Saturday, April 12, 2008

GT vs. DH: Jetboat Racing on the Willamette

Crallspace points out that there's a slight discrepancy in two stories covering the recent cancellation of jetboat races on the Willamette.

The races were cancelled, as far as I know, due to complaints and public outcry regarding the noise and pollution.

How the DH story explains the cancellation and opposition:

Gary Weaver of Crabtree, who serves on the association board and had lobbied to have the races based in Albany, said the event was called off because it had not yet heard from the State Marine Board and was running out of time.

...

The planned event got opposition from Willamette Riverkeeper, a Portland-based conservation group which suggested Detroit Lake as a better venue, the Corvallis Gazette-Times reported.


How the GT handles the same:

“(The Marine Board) just had too many letters of complaint,” said Tim Harding, SOPBA vice president. “The end result was to take it to a community that wanted us.”

...

Ashley Massey, spokeswoman for the Marine Board, said the agency had received more than 1,000 e-mails and letters about the race. She said the letters had not yet been tallied to determined how many were against the event and how many were in support.

...

Conservation organization Willamette Riverkeeper encouraged its 1,500 members to urge the Marine Board to deny the application. The group officially opposed the race and argued that a better location would be Detroit Lake or some other body of water where motorboating is more common.


Do you see the discrepancy? The DH story completely omits any context as to why there was opposition or who the opposition was (it was more complex than Willamette Riverkeeper), instead relying on pro-jetboat sources.

It reads like a retyped press release.

This is not meant to be an attack on the reporter who wrote the DH story. There are plenty of possible reasons the story was garbage that have nothing to do with the reporter.

However, the fact remains that the DH story was bad journalism. It lacked important information and context regarding the event.

I wonder if we'll see a follow-up or correction. Something tells me the DH editor won't see the need.

4 comments:

Roxy said...

"Ashley Massey, spokeswoman for the Marine Board, said the agency had received more than 1,000 e-mails and letters about the race. She said the letters had not yet been tallied to determined how many were against the event and how many were in support."

So.. there isn't an actual count of "for" or "against" comments on the races, but the GT uses the lead that the number of complaints is the reason for the cancellation? So... how many complaints were there? Seems like you should KNOW that before a reporter uses it in a lead and as the frame of the story.

Dennis said...

There's some wiggle room - not only were the letters not the only form of public outcry, but it's possible to know that the majority of the letters were against it and not have an exact count.

It requires far too close a reading of the story to get information out of it, however.

And if you read the GT story, the fact that the Marine Board got too many letters in opposition comes from some Powerboating Association person, not the Marine Board spokesperson.

Hm.

Matt said...

You might find this blog post interesting:
http://www.gazettetimes.com/gtblogs/matt_neznanski/?p=53
In a GT and DH poll, respondents on either side of the river responded very differently to these boat races.

Anonymous said...

The Marine Board said they had no for/against count, but did say many letters were duplicates. I don't see how you can confidently state that the "vast majority" of letters were against it based on the information reported in either paper.

One organizer said that they issue wasn't opposition, it was time. The races will be held; it was just a question of where. At mid-April, the race organizers had to have a set location.

You call the DH piece "bad and imply the GT piece was "good," ignoring that the GT piece didn't mention one obvious benefit of the races: money. The DH highlighted the tourism dollars lost. The GT highlighted anti-race people victorious. Both were incomplete.

 
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