. Now to look at two other versions.
News-Enterprise starts with:
In a special session of the Los Alamitos City Council on Monday night, newly elected council member Richard Murphy resigned as the Mayor Pro Tem to defer the position to council member Gerri Graham-Mejia.
At the last council meeting of 2012, the council reorganized and elected Warren Kusumoto at the mayor for 2013. Murphy was elected mayor pro tem and Mejia expressed her disappointment at having not had the opportunity to serve as mayor or mayor pro tem since the positions are usually rotated among the council.
[quote from Mejia]
After the nomination of Graham-Mejia by Murphy she was voted in as mayor pro tem with a 5-0 approval.
OC-Breeze starts with:
As expected, Mayor Pro Tem Richard Murphy, elected at the December reorganization meeting, resigned in favor of Councilwoman Gerri Graham-Mejia.
Councilwoman Graham-Mejia said that she would have been up for mayor this year, but demurred due to expected health concerns. Hence, Warren Kusumoto was nominated and elected mayor.
Apparently, she had expected to be nominated and elected mayor pro tem, but somebody missed their cue.
Okay, what’s the difference between these?
Both tell you what happened.
But the second one (OC Breeze) is filled with editorializing:
- “As expected”? By whom?
- “Councilwoman Graham-Mejia said that she would have been up for mayor this year, but demurred due to expected health concerns. Hence, Warren Kusumoto was nominated and elected mayor.” That isn’t what I heard at the December meeting. At that meeting Warren was nominated, there were no other nominations, it was seconded and voted on 5-0. At no point during that meeting did anyone nominate or even suggest nominating Mejia for the position, nor did she say anything about health concerns. When reporting it’s not generally accepted that you make up facts. At the January Special Meeting Mejia did state that she couldn’t have accepted the Mayor’s position (not that it was ever offered) due to health concerns. But that was not ever mentioned in the December meeting. In journalism you don’t make up facts to fit your story.
The last paragraph in the OC Breeze story is an interesting OPINION, but how can it be describes as factual. Did the author get a direct quite from Mejia stating that “she expected to be nominated” and then elected, but that someone didn’t do it who was supposed to? Who was supposed to do it that “missed their cue”? What facts does she base this on? Did Warren, Dean, Troy or Richard come up and say “I missed my cue and forgot to nominate her after Richard was nominated.”? Does she have a source that she decided to not tell us about? A direct quote to support the claim that Mejia had arranged for her nomination in December? Anything other than the author’s OPINION?
Don’t stop now, it gets better.
The council was also scheduled to discuss possible approval of a new contract for city employees, but at the advice of the city attorney, they postponed the issue until the next regularly scheduled council meeting on Jan.22.
The issue is set to give city employees a salary increase, which the staff reports says they have not received since 2006… [details of what the report said omitted]
The council is scheduled to have a full discussion of the item at its Jan. 22 meeting, with the opportunity for public comment.
In another demonstration of Council disarray, discussion of the pending labor contract with non-represented City employees had to be put off until the next regular Council meeting due to a new provision of the Brown Act that went into effect with the new year.
This contract was approved by the prior Council. In a cute parliamentary maneuver, then-Councilman Kusumoto torpedoed that approval.
Newly returned Councilman Dean Grose called for the contract to be revisited as soon as possible at a special meeting, apparently ignorant of the new provision of the Brown Act.
Pretty straight forward facts from the News-Enterprise. And more opinion from the OC-Breeze. Let’s look at the facts that were actually there. (1) Grose asked that the item be brought forward at a Special Meeting to be addressed. Fact! (2) The item was placed on the agenda for a Special Meeting. Fact! (3) Discussion of this at a Special Meeting violates the Brown Act. Fact!
Let’s look at some errors. The Brown Act changes went into effect in January of 2012, not in 2013. The contract was NOT approved at the last Regular City Council meeting, but was tabled.
Let’s look for editorial and not news: ”In another demonstration of Council disarray” Since the City Manager works with the City Attorney in establishing the agenda (the City Manager and the City Attorney have both stated that at other meetings) it is surprising that this item appeared on the Agenda at all. One would have hoped that the City Attorney, knowing the Brown Act, would have recognized the item couldn’t have been put forward and made sure it was never put on the agenda in the first place.
If this shows any disarray at all, it points to the City Staff, not the City Council. In that case maybe the city is fortunate that both the people involved have announced that they are leaving their positions.
More editorial: ”This contract was approved by the prior Council. In a cute parliamentary maneuver, then-Councilman Kusumoto torpedoed that approval.” The item was voted on at the last meeting by the out-going council and approved. Then after the new council was seated, at the same meeting, it was brought back for reconsideration, and tabled at the same meeting. The process that was followed was not “cute”, but followed standard rules of order:
Mr. Kusumoto stated before the December vote that since the incoming City Council was going to have to live with the vote on this item he felt that they should have the opportunity to vote on it. Poe, Stephens and Edgar didn’t agree. They had the vote under the outgoing council
Then after the new council was seated Mr. Kusumoto brought the item back up for reconsideration which he was permitted to do under the rules of order. Mr. Murphy had some specific concerns, including but not limited to the lack of public discussion, and asked for the item to be tabled and brought back as a discussion item. The council made a motion to do just that voted to do that.
Note that all the information in italics above is an accurate reporting of the events from the December meeting. Calling it a “cute parliamentary maneuver” that “torpedoed that approval” doesn’t actually report what happened, and is very opinionated. That is called editorial, not news.
More editorial: “apparently ignorant of the new provision of the Brown Act.” It really isn’t Mr. Groses responsibility to be aware of what the Brown Act calls for in regards to what can and can not be placed on the agenda for a Special Meeting. Knowing this is the responsibility of those who are creating the agenda. Whether he was ignorant of the fact or not is not newsworthy. Nor is reporting what he “apparently” did or didn’t know.
Okay, my favorite piece I cut from the above OC-Breeze text because I felt it would be fun to examine it all by itself.
Non-represented City employees must now wait another two weeks to find out whether Mayor Kusumoto’s concern over vacation pay equity has been eased, and J.M. Ivler’s painstaking search for typographical errors has yielded further fruit.
While I find it interesting that Mr. Murphy’s concerns have been entirely ignored, what I like best is that I get honorable mention in a story that has nothing to do with me!
That I seem to do “painstaking search for typographical errors” may come as news to those that know me. I do actually read legally binding contracts to see if they make sense (like the exclusive Solid Waste Franchise Agreement), and when I find a paragraph that makes no sense at all and hear a City Council member state that they read the entire thing and understood it clearly, I call them out for clearly lying about that fact.
If we go back to the tape we can see Mrs. Poe state that she had read it and understands it 100%. Then we see me get up and only ask for her to explain the paragraph that is not in English and makes no sense. Since she can’t explain it, she clearly lied through her teeth that she had read it and understands it.
At this point one would hope that the OC-Breeze would have had enough with the editorial, but alas it continues..
Reinforcing the new Council’s trend of spending lots of time getting nothing done, members agreed to review at the next regular meeting the schedule for seeking a new City Attorney.
As was pointed out here, there were three items on the Agenda that were addressed. They all passed with 5-0 votes. That’s newsworthy. That’s factual. There was a Closed Session. From that Closed Session there were two items announced. That’s newsworthy.
It may be Shelly Henderson’s OPINION that there was lots of time spent getting nothing done, but in the very short (48 minutes) meeting the City Council accomplished three tasks set before it unanimously, and had a closed session where they actually did reportable actions. Those are the facts.
LetsFixLosAl is an editorial blog. We do editorialize and give our opinions. We don’t claim to be a news source, although we do sometimes break stories. We are a blog.
We make every attempt to adhere to a standard of never providing information that is factually incorrect. From an editorial blog getting data that is factually correct, along with editorial commentary is about as good as it gets. It’s great that we have the News-Enterprise that provides weekly journalism that adheres to journalistic standards to provide news.
But as the above analysis shows, the OC-Breeze doesn’t come close to adhering to journalistic standards even though they call themselves news. They editorialize in “news” which disqualifies them from being “news”.
The above also shows that by blogging standards of adhering to facts and not making stuff up, they fail there too. In the past Dave E. would close these with something along the lines of “tell us what you think or have seen and want to comment on in other local news” and would list the “news” sites that serve our community.
As we are putting together new “links” to go at the bottom of the page, please understand that the OC-Breeze doesn’t make the list as either “news” or “blogs” or even “local” as we only will link to places that can at least give you the facts minus the fiction.
We still welcome your reporting and comments on anything you’ve seen of interest in any local, regional, or national media in our Wednesday Media post. Just understand that, until things change, we see no need to provide links to local fiction sources.