How the Seattle Times could prosper

I’ve never subscribed to the Seattle Times. The reason is that, as a progressive, I disagree with many of the political endorsements by the editorial board.

Yet when I speak with conservatives they often say they dislike the Seattle Times because it’s too liberal! The Seattle Times gets hit from both sides of the political aisle.

Admittedly, the editorial board is more libertarian than conservative. That is, they’re generally liberal on social and foreign policy issues and conservative on tax and fiscal issues.

And it sure is sad and dangerous that journalism is struggling and that the news room and the public have to pay the price.

Yet I have a suggestion about how the Seattle Times and other news outlets can win back subscribers: Stop endorsing candidates and policies. The main purpose of a newspaper should be to present the news as objectively and fairly as humanly possible. The editorial page can still be used to present opposing viewpoints by outside commentators, but except in cases of obvious incompetence or political extremism, the board should avoid partisan politicking.

Deceptive anti-government article in the Seattle P-I

The Seattle P-I often publishes click-bait photo essays, which ask the user to click through a series of Getty images to read short summaries.  The photo essays hardly count as “articles”. The first page is a rewording of some source article. The reader spends most of her time clicking through the pretty photos. I suppose the Seattle P-I likes the cheap (free?) content and needs the ad revenue.

A recent photo essay is particularly low quality.

Called “The worst-ever wastes of US public money”, the photo essay is deceptive for several reasons.

First, the article omits some boondoggles that are far more costly than the ones it included.

The disastrous, ill-conceived war in Iraq has already cost $2 trillion; estimated eventual cost is as high as $6 trillion (source).

And what about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet program? Each plane costs $400 million, twice the original estimate. The entire program’s estimated cost? $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion.  The program has been plagued with technical difficulties, and numerous critics claim the plane’s design is inferior.  For example, Pentagon’s big budget F-35 fighter ‘can’t turn, can’t climb, can’t run’;   F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is a Lemon (“Military expert Pierre Sprey, the founder and designer of the F-16 & A-10 Warthog airplanes, explains why the F-35 will not cut it on the modern battlefield”).

The list of boondoggles they do include — copied from GoBankingRate.com’s 20 Biggest Boondoggles in the U.S. — ranges from #20 “Missouri’s Pruitt-Igoe Housing Projects: $36 Million” to #1 “California’s High-Speed Rail: $68 Billion”.

Not all of the projects are primarily wastes of government. #12 is “New Jersey’s Revel Casino: $2.4 Billion”. That failure was mostly a failure of corporations, not government.  Morgan Stanley took a $900 million loss on the casino.   Republican Governor Chris Christie signed onto the project, guaranteeing $216 million in tax incentives.

In fact, progressives aren’t in favor of all government programs.

Ten of the projects (#19, #18, #16, #15, #14, #10, #9, #7, #6, and #4) involve road and bridge construction. I can agree that the projects are largely wasteful. But progressives, such as me, generally oppose government spending on roads, which has the effect of subsidizing auto use and sprawl.

#10 is “Washington’s Big Bertha $3.1 Billion.”  Most Seattle progressives (environmentalists in particular) opposed spending on the tunnel and wanted public transportation instead.

Often government programs are corrupt or benefit the wrong people. But the solution isn’t to get rid of government. The solution is to fix the corruption and mismanagement.  But a tried and true GOP strategy is to make sure government works only for the 1%. Under-fund and corrupt the programs that do help the middle class.   Oppose regulations that might prevent abuses. Then blame government for the failures.

#1 in the list of boondoggles is California’s high speed rail. But construction began in January, 2015.  It’s too early to call the project a boondoggle. It’s a worthy goal: build high-speed rail from LA to San Francisco.

#17 is about Maryland’s sewer system. $1.1 billion is the estimated total cost.  The original projected cost was $700 million.  The scheduled completion date is in 2018. That doesn’t strike me as a terrible cost-overrun.

#5 on the the list is “Texas’ Superconducting Super Collider: $11 Billion”. But, in fact, $11 billion was the revised estimated cost; “only” about $2.4 billion of that projected cost was actually spent (according to this article and this article).

Let’s not forget, too, the billions of dollars wasted by corporations. Most businesses fail. Microsoft recently wasted $7.6 billion on its acquisition of Nokia and another $6.2 billion on aQuantive.

For the record, here are images of the headlines, followed by the text of the original article appearing in Seattle P-I.

Seattle P-I headline 1

Seattle P-I headline 1

Seattle P-I headline 1

Sometimes, the government uses the money its taxpayers send each April 15 wisely, like building schools or paying benefits to veterans.

Other times, the government could save itself and taxpayers a lot of hassle just by throwing our money in a big trash can and setting it on fire.

Recently, the consumer finance site GoBankingRates collected the 20 biggest boondoggles in America, and perhaps not surprisingly, almost all of them can be put on the tab of either a state government of the feds.

 If you thought the $435 hammer at the Pentagon or the Navy’s $640 toilet seat sounded like ridiculous wastes of money (they’re actually more like “creative accounting”), you’re not going to be happy with the $1.3 billion the government spent on an interstate that doesn’t actually connect any states.

Or the $2 billion on a dam that failed the first time they tried to fill it (killing several people in the process).

Check out the photos above to see the 20 biggest wastes of money in America, according to GoBankingRates, along with why they are and will continue to be such gigantic money pits.

As I mentioned above, the P-I got the content from GoBankingRates.com. In the original article, there’s a link “View All.”  If you click on it, you get to see the list of projects, and their corresponding images, on a single page.  The Seattle P-I makes readers click through the images to see the list. Annoying!

The Onion in talks with Fox Entertainment Group

Cole Bolton, editor-in-chief of the satirical website The Onion announced today that three of the six senior writers have resigned and that the publication is seeking a buyer due to decreasing ad revenue.

Former senior writer Anthony Wilcox said, in an exclusive interview, “The root cause is that the political situation in America has become so extreme that truth has become stranger than fiction. The major Republican candidates are like parodies of themselves. We can’t compete with that craziness.”

In October of this year, CEO Mike McAvoy had announced a restructuring of the organization, including layoffs. The resignation of three of the six senior writers throws into question the ability of the publication to continue publishing.

Founding editor Scott Dikkers explained another factor in the publication’s decline. “Our website gets millions of hits each week. But people aren’t willing to pay for content. Many of the users block ads. And those that don’t block ads don’t click on them or buy products. Basically, people are getting a laugh at our expense. At least, we made people happy for a while.”

Dikkers said that The Onion, which originated in 1988 and which ceased publishing its print edition in 2013, is entering into talks with Fox Entertainment Group, owner of Fox News.

It is ironic that Fox Entertainment Group may end up as owners of The Onion.  The Onion had come under criticism from conservatives for its alleged liberal bias. Conservative political pundit website Breitbart has condemned the publication’s political leanings.  Breitbart columnist Christian Toto attributes the publication’s approach to Barack Obama as a part of “…the left’s inability to mock one of their own.”

Emmett Rensin claims The Onion foments  Marxist thought:

But only one is breathing new life into a far-left movement mostly vanished since FDR dropped dead. It isn’t The Socialist Worker. It’s not The Militant, either. And it isn’t Monthly Review, Political Affairs, World Socialist Website, or Worker’s Vanguard. Rather, the vanguard of revolution—the paper most dedicated to the overthrowing capitalism in the United States today—is none other than The Onion.

Fox Entertainment had no comment about the acquisition of The Onion.

Donations to The Onion can be made here.

The Onion editor Cole Bolton
Onion Editor-in-chief Cole Bolton

Apparent anti-semitic headline on TheMarketBusiness, recommended by google

On April 25, the news aggregation site news.google.com included among its top headlines a link and summary to an article from TheMarketBusiness.com with the following headline.

To Meet Jew Donors, Ted Cruz heads to Vegas

Here’s an image of the article as it appeared on April 25 at TheMarketBusiness.com, 2015 at 8:10AM PST:

Antisemitic headline mom TheMarketBusiness.com

The first paragraph is largely ungrammatical:

Ted Cruz, The Texas Firebrand didn’t stand out in the previous poll about the presidential election in 2016, but since he was approached by some Jewish giant donor [sic], his name began to be taken into account. He will meet some Jewish donors in the next meeting in [sic] Semi Jewish [sic] Republican Coalition meeting. With him, there are several other Republican candidates are [sic] Rick Perry, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, and Mike Pence. The meeting was attended by a group of “low candidates”, as well as members of the above is group of candidates of the lowest in the polls, because top candidates like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker will not participate in the meeting.

Here’s an image of part of  news.google.com page:

Antisemitic headline in news.google.com

Notice that the headline there is slightly different and also ungrammatical: “To Meet jews Donors…”

I realize that google can’t be held responsible for the content of every article their news aggregator links to, but you’d hope the programmers at google can tune their algorithms in the future to exclude such substandard content.

Does Alternet have an anti-Christian bias?

I detect an anti-Christian bias on Alternet. I think they enjoy publishing articles critical of Christianity. (BTW, I am an atheist.)

For example, the following article has a deceptive title. The title suggests that Christians have higher rates of porn addiction than non-Christians. But the body of the article says otherwise.

Porn Addiction in the Christian Community: Why are Rates so High?

The article 9 Truly Evil Things Right-Wing Christians Do says “The Christian persecution complex is absurd.”   Calling Christians “truly evil” and then saying they have a persecution complex is kinda ironic, don’t you think?   (The author of the article says she did not choose the title.)

I’ve seen other articles on Alternet critical of Christians.

Mind you, I agree that there are many terrible things that conservative Christians have done (The article 9 Truly Evil Things Right-Wing Christians Do has a good summary.)  But one shouldn’t judge all Christians by the actions and views of the conservative sects.  And one shouldn’t overstate the case.

Someone should do a more thorough analysis of Alternet’s articles.   I notice they’re good at coming up with catchy titles about interesting topics.

 

I detect an anti-Christian bias on Alternet. I think they enjoy publishing articles critical of Christianity. (BTW, I am an atheist who was raised mildly Jewish.) For example, the following article has a deceptive title. The title suggests that Christians have higher rates of porn addiction than non-Christians. But the body of the article says otherwise.

For one of your articles, too, they chose a title that was more anti-Christian than what you wrote.

Someone should research this bias …..<h1 class=”node-title” datatype=”” property=”dc:title”>Porn Addiction in the Christian Community: Why Are Rates so High?</h1>Porn Addiction in the Christian Community: Why Are Rates so High?</h1>Porn Addiction in the Christian Community: Why Are Rates so High?http://www.alternet.org/belief/9-truly-evil-things-right-wing-christians-do

Future of Independent Media:

Independent journalist Mark Taylor-Canfield talks with Norman Goldman about efforts to bring back progressive and independent voices to the Northwest US media. KPTK(Seattle) & KPOJ(Portland) went off the air, sparking groups like Progressive Radio Northwest and KRXY to launch campaigns to establish new broadcast stations and networks in Washington and Oregon.

Bias in headlines about Bill and Hillary Clinton

I often visit news.google.com to see top stories, and I often notice the bias in headlines. Today, there are grossly conflicting headlines about Mitt Romney’s interview with NBC’s David Gregory.

The Daily Caller’s headline reads:

‎Gregory asked Romney to respond to Rand Paul’s description on Meet the Press of Bill Clinton as a sexual predator.  Should Hillary be judged on her husband’s behavior? Gregory asked.  In fact, Gregory starts by saying “Well, I don’t think Bill Clinton is  as relevant as Hillary Clinton … and in her case people will look at her record as Secretary of State.”  But The Daily Caller turns the gist of the message on its head.

The Daily Mail’s headline has a similar take:

These news sites have a different spin on the story:

Google’s news algorithm has a difficult task in figuring out which headlines to place at the top.