Local Media Today Is The Government


Recent conversations with friends and a GUARDIAN reader’s comment about getting nothing but press releases from the local media got us to thinking about past and present.

Nearly 50 years ago I was the police and fire reporter at the STATESMAN, covering cops, fires, and the courts. Both the Ada Sheriff and the Boise PD had a clip board set up so I could read EVERY report generated by the officers. Granted there weren’t so many reports, but the daily log was a treasure trove of news.

We published stories of most felony offenses, deaths, and all the “fun stuff” coppers encounter during a shift. As a result, when a compressor was taken from a job site in Boise it was common for a farmer in Eagle to find it in his corn field. If a prominent businessman filed a false theft report, his “girlfriend” read the report and tipped the coppers.

Not so today. Reporters find it nearly impossible to read timely incident reports. The police employ their own news staffs who decide WHAT to release and then they WRITE the stories. The GUARDIAN gets most of the releases and it astounds us when we see and hear the reports parroted by the local media.

Here is an example of a police-generated story by the State Police at Lewiston:

On May 29, 2018 at approximately 08:43 a.m. an injury crash occurred on Arrow Highline Road, just north of the SH3/US12 junction. A 2007 International truck loaded with propane driven by Shaun Barber, 35, of Genesee, was eastbound on Arrow Highline Road when the vehicle moved too far right and entered the right hand shoulder. The shoulder gave way under the weight of the truck.

The truck rolled at least once landing on the tires on the railroad tracks below. The driver was able to exit the vehicle, close the safety valve and call for help. No propane was spilled or vented. The vehicle was removed under its own power off the railroad tracks. Barber was transported to St. Josephs where he was treated and released for minor injuries. The investigation is ongoing.

Now that is a story! Talk about a lucky guy. Not even Hollywood stuntmen could manage to flip a virtual ten ton bomb, land on a railroad track and then drive away. Coppers can’t inject their commentary into stories, but a good reporter and editor team would have that incident on the front page and followed by media worldwide.

When a car was stolen recently in Boise with an infant inside, the copper-generated news simply didn’t add up. They reported the car was left running at a convenience store with the baby inside. When the thieves took off, “a parent” supposedly chased it down on foot. One of the inadvertent kidnappers handed over the baby and waited around for coppers while the driver fled and was arrested next day.

The account is simply unbelievable. No felon waits around for the cops. No questions were raised about the negligent parent leaving the car running with the kid inside. Had to be a custody squabble or something, but the police news writing was severely lacking at best.

Side note: It appears to several media watchers that the Idaho Press Tribune (or “IDAHO PRESS”) is making a move on the Statesman. The Adams publishing family now owns Idaho Falls, Pocatello, and the Nampa-Caldwell-Meridian print media outlets. They picked up veteran political reporter Betsy Russell from the Spokane Spokesman and it would seem they are on the verge of becoming “Idaho’s Newspaper.” Let’s hope they are able to cover more than press releases.

With no printing press and a small staff, the venerable Statesman has lost much of its former clout becoming the “vulnerable” Statesman.

See IDAHO PRESS for details of the move on Boise.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Two Points of Accuracy!

    The local newspaper has very little local news. The wire services and McClatchy sister newspapers are the bulk of the Stateman content.

    I have seen the Circulation Department advertising on Facebook recently for delivery contractors (not employees). The circulation must be so low that no one reads their classified “help Wanted” section anymore.

    Second – The Nampa newspaper actually has more Boise news than would be expected. A subscription person was sitting in the front lobby of the Glenwood Fred Meyer last week giving away sample newspapers. I was surprised by the quantity of Ada County content. Your words are probably prophetic about the run.

    Didn’t the President and Publisher of the Statesman just quit to take an Idaho Power job? It seemed to take months to fill the position. Then, from Gannett with a person with a long history of ever-changing jobs.

  2. Was well past time
    Jun 12, 2018, 5:29 pm

    Your little blog put the Stalesman out of business. Well done, it needed to be done years ago.

    EDITOR NOTE–We take no joy in the decline of the local Daily. They seem to have shifted to a “magazine” format. Long stories which take days or weeks to write and often fill two or three full pages. Meanwhile local stories are missed and readers seek info elsewhere. Hard to offer a real newspaper when it is printed 120 miles away and delivery is often fragmented.

  3. Sad, but true. Interesting the full court Press the Idaho Press is doing, and lots of local news too!

  4. I remember those good old days also. As Ada County prosecutor in 59 and 60, I had the coffee room open in the office every day for the press to stop and talk about what was cuurrent.

  5. Police departments have had to form their own PR departments because “news” typically spins a story that has nothing to do with reality, all to get higher ratings. Take a look at any “brutality” news clip – then watch the entire clip from the officer’s camera, and you’ll see nearly opposite stories. Every time I’ve been at an incident then watch the “news” later, the “news” has rarely had any truth. Sometimes I’ve had to check if it was even the same incident.

    We no longer have a Free Press. We have corporate fantasy spinning the most outlandish tales to get higher ratings and more commercial money, or downplaying something bad about those that pay them advertising money. It’s only about dollars.

  6. I know some good papers
    Jun 12, 2018, 10:15 pm

    Eastern Oregon Oregonian
    Idaho Press Tribune
    Spokane Spokesman Review
    Moutain Express from Ketchum
    Boise Guardian
    Seattle PI
    Salt Lake Tribune

    Put them on your list of information providers. I just don’t know what happened to the Idaho Statesman. Maybe just a loss center for their corporate office. Cash cow, but loss center. They just do not engage with the community. Send them a press release and they orgasm.

  7. Bieter Begone
    Jun 13, 2018, 7:02 am

    It’s great the Idaho Press Tribune is moving into Boise/Ada county to actually report local news. Unfortunately it means the same deranged cranky nuts that post Facebook comments on the Statesman “stories” are migrating there as well.

  8. western guy
    Jun 13, 2018, 9:38 am

    Regarding ‘I know some good papers’: The Oregonian prints 4 days a week, online the remainder. Seattle PI used to be a great paper; now mediocre.

    The Statesman will follow the Oregonian in less than a year, I predict. They will use the ‘it’s too far from Twin Falls’ excuse to stop offering a print copy every day of the week.

    Idaho Press is going to rock this valley!

  9. The Idaho Press Tribune is indeed a still viable source for a daily. Their Sports section is excellent. Sadly, they have Curtis Rd. as the cut off point for subscriptions. I so wish they could expand their profile, Ada County commitment, and thereby expand their boundaries.

  10. Kent Goldthorpe
    Jun 13, 2018, 9:06 pm

    My congratulations to Betsy.

  11. Perhaps we could see the Adams company making some bids to buy the Statesman from McClatchy soon? Like they used to say in the old McDonald’s commercials, “hey it could happen!”

  12. western guy
    Jun 14, 2018, 4:03 pm

    RE: Gernard saying that Curtis Road is the Idaho Press’ cutoff for home distribution, I read in that newspaper that all of Ada County is their distribution area. Possibly htey are expanding in stages?

  13. What-do-ya-know? I just called the IPT, and sure enough: They are indeed delivering throughout all of Boise. I went ahead and subscribed. Amazing deal. Ten bucks a month for the first year…Delivered!

  14. The MSM (Mainstream Media) which includes all the (fake) news on TV and newspapers is owned by 5 interrelated corporations. America’s “free press” has migrated to the internet, and is buried, hard to find, and derided by the MSM as being a bunch of wacko conspiracy theorists.

    The MSM effectively controls the minds of those who watch TV or read newspapers, and determines the outcomes of almost every election. Saying it is important to vote is just crazy talk. People vote for who the rich folks tell them to vote for, dismissing any good candidates as being “perennial”, “fringe” or “unelectable”.

    The MSM distracts with “news” about fires, explosions, car crashes, robberies, and such while the real criminals (bankers, politicians, MSM, and Oligarchs) are on a crime spree of unimaginable proportions.

    The MSM feeds you endless fear and opinions, while facts are relegated to the shadowy corners of the internet. Now, Net Neutrality has been ended, so expect the real news sites to be increasingly strangled as the MSM becomes ever more prominent.

    Sites like the Guardian are going to be under attack as they don’t prop up the narrative that everything is rosy and wonderful in Consumer Utopia America. Support these sites or they will vanish.

  15. Yossarian_22
    Jun 16, 2018, 3:33 pm

    Congrats Mr. Guardian on applying your basic skills of critical thinking to the carjacking story that does smell like rotten eggs. Where are the sourced points of fact for that whopper? We are just supposed to buy it because why? What does “running down the car” mean? It stretched credulity.

    That is why we ALL have to apply basic critical thinking to all “news.”

  16. What would you say is the main factor behind the lack of quality on police press?

    EDITOR NOTE–Not sure of your question, but the issue of having the coppers control the selection and presentation of the content is bothersome.

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