Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Old Computer Problem Infects Paper’s Editorial

You don’t hear it much anymore – “garbage in, garbage out.” It’s so 1980s.

But that’s what you get when an editorial writer relies on coverage by the newspaper’s own agenda-driver reporter to build its opinion piece. Such seems to be the result in today's Honolulu Advertiser lead editorial.

We’ve previously noted reporter Sean Hao’s inaccuracies, narrow fact selection and “view with alarm” style of journalism here. His most recent gotcha article attempted to show that the City was slow to recognize a potential rail route problem near Honolulu International Airport.

We suspect there’s much more to this story that Hao has selectively chosen not to report or didn't try hard enough to learn – information that will show no such thing. We may not read it in the Advertiser, however, since the City's effort to shed more light on inter-agency dialogue could make negotiations on the airport issue even more difficult.

The bottom line: By sole-sourcing information for its editorial today, the Advertiser is operating in a closed information loop – basing its editorial viewpoint on a shaky reporting foundation. The old advice is still relevant: Let the buyer – and reader – beware.

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