Friday, June 22, 2007

Just the Facts

When someone says "we report - you decide" most of us are naturally suspicious that the speaker is anything but impartial. If I'm truly impartial, I don't have to tell you. It'll be evident.

In the 25 years I've lived here, I've always thought that the San Jose Mercury News was professional in its news coverage. Not, for example, the New York Post or Fox News. They didn't have to say so - it was evident. Or so I thought.

The Merc's headline last Wednesday about the BAREC vote last Tuesday was surprising given my prior understanding: "Santa Clara council approves housing project for its last farmland." That's not a news report. It's an editorial. They might as well have said, "Santa Clara council proves once again that it's in developer's pocket."

Now an editorial can construe the facts any way the writer wants. And we know that it's the opinion of the Merc's editorial board that Santa Clara Council Members are tools of development interests. But regardless, a news story should have the facts correct.

And the fact is, regardless of the merits of the decision, BAREC isn't and never was farmland. It was a place where among other types of research, insecticides were studied in the 1950s when a cornucopia of new synthetic pesticides were called modern miracles for fighting pests and weeds.

Funny, I didn't notice any such headlines about the new Kaiser Hospital development on another "last" piece of farmland on Lawrence Expressway. Could that be because Kaiser is a rich potential source of advertising?

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