Sunday, January 9, 2011

Someone had to do it

For several months now, I have been finding more unbalanced and/or seemingly biased, one-sided reporting as I watch the local newscasts and read my daily paper. And I have told several people that someone should form a media watchdog committee to challenge them and give the major outlets, the WSVNs and Miami Herald's and Sun Sentinel's of Miami-Dade, a reality check.

Sometimes the bias is obvious. But it's even more dangerous when it is not. Like when it is in something they omit, such as the background of people they write about or the connections they have, or how many other commissioners voted on a particular item that a writer might infer was a purchased vote. If the vote was unanimous it gives it way different context now, doesn't it. Yet that information doesn't make it to the story. Why? Because it's inconvenient?

Another recent bothersome one is the ongoing series of stories about Ana Margarita Martinez's case against the government of Cuba and her trying to collect on a judgement that is 10 years old. Juan Tamayo writes "Left unsaid amid the legal wrangling is the presumption that a Florida judge or jury would be more sympathetic to Martinez, and that a federal court could be more friendly to Washington." (Read more: ... which is such an obvious editorial comment. Really, Juan? That's what you feel is left unsaid? There is a lot more left unsaid. Like that the Cuban government chose not to defend itself 10 years ago in this woman's case. They lost by default. Unsaid is that while they threaten to shut down flights to Cuba because they need that money, they didn't shut down for the short period its been held in escrow and they don't have to pay the approximate $15 million a month income all at once. It would be garnished like a deadbeat dad is garnished a salary. Unsaid is how the attorney for the charter companies in the U.S. who are attorneys are seeking to garnish funds from is the same attorney who works for the Cuban government in all their legal needs, thus showing how this is indeed business with the Cuban government and not some "quasi private" corporation. Unsaid indeed.

Also worrisome is how the background of leaders of a recall PAC (lawsuits, other PACs formed for political convenience), is missing from news stories about the PAC's efforts to recall a county commissioner (originally the group targeted five). These are the same people who do not want anyone to review their petition process. It's not like the media doesn't have this information.
They do. They simply have chosen not to disclose it for now, I guess.

While the media watches the politicians, big businesses the judges and police agencies and citizenry of our fair city and county, who watches them? Nobody, actually. Media outlets get away with saying a lot and, sometimes more importantly, leaving a lot out of a story, without anyone challenging them to prove it or show its context or show why something is more critical than something else. I know that resources are shrinking. I am a result of that, having taken a buy out in 2009 instead of a paycut and forced furlough. But I really do think that it happened in order to put me in this position. Because I will be fair with media. But I demand they be fair with us.

Now, I have many things to write about, and will be mulling over a few in the next few days. But this is really the work of more than one person. I really have been talking and thinking about forming a media watch committee. And so now I invite anyone who might share this interest to contact me about it if they want to serve the public good. No, really.