Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blade bias - #9

It's been a while since I did a post about our local daily paper's obvious bias - but today's headline on the trash service story cries out for attention.

Yesterday, Toledo City Council held a committee meeting to discuss the administration proposal to transfer garbage collection to Lucas County. Council had previously approved the county issuing a Request For Proposal (RFP) to see what kind on interest there might be for contracting out the collection of garbage. The Commissioners approved that RFP last week.

Today's headline about the committee meeting reads:

Councilmen drag heels on trash decision

When you read the article, you find that members of council had some serious questions about the plan and the claimed 'savings.'

In fact, I talked about one of the concerns last week when I filled in on WSPD for Brian Wilson, so I'm glad someone was listening and is now raising the question. The RFP calls for the 'option' of buying the city's newly purchased automated trucks for $7 million. But we paid $12.2 million for them about a year ago. The $7 million isn't enough to cover our debt on the trucks - and it's only an option for the bidder to consider. If the bidder doesn't want to purchase the trucks, they don't have to - which means that we'll still be paying for them despite the fact that they won't be in use.

I also took a look at the budget numbers that don't add up in this post from earlier today.

Then there are the questions members of council raised about the obligation to cover the refuse department employee pensions (for forever, it seems) as well as the costs the city will still have to pay to actually dump the garbage in a landfill.

These are serious concerns and getting clear answers to the questions is part of the duty of the members of council. They aren't 'dragging their heels' - they are, in this case, being responsible representatives.

The headline is clearly the opinion of the headline writer. There is no quote in the article that might have supported the opinion as a claim and only the mention of the administration's arbitrary deadline to support the erroneous conclusion.

The headline could have easily read, 'Council considers costs, savings of trash plan' or even partial use of the sub-headline, 'Council raises questions on trash decision.' Either of these would have been both accurate and truthful without expressing an opinion in the news section.

Now, if this had been a headline for an editorial, it would have been perfect, as it expresses the opinion of the editorial board. But since this was the news section, it deserves to be #9 in the ever-growing list of bias examples at The Blade.


skeeter1107 said...

Doesn't anyone ever get fired for this level of incompetence?

How is that these ideas are born, nurtured and have analysis that is so terribly wrong, no one pays the price of their job?

In the real business world, that's what happens. As taxpayers, we should expect the same.

The Frizzy Hooker said...

You raised excellent points. Toledo Area readers deserve better than this type of journalism

C Irmen said...

The recent (2/16) article on the "Neighbors" section by Janet Romaker was also poorly done. This particular article was about the recipient of the Dr. Frank Foss EMS Excellence Award. The problem is that the article made no mention of the 400 people who received this award. Our local TV stations got it right, but reading this article by Romaker would lead someone to believe that only this one person was so honored.
Another example of Blade bias, since Romaker knows this guy. All those other worthy people were completely ignored by her, when all she would have needed to do was mention that her friend was one among the many that were honored at the annual conference.

And they wonder why their circulation is dropping.

Maggie Thurber said...

C Irmen: all I can say is 'wow'....

Thanks for adding to the list!

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