Sunday, August 05, 2012
Award winning Journalist, My Ass
It is time again to take another hard look at our local newspaper, The Mountain Echo and its publisher Walter (everything unfit for print) Caldwell. What has spurred this event is the discovery of the, Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp , which clearly spells out the do’s and don’ts of journalism. Unfortunately, all his awards and accolades aside, Mr. Caldwell is provably a serial offender of this code.
Not once, but on numerous occasions Caldwell has been caught mischaracterizing, fabricating or downright misquoting subjects in his articles about the Fall River Mills Community Services District (CSD). He has been (at least over the past two years, since his favorite ex-CSD manager decided to not continue his tenure) at war with the CSD Board in general and our latest manager in particular, despite the accomplishments of the new leadership.
Aiding and abetting this verbal violator, adverb absconder, semi-colon criminal and grammar graffiti artist is non-other than bureaucratic lackey- come-Attila the Hun, LAFCO (Local Area Formation Counsel) director Amy Mickelson. On more than one occasion, Caldwell has printed direct quotes from Mickelson that are not only untrue, but not found in law either. And at least once, Caldwell printed direct quotes from Mickelson to CSD communications that were not received at the CSD until the day the Echo was on the stand. Now that is fast reporting, since the Echo only comes out once a week.
In fact, it has become a competitive exercise to see how many mistakes Caldwell makes between a Wednesday CSD general meeting and the following Tuesday’s Echo. On several Tuesday’s I am left to wonder if Mr. Caldwell and I were at the same meeting, with all the mischaracterizations and outright fabrications. It got so bad that I requested the CSD to announce at the beginning of every meeting: “If anyone from the Press does not understand what took place at this meeting, please ask questions before you leave, so that we will not see your ignorance in print on Tuesday”.
So far they haven’t taken me up on it and have “suffered in silence” since.
A few months ago, after a LAFCO Executive Board meeting, The Echo printed a direct misquote my wife had made at that Board meeting. Problem for Mr. Caldwell was that she was reading directly from a prepared text. Rightfully so, she walked into Caldwell’s office with quote in hand. He printed an anemic correction the next week. Problem is he never learns from his mistakes (well you can’t really call these mistakes, because they are either chronic ignorance or a determined effort to deceive, both wrong on so many levels) and plods forward on a quest to get public opinion against the CSD and its manager.
A few days ago I received a disturbing call from an old friend, questioning the motives and direction of the CSD and its manager. Problem was he was mostly quoting the Echo. I cautioned him that Walt Caldwell was either an idiot or had an unending grudge against the current administration and board of the CSD. I reminded my friend that nobody, I mean nobody, had said a word while the previous 20 years of managers and boards squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars of ratepayer money, right under the nose of the Echo. But they are now are all up in fabricated outrage over distorted and manufactured drama that would make the National Enquirer, The Globe or the Star blush.
But not good ole crazy uncle Walt. He just keeps on cranking out his version of reality, in head to head competition with the best of the Paranoid Schizophrenics on the Thorazine highway.
Our problem, as a responsible community, is to have a vehicle that can rebut the lunacy that is being spread by our sole source of local news. Ergo, you are reading this on Dumbplumber, because the panty wearing ‘wussus’ in the next town over refused to respond to my email request for space in what they represent as a ‘newspaper’. It just goes to show you how incompetent a competing newspaper is when they allow a raving loon to destroy the reputations of good and honest people trying to do the right thing.
Meanwhile, the Dumbplumber is at the helm, bringing you an accurate accounting of what the CSD is doing for the community, and what the misinformed community is trying to do to the CSD. You just can’t make this up, but leave it to the Mt. Echo to keep trying.