Tag: journalism

Mr. Newspaperman: In Response to the Response

Kuna Melba News, June 12, 2014

I relish the opportunity to educate people on what journalism is and what it isn’t. It seems that some folks have a really warped sense of the art of news. I enjoyed the response (above) by Mitch Coffman, a man hired to defend any inferred or implied insult upon a political organization such as the Idaho Freedom Foundation. But first, I want to address some of the rhetoric that comes straight out the right-wing playbook. Attack the messenger.

As I recall, this is exactly what my article was about, “Don’t Shoot the Messenger When You Aim for the Apple on my Head, May 14, 2014.” In his first sentence, he accuses me of an attack. I assure you, reporting the truth is never an attack. It is defense.

Let me set Mr. Coffman straight. I was simply connecting the dots. I did my research and while the IFF may have great support, both politically and financially from a great deal of Idahoans, they admittedly also receive support from the State Policy Network, a policy organization founded by billionaire Thomas Roe to foster in-state “mini Heritage Foundations” across the country. The SPN’s purpose, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, is to “produce reports, create statistics, draft talking points and ‘expert’ testimony in support of bills… to advance a right-wing legislative agenda in the states under the guise of being a nonpartisan, nonprofit charitable organization.” Coffman says that the IFF shares a common vision with the SPN. He also admits that the news organization, IdahoReporter.com, does work for the IFF.

Coffman says that while IdahoReporter.com is a “source of free market views, it is still journalism.” NO, it’s not. It cannot be. It resembles journalism as much as a turd resembles a teddy bear.

Nowhere, not in Journalism 101, 201 or graduate courses have I ever heard of a legitimate, independent press being able to report impartially from underneath the guidance of policy organization. Nor does any other legitimate media in this state or country. Nor does anyone who has a degree in journalism; perhaps marketing, or public relations, but not journalism.

Coffman claims their reporting can be objective. I say it never can be because of the affiliation with the IFF. The news produced by IR and IFF reeks of political influence in the way that FOX news reeks of the far right agenda. No amount of rosewater is going to make that stink go away. To put articles out, thrown in among other journalism sources only muddies the truth water. Unfortunately, people generally aren’t smart enough or are unwilling to separate propaganda from real reporting. Even I have a hard time discerning between the two sometimes.

People need to know the truth and I will continue to strive to let people know who is behind points of view and why they might be pushing such agendas.

Looking through IdahoReporter.com and IFF’s online blogs it seems they spend a great deal of time attacking other media. Is this the behavior of an impartial journalistic group? No. It’s the behavior of a group attacking the messengers of truth, blurring what is truth in the public’s eye. That only leads to misinformation and a distrust of the media making it easier for propaganda to be digested by the masses.

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The following was written by Mitch Coffman, Communications Director, Idaho Freedom Foundation

Don’t let the facts get in the way of writing what you want to write

(In response to Response to Mr. Newspaperman commentary in Kuna Melba News on May 14, 2014)

In mid-May, Mark Barnes of the “Kuna-Melba News” attacked the work we do at Idaho Freedom Foundation, including the work at our news outlet, IdahoReporter.com. Additionally, he made false claims about us that deserve correction.

Since its founding in 2009, Idaho Freedom Foundation has received $2.2 million in donations, nearly all of which came from individuals in Idaho, not from wealthy out-of-state benefactors. In fact, we’re humbled by the reality that more than 1,200 generous Idahoans support Idaho Freedom Foundation’s resolve to promote free markets, eliminate government waste and corruption and promote government transparency and accountability. We’ve received more than 2,700 donations during the life of our organization, again mostly from throughout this beautiful state of ours.

Mr. Barnes also insinuates that because IdahoReporter.com is a product of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, somehow our journalism isn’t objective, but rather, propaganda. He apparently doesn’t read our stories much, where we quote from not only people who support our viewpoints, but also politicians and pontificators who perhaps do not. While IdahoReporter.com is a source for free market views, it is still journalism. That’s why weekly newspapers, dailies, radio stations and TV outlets have used IdahoReporter.com stories.

Journalists used to ask tough questions. They used to investigate issues rather than taking an elected official’s word for it. IdahoReporter.com chooses to ask tough questions and investigate issues. We challenge government to prove what it is doing is necessary, is cost effective, does not trample on individual rights, can’t be done by the private sector.

Mr. Barnes does correctly note that IFF is part of the State Policy Network (SPN). SPN members share a common vision of infusing our states with the values of limited government, individual rights, private property and economic freedom. It is no sin to affiliate with like-minded organizations, especially those that support the values on which our nation was founded.

Being attacked by the legacy media is not uncommon for us. Actually, we expect it because we are not part of the media club congratulating each other on what a good job we all are all doing. Meanwhile, Rome burns. Hate to use a cliché here, but … don’t kill the messenger.

We do not mind disagreements, but we are all better served if it is based on truthful reporting, something Mr. Barnes failed to do when writing about us.

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Mr. Newspaperman: Insufficient Craziness Theory

I got my semi-regular call from Elmer on Friday.

“It’s going to get crazier,” he said.

“It already is pretty crazy,” I told him.

“No, them tea partiers are going to go off the deep end I think,” he retorted. “You’re a liberal, you must be because you work for a paper. Didn’t you read your daily bible, The New Yawk Times?” he asked.

I told him I’m far from being a liberal and that, no, I don’t read the New “Yawk” Times unless I happen to come across an article I’m interested in on the internet.

“Well,” he said in a way that I knew I was about to get an earful, “They said to expect the tea partiers to get even more crazy in congress now that their shutdown didn’t work.”

I bit. “Why?” I asked.

“Each time their plans don’t work, they seem to think they weren’t crazy enough. They’re calling it the ‘Insufficient Craziness Theory’ and I think they’re right. Even Dan Popkey over at the Ideeho Statesman thinks so.”

Sitting at my computer, I browsed over to Dan Popkey’s online blog. “Elmer, Dan doesn’t necessarily say he agrees with it, he was just reporting it.”

He snapped back at me. “You know as well as I do if you report it then you believe it. That’s what all you juurneelist do.”

I disagreed, but rather than try to explain to him how journalism works, I paused and waited for him to fill the empty space on the phone. I didn’t have to wait long.

“So what do you think?” he asked.

“I’m not supposed to think,” I replied matter-of-factly. “I’m supposed to present the facts as fairly as I can. That’s what a journalist does.”

Now it was his turn to pause. I could feel his next comments welling up inside him about to explode like Mt. Saint Helens through the phone. Eventually, after 30 seconds, it blew.

“I’m going to bring my front loader down to your office,” he said. “Because you must be clean full to the ceiling with B.S. and you might need a good cleanout.”

I told him that wasn’t necessary but that I generally agreed with him on the Insufficient Craziness Theory.

“It seems to me that all the logical, reasonable options have been tried,” I told Elmer. “The only thing left is for the extreme right to go full crazy. You might keep that front loader warmed up once the next set of debt ceiling deadlines comes up in February.”

“You know I will,” he said.