Journalism, Schmournalism

You should be embarrassed, Mark Curtis, and you should apologize to the viewers you misled with your words yesterday evening. I’ll admit I missed it, having moved on from KPNX some time ago.

While the video posted online doesn’t indicate anything, perhaps you actually identified your piece as an editorial rather than a news piece. If so, you have the flexibility to use inflammatory language as you wish. It doesn’t get you off the hook for truthfulness, however.

Close Is Good Enough

AZ Republic piece 05/28/13 (click to embiggen)

AZ Republic piece 05/28/13
(click to embiggen)

Inaccurate statements are nothing new from Gannett people in the Coyotes fiasco. It’s easy to dismiss people with conspiracy theory labels, but when the effect of the inaccuracies all point in the same negative direction, eventually even hardened cynics should become suspicious. Sure, it’s possible for people make simple mistakes, but when the inaccuracies aren’t mistakes they become lies.

We saw a Gannett example of something that was probably just a mistake resulting from a lack of fact checking yesterday from Pullitzer Prize winning reporter Paul Giblin. It was on the exact same page as the video, but the piece was edited to remove the error. The screenshot of the original is just above, though. We’ve seen that before (click here) yet I suggest that while it’s nice to correct your errors, it’s even better to not make them in the first place. It’s especially important when you are offered the responsibility to provide accurate information to your readers. Anyway, this was in the original piece:

“LeBlanc is making a second go at ownership as he was part of an investment group called Ice Edge Holdings that sought to purchase the team between 2009 and 2010.”

That’s just wrong and easily checked. Mr. LeBlanc was also involved in the Hulsizer group and the Jamison group, making this latest attempt at least his fourth “go at ownership”. Worse than that, all of the supporting information to verify the involvement of Mr. LeBlanc is stored on AZ Central, including PICTURES of Mr. LeBlanc accompanying Mr. Jamison at the last City Council meeting that approved an arena management deal. Is this an earth shattering error? Of course not, but it should certainly give pause to anybody deciding how much credibility to give ANYTHING ELSE on those pages. Yet, for some reason, it doesn’t.

Back To Curtis

Mark, in your intro for Joe Dana and while describing the latest round of Coyotes ownership news, you offered incorrect and purposely  inflammatory words to your viewers.

“We’ve heard it plenty of times before over the past four years, optimism over a new group that wants to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and keep them in the Valley. The issue has caused the City of Glendale to go broke.”

Mark Curtis - KPNX Anchor

Mark Curtis – KPNX Anchor

I guess we see where KPNX stands on this issue, don’t we? Most of us are stupid and don’t possess the faculties to decide for ourselves how we should feel about the Coyotes and Glendale. Therefore, it’s necessary for you, with the gravitas of an anchor, to preface a piece so we already know what to think before we hear anything more. While that’s very considerate of you, I’d be willing to bet cash money you’d be happy to criticize Fox News for using the exact same technique.

If there was any doubt BEFORE you opened your mouth, the snarky graphic “HERE WE GO AGAIN” at the bottom of the screen as the intro to the story might have been a clue.

Words Are Important

To loosely paraphrase an ex-President, depending on how you define “plenty”, you managed at least two errors in 11 seconds.

If “plenty of times” means three, you’d be correct. The first ownership efforts from Ice Edge and/or Reinsdorf never really got off the ground too far, but let’s include them as one more for four. Is that “plenty”? Sure, if you had four Ferraris it might be “plenty”. If I gave Mr. Curtis four minutes of air time, would he consider it “plenty”?

The second sentence is simply wrong. Using the word “broke” is, again, inflammatory. How do you define “broke”? Is the city with an A2 bond rating that JUST refinanced a goodly portion of their bond debt “broke”? Was the “brokeness” of Glendale reduced because of this refinancing?

If the Coyotes “caused the City of Glendale” to go broke, was there ANY effect from the Camelback Ranch fiasco that is always ignored? Did the breaks for Ellman and company have anything to do with their “brokeness”? What about perks and parking for University of Phoenix Stadium and the Sports and Tourism Authority playing fast and loose? I can keep going, but obviously it’s easier to simply point the broadcasting finger at a hockey team to keep it simple enough that we, as dumb viewers, can understand which way to vote.

It’s obvious that your opening statement is dismissive and prejudicial to the story from your colleague Dana.

You should be embarrassed.

In Case You Didn’t Understand

Then, just before you throw it to Dana, you add a little tidbit in case we, as pablum eating viewers, missed the tone of the story:

“It ushered in a whole new administration in the last election. Tonight, is the new mayor and the city council, are they headed down this same ruinous path?”

Is “ruinous path” an unbiased, objective adjective/noun combination in the KPNX newsroom, Mark? Again, stating the hockey team and associated attempts to deal with a city owned asset is a “ruinous path” extends the definition of hyperbole. Does putting the “WATCHDOG” label on a piece absolve you of impartiality? If it does, it shouldn’t.

Your characterization “ushered in a whole new administration” is, quite frankly, ludicrous. Only one incumbent, Joyce Clark, ran for reelection and lost. The mayor retired and was replaced. Vice Mayor Frate retired and was replaced. CM Lieberman retired and was replaced.

How, then, are the Coyotes responsible for ushering in a whole new administration? While that may be colorful language, it remains wholly inaccurate.

So, how about just reporting the story, NOT “the story as we see it”?

Too much to ask? – 602-444-1354