Journalism that stands apart in The Union

All week we’ve been trying to get George Boardman, the “know-it-all” community journalist to understand big-city journalism. (He never made it to the big leagues but he pretends).

This morning’s edition of The Union is a “teachable moment” for George if he would just listen up.

First with the newsroom vocabulary and news judgment. The front-page story in The Union this morning “Richardson to return to Auburn as City Manager” is what’s known as the “lede” in newspaper parlance. It is the news story deemed most important by the newspaper. In most papers, the lede appears on the front page at the top of the right-hand column, as it does here.

By contrast, the “centerpiece” is “Asking for the gift of life.” It refers to a photo and story that go together in a prominent display on the front page.

The other day, George got this backwards. It was one of the most foolish things he’s written, apparently an effort to stay in the good graces of the newsroom management as his paid weekly column increasingly comes under fire from the community.

Now for the integrity part of journalism. The Union got scooped by The Auburn Journal on its “lede” story about Richardson leaving (still the lede because it is big government news in Grass Valley). This is Tuesday’s paper; The Journal reported this on Saturday.

Sadly, The Union didn’t have the integrity to credit the Auburn Journal. Good newspapers do that, even if it hurts their pride. It’s a respect issue. Here’s an example of the Journal correctly handling this issue with integrity.
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The Union columnist Boardman now likens Nevada City to Compton

The Union’s paid weekly columnist George Boardman often maligns Nevada City. Now he is likening the Queen of the Northern Mines to Compton, south of Los Angeles, where historic riots have occurred.

I commented the other day that our son’s bike was stolen from our front porch in Nevada City. It was unfortunate. But George goes too far, including making up that I have written about “cars on blocks” in the neighborhood. I haven’t.

To be humorous, I suppose, George concludes: “You would think that he lives in Compton instead of The Queen of the Northern Mines.”

What a ridiculous remark on numerous fronts. Is hiring George a “growth strategy” for The Union?

“Explaining today’s newspapers” for The Union’s paid columnist George Boardman

The Union’s paid weekly columnist George Boardman never made it to a big-city newspaper, as we’ve reported previously. He wears it on his shoulder as a big chip, and it shows each week with his column in The Union, our community newspaper. Letter writers regularly point to errors in George’s columns, and he has to run corrections himself. One recent example is here.

For whatever reason, The Union continues to hang on to him as a columnist. As one local put it on Facebook this weekend: “Why does this man even get a column? He is an idiot. What are his credentials, if any?” — Sue Williams Clark

Though he claims to be a “newspaperman” George is unclear about some basic terms used by journalists, such as “lead,” “off lead,” and so on. He showed his ignorance this week when seeking to defend why The Union led the paper with an article of a protest of just 25 people (a political decision, not a journalistic one).

For George’s education here are some common terms:

Lead or “lede” in newspaper parlance: “The news story deemed most important by the newspaper,” as Slate explains. “In most papers, the lead appears on the front page at the top of the right-hand column.”

Off-lead or “off-lede”: The second most important news story of the day. The off-lead appears either in the top left corner, or directly below the lead on the right.

Hope this helps.

Union columnist Boardman chides Heidi Hall for expressing her first-amendment rights

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A candidate for Pink Hat Project!

The paid Union columnist George Boardman, king of  the curmudgeon, “get off my lawn” movement in our community, has a problem with incoming County Supervisor Heidi Hall expressing her first amendment rights.

In an insulting tone “Supervisor Heidi Hall’s on the job … in Washington,” Boardman writes on his blog:

“When Heidi Hall was sworn in recently as the new District 1 supervisor, she said she has a lot of things she wants to accomplish … but that doesn’t mean she can’t find time in her schedule to stand in solidarity with her sisters in Washington D.C. this weekend.” “Sisters”?

Hall is part of a peaceful march but Boardman — in the same paragraph — lumps that group with “festivities (that) included street violence, vandalism and the arrest of at least 100 demonstrators after Donald Trump took the oath of office.”

No, George, you’ve got the wrong group. And “brothers” (AKA men) also were marching with “sisters” in the peaceful march.

“Hopefully, Hall can avoid such unpleasantness and return to Nevada County in time for Tuesday’s supervisors meeting so that she can, you know, get to work on cannabis regulations, helping the homeless and getting ready for the fire season,” he concludes.

George and his like-minded “brothers” ought to be prepared for an invigorated group from our local left that likely will continue to shift the local political scene in their direction — not his.

I guess George forgot that in the election Heidi Hall won her race handily, and Hillary Clinton carried our County. Kamala Harris also carried our County. And Tom McClintock lost in our County while Doug LaMalfa won narrowly.

George Boardman would be well advised to trade his little tin foil hat for a pink-knit hat. (I came up with a rendering of what he might look like in a pink hat, choosing a fashionable one).

As for The Union, I keep wondering how George Boardman is a “growth strategy” for its own future. He is a “declining, aging” strategy.

Boardman: A “get off my lawn” column directed at our schools

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9ryvxqhThe Union’s paid columnist, George Boardman (AKA “Bored” Georgeman), this week is using his column to advocate for a “no” vote on Measure B — a selfish and short-sighted perspective that undermines our schools, our children, and exemplifies the geezerish “get off my lawn” mindset that is counterproductive to our community’s progress.

He claims “Measure B” doesn’t pass the “smell test.” He blathers on — taking a cue from the “talking points” of none other than Wade Freedle, the tea party and State of Jefferson activist. Wade’s spouse, Fran, was active in county politics during a “bitterly divided” political scene. Real role models for community progress.

What’s missing is that George never got up out of his arm chair in his “gated” community and actually visited the schools, the students and the administrators to get the real “scoop.” If he had, he would have seen the value of this $47 million bond issue. He would have heard about the need firsthand.

Broken gas main at NU
Broken gas pipe at NU

“Our facilities are in urgent need of safety upgrades and basic repairs, as our schools have broken plumbing and bathrooms, aging fire prevention and electrical systems, outdated wiring for computer technology and limited access for students with disabilities,” as the “Yes on B” campaign notes.

This week, I’ve been invited to return to Nevada Union High to address the AP government class. I enjoy having a dialogue with the students, hearing about their concerns, and learning firsthand what issues concern them.

I’ve been asked to speak about the role of media and politics. “I am sure they will be interested in hearing about a small town newspaper versus a publication like the San Francisco Chronicle or Time magazine, as well as the role of social media,” I was told.

I’ll ask the students — among our “best and brightest” — what they thought of George’s column and The Union newspaper in general. (I’ll bring along a copy of George’s column just in case they missed it).

I’ll ask them whether they think The Union management does a good job of reflecting their perspective, whether it’s Measure “B” or anything else, in the newspaper. And whether it is helping to lead our community in the right direction.

Businesses now write about themselves on the front page of The Union: How’s that for journalism?

Here’s a novelty: The Union is letting businesses and/or nonprofits write about themselves on the front page of the newspaper.

In this case, Brent Bentley, the Associate Director of InConcert Sierra, has written an article about none other than InConcert Sierra in an article titled “Setting the Stage: InConcert Sierra continues to bring world-class entertainment to Nevada County.”

It’s a nice article, but that’s what The Union’s paid journalists are supposed to do.

If that wasn’t enough, Brett’s byline runs on the front page as “Brett Bentley, BBentley@TheUnion.com.” Has Brett rejoined The Union staff at the same time she is Associate Director of InConcert Sierra? Her name is not listed in the masthead.

Perhaps Dick Tracy, The Union’s former gardening writer, can help sort all this out. This weekend The Union published a letter from Dick calling The Union “a very good newspaper.”

He added, “I enjoy radio, too, but, having worked for UPI many moons ago I know the radio copy comes off the wires and is a almost entirely a rewrite of newspapers. Count how many reporters are working at local radio outlets. You’ll only need the fingers on one hand.”

To count The Union reporters, you have to include businesses that write about themselves and rumored political candidates who would like to build a base.

You can’t make this stuff up!

George Boardman: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”

Poor “Bored Georgeman.” My blog has him all tied up in knots. I’m just holding up a mirror to his “commentary,” from asinine claims that YubaNet is “smoke and mirrors” to egregious errors such as confusing the Folsom dam with the Auburn dam. Duh!

All the talent that we have in our community, and The Union chooses a fossil with a resume of jumping from one podunk newspaper to another (and then into p.r.) as its paid weekly columnist. He is not reflective of our community.

But don’t take my word for it: Ask around. I wonder if the new publisher, Mr. Rogers, is asking around. He should be.

I guess it reflects The Union’s demographics — aging and declining. George at least ought to upgrade his email account from “AOL” to “gmail.” After all, it’s 2016, not 1998. ROFLOL.

Scoop: Iconic Tripp’s plans to expand and share Liberty Motors site in Grass Valley

269722_166328103436578_793864_nTripp’s Auto Body has been serving Grass Valley since 1954. It epitomizes the family owned business that is the lifeblood of our local economy and is legendary for “giving back” to the community.

Now three generations and over 60 years later, Tripp’s plans to take the next step to a larger facility — the Liberty Motors site on Freeman Lane — from a few downtown locations, Sierra Foothills Report has learned. Tripp’s home has been at 127 Stewart Street, and it has expanded on East Main St. over the years.

“We are in escrow with 600 Freeman Lane (Liberty Motors) and are looking to move our entire facility under one roof,” Darrol Tripp and his nephew Todd Tripp wrote in a letter to the City of Grass Valley this month, which I reviewed. Darrol’s dad Arlie opened the body shop, which has grown to over 15 employees.

Tripp’s is proposing a leaseback to Liberty Motors with the used car dealership utilizing a portion of the property — “thus ensuring continued Liberty Motors jobs and tax revenue to the city from car sales,” the Tripps wrote. The plan calls for a portable office to the south side of the property for continued car sales.

“With this move, we are looking forward to creating more jobs and having continued growth with the support of our community,” they concluded.

The City of Grass Valley planning commission is due to address the proposal on May 17. I’m optimistic it will pass — being a “win-win” proposition for Tripp’s and the City.

Though it would be ideal to have two car new car dealerships at Liberty Motors and the former Weaver Auto site — as once was the case — this plan allows Tripp’s to continue expanding. Last November, Chris’ Collision was sold to Caliber, a Texas-based chain of auto body shops, at the former Weaver site.

(Photo: Tripp’s)

Memo to Don Bessee: “Madame Pantsuits” beats Trump in marijuana scorecard

Our local anti-marijuana activist Don Bessee is one of the nastiest local activists around — like so many others on our local hard right. He often attacks the person, rather than their idea.

Bessee repeatedly refers to former U.S. Senator, former Secretary of State and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton as “Madame Pantsuits” on the hard-right blogs, such as “Rebane’s Ruminations.” Don makes other nasty personal references to local progressives. 

“Madame Pantsuit” is a pejorative, immature and sexist reference to the former Secretary of State about her appearance. Don doesn’t belong in a community leader role.

Yet Bessee thrusts himself into the local spotlight as a self-appointed local spokesman for “Smart Approaches to Marijuana,” opposing legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes. He shows up at county Board of Supervisors meetings and writes Other Voices to lambast the “other side.”

Well here’s some news for Don: “Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, picked up a “B-” from SAM on a “marijuana scorecard” while Donald Trump, a leading Republican contender and businessman, received a “C+.” The rankings are here.

“Clinton was in the middle of the pack because she doesn’t support marijuana legalization but would support states ‘experimenting’ with legalization, according to the group,” Masslive.com reports. “She has expressed reservations about ‘medical’ marijuana, but does support overhaul of the criminal justice system to avoid incarcerating low-level drug users, and supports treatment-based approach to addiction issues,’ the group added.”

As for Trump, SAM states: “Mr. Trump opposes legalization of marijuana, but would allow states to legalize its use. He supports “medical” marijuana programs. He has not articulated a position on sentencing issues concerning marijuana possession and use.”

Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Ben Carson all got “A’s,” according to SAM, but none of them are in the race anymore.

The Union’s owner sells its Roseburg, Ore., newspaper, but snaps up another mountain resort newspaper

Park Record was once in my great-gramps family
Park Record was once in my great-gramps family (Credit: Park City magazine)

What is the strategy of The Union’s parent, Nevada-based Swift Communications, going into the New Year and beyond?  We wouldn’t know much from reading The Union. But as the year winds down, here’s some news to ponder, gathered from elsewhere:

As the year drew to a close, Swift sold the Roseburg News-Review, a subscription-based broadsheet that caters to an older demographic (like The Union) around the same time it bought another newspaper in a mountain resort town (like its Vail Daily and Aspen Times). And this is a hoot: the newspaper Swift bought, the Park Record in Park City, Utah, was once in the hands of my great-grandfather’s family (more details below).

•In September, without fanfare, Swift sold the Roseburg, Ore., News-Review to Roseburg-based Lotus Media. It was announced on Sept. 3 in a mere five-sentence article in the Roseburg newspaper.  Jeff Ackerman (once a publisher of The Union) “will continue” as publisher and editor of The News-Review and http://www.nrtoday.com, according to the Sept. 3 press release. “I’m pleased to be part of this local ownership and looking forward to running what is now a locally owned and operated independent newspaper,” Ackerman said in the press release. The local television station report is here.

Yet a few months later, on Dec. 20, Ackerman announced he was retiring from the Roseburg, Ore., newspaper on New Year’s Day. He wrote: “It’s time for a parade. ‘Jeff,’ a guy once advised. ‘If they decide to run you out of town, get to the head of the line and make it look like a parade.’ I’m retiring New Year’s Day, and I can’t think of a better day for a parade.” Ackerman and the Roseburg, Ore., newspaper no longer appear on Swift’s corporate website.

•At around the same time  Swift sold the Roseburg newspaper, the closely held newspaper chain purchased the Park City Record, a ski-town newspaper. “The acquisition of the publication in Park City adds another mountain-town newspaper to the Nevada-based company’s collection,” as the AP reported on Dec. 1. “The company already owns the Snowmass Sun, Aspen Times, Summit Daily News and Vail Daily in Colorado and the Tahoe Daily Tribune and Sierra Sun in California.”

The Park Record publishes twice a week. “Swift Communications’ chairman and chief executive officer Bill Toler agrees that The Park Record is a good fit for the company,” the Park Record reported. “Swift Communications feels a deep connection and commitment to mountain communities and resort markets.”

“Specifically, Toler noted the benefits of networking with publications in other resort towns.”

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds. As an aside, The Park City Record was in the hands of my great-grandfather Raddon’s family in the late 1800s. More details are here. I was close to my great-grandpa as a child; he later went to work at the L.A. Times. My grandmother and I also discussed his newspaper life.

As a result, I hope Swift is a good steward. But Swift’s track record as a chain owner is mixed. One example that made the national media is here. Some have dubbed Swift “McMountain News.

I did not read about either the sale of the Roseburg newspaper or the purchase of the Park Record in The Union, but it would be interesting to know exactly how Nevada-based Swift feels The Union (a subscription-based broadsheet that caters to an aging, declining demographic) is a good long-term fit for the company.

My own thinking is that The Union is a better fit for The Auburn Journal’s owner, Gold Country Media, rather than Swift, but that’s just a personal opinion. Gold Country Media is owned by another out-of-town newspaper chain, Brehm Communications of San Diego. At any rate, the newspaper industry is in a great state of flux in the New Year and beyond. And our community is touched by this.