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May 23, 2019

3/27/2019 12:12:00 PM
Different views of the news
From the editor

Significant news headlined on the front page in three area newspapers March 13:
“Navy will spend $887K on jet noise ‘mitigation’” – Anacortes American
“Navy to fund historic preservation near NAS Whidbey” – Skagit Valley Herald
“Navy declines following most preservation recommendations” – La Conner Weekly News
The issue: The Navy’s response to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, a federal agency. The Navy decided not to study, consult with other parties, measure noise levels or delay bringing 36 EA-18G Growler jets to the Whidbey Naval Air Station. In the five page letter informing ACHP it would not follow the Council’s recommendations it stated it would donate $877,000 to renovate the 1860 Ferry House in the Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.
The Weekly News, having been present at a La Conner movie and meeting attended by 80 people and a Coupeville meeting of over 350 attendees, had no notes of comments on paying to fix the Ferry House. All the noise was on reducing the noise and its impact on people, structures and the landscape – the environmental aesthetics – that increasing jet operations cause.
Why do the other stories differ so dramatically in emphasis? One reason is in-person coverage by the Weekly News, almost certainly the only paper at the two meetings. Another, speculating, is that the other papers based their stories on Navy press releases. And, possibly, editors chose not to criticize, and indeed, supported, the Navy.
Merriam Webster defines mitigation as “the process or result of making something less severe, dangerous, painful, harsh or damaging.” The Anacortes American headline is factually wrong: historic building renovation will not mitigate the noise, or at most will save that one building and site.
Which of the papers have bias?
All three. Which of the paper was closest to both events: documents, staffs, the general public?
It is probably true, and not bias, that the Weekly News had its finger more on the pulse of people locally.
Is this paper biased to “newcomers” and outside agitators and against the military as some argue?
The Weekly News holds to its consistent position of upholding democracy and community participation. Its bias is against powerful institutions using the rhetoric of defending freedom while not staying in participatory dialogue with the citizens they are sworn to protect.
Democracy is messy. If the most powerful ignore citizens while claiming to protect their freedom, this paper’s bias is to call that fundamental authoritarian action for what it is: undemocratic.
This paper is biased toward people defending their Lives, their Fortunes and their sacred Honor, the same as their founding fathers did.
This paper is biased toward the Navy staying in dialogue until a mutual agreement is reached.

Related Links:
• Ken Stern

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