The Union prints more lies about Measure B without routine fact checking

This blog has long criticized our little community newspaper for sloppy fact checking on its letters. During the campaign season, the letters section becomes a forum for free political ads, without any scrutiny from the management.

Here’s the latest example of The Union getting used, from a person named Rosalie Baker of Nevada City:

“A no vote on Measure B will be the first time I have not supported a school measure in over 50 years. The purchase of a $3 million building to house the Superintendent of Schools staff and creating a juvenile delinquent school within the Earle Jamison continuation school with a ratio of two staff to one student, shows fiscal irresponsibility. Perhaps Superintendent of Schools Holly Hermansen, and the school board, should review current assets and budget distribution. I would say yes to a measure to reduce administration costs and increase our current underpaid teacher’s salaries.”

Here’s what’s wrong with this letter:

  1. This refrain “the first time” keeps recurring in the letters. This Measure is hardly as irresponsible as the critics make it seem. I just visited the Nevada Union High campus last week and observed the needs for the upgrades that Measure B seeks to address. Has Rosalie Baker, George Boardman and Wade Freedle toured the schools? In addition, this local Measure is being caught in a widespread ideological campaign that has nothing to do with the specific problems facing our local schools. The background is here. This ideological outfit describes itself as a “clearinghouse opposing the coming deluge in school and community college bonds.”

2. Measure B has nothing to do with the purchase of a $3 million building to house the Superintendent of Schools staff. It is an “apples and oranges” comparison. The facts about Measure B are here. The press release about the building is here.

3. “… shows fiscal irresponsibility?” What is this letter writer talking about? This contradicts The Union’s own reporting. On May 8 it wrote: “According to the release, owning the Crown Point Circle facility would save the superintendent of schools office an estimated $60,000 per year for the first 15 years of ownership.”

The Union is doing the community and its readers a great disservice by not fact checking the letters that it publishes. It is sloppy and irresponsible journalism.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

9 thoughts on “The Union prints more lies about Measure B without routine fact checking”

  1. I know you have a vendetta against the Union, but come on! Do you “fact check” the comments on your blog? Letters should be free to express the WRITER’S opinions. They should not have to conform to the views of the paper printing them – and thank God! We need to hear a variety of opinions – especially ones we may disagree with. That’s how people with OPEN MINDS learn. Nobody ever learned anything speaking to the choir.

  2. Oh Patricia,
    I have no more of a “vendetta” than YOU have a conflict of interest because The Union publishes a “for profit” cannabis publication with YOUR name on the masthead. http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk//launch.aspx?eid=6ba44882-c131-4165-af7c-c1f1de24e64c
    The comments/inuendo in this letter are NOT FACTUAL. It is the RESPONSIBILITY of the news organization to check the facts. It’s called Journalism 101.
    Look, here YOU are again in an EXCLUSIVE, one-sided interview in The Union: https://youtu.be/PLPQfrSn2R8
    roflol.

  3. Here’s the New York Times printed policy on letters:
    “Letter writers, to use a well-worn phrase, are entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts. There is, of course, a broad gray area in which hard fact and heartfelt opinion commingle. But we do try to verify the facts, either checking them ourselves or asking writers for sources of information. Sometimes we goof, and then we publish corrections.”

  4. Thanks for your reporting Jeff.The paper is never going to change because that’s the culture that exists at Swift.A black eye for journalism,very sad.Podunk!!

  5. It seems I’m not alone on this issue. Here’s what’s been posted on TheUnion.com. So what’s YOUR problem Patricia?

    Francis Mcfadden · CSU Sacramento
    Measure B is for needed repairs and modifications to NJUHSD. No money has been proposed for the purchase of a new building for NJUHSD. The Superintendent of that school district is Dr. Louise Johnson. Holly Hermansen is the superintendent for the Nevada County Office of Education.

    Irene Frazier · Grass Valley, California
    The writer seems to be confusing Nevada Union with the County District. I wish we could get fact checkers on these letters.

    Francis Mcfadden · CSU Sacramento
    It is frustrating when wrong information is given such public emphasis.

  6. I guess I’m for freedom of speech even when I vehemently disagree with the opinion being offered. And anyone who wants to silence someone’s opinion needs to ask themselves, what if the tables were turned and you are the one being censored?

    Yes, I support the Union – as I support YubaNet, KVMR and KNCO. They all strive to enlighten our community. And they all have people who express opinions I do not agree with.

    You seem to suggest that I cannot be objective because I contribute to the paper. You are entitled to you opinion. See how that works?

    1. Patricia,
      The issue is not free speech. The issue is exercising editorial judgment.
      As stated many times above in Miami Herald v. Tornillo: “A newspaper is more than a passive receptacle or conduit for news, comment, and advertising. The choice of material to go into a newspaper, and the decisions made as to limitations on the size and content of the paper, and treatment of public issues and public officials — whether fair or unfair — constitute the exercise of editorial control and judgment.”
      And no, I absolutely do not think you can be objective about The Union, because you have a business-related conflict of interest. And I’m not sure you understand the role of exercising editorial judgment, either.

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