Off The Press

September 22, 2009

By David Hayes

Your community paper covers news others miss

David Hayes Press Reporter

David Hayes Press Reporter

Let me tell you, more and more these days, I’m reminded of why I enjoy working at a weekly newspaper, more than likely than at almost any daily.

Let me give one really important reason — no ideological slant. Take almost any topic going on in America right now, and the major dailies, instead of reporting straight up what happened, have to skew the outcome down ideological lines.

For example, unless you watch Fox News or follow the bloggers (more on them later), you wouldn’t have learned about the sea of humanity that descended upon Washington, D.C., Sept. 12. Instead of learning about the anger boiling up over out of control government spending and largess, thanks to NBC, we learned from ex-president Jimmy Carter it was merely a large crowd of racists.If a crowd of more than 200,000 gathered here on the streets of Issaquah, you can be assured The Issaquah Press would cover the event fairly with as many voices as possible. Oh wait, we do accomplish that every year. It’s called the Salmon Days Festival. I like to think we have the most comprehensive look at the city’s ode to the annual migration of the salmon. From in-depth features to the guide to get you to and around the festival to some of the best photos of the event by our award-winning photographer Greg Farrar, we’ve got it covered from every angle.

In another example, thanks to the national media, the public was well aware of the shooting death of abortion doctor George Tiller. But how many of you have heard of James Pouillon? This pro-life protestor didn’t get as much play when he was shot dead. It was a national tragedy and a horrible sign of the times when Tiller was shot, but a blip on the radar when Pouillon was gunned down. Both men were equally reviled by the opposite side of the abortion argument. But it seems only one was worthy of days of coverage by the national media.

While no one of that importance has been slain in Issaquah, reading our online content, you would have learned before any of our competition of the local doctor who had her medical license to practice revoked due to drug abuse.

City reporter Warren Kagarise is so on top of the pulse of Issaquah, that before the third or fourth beat, the event is up on our Web site or, in our newest feature, on Twitter. A growing number of you are following his tweets. The rest should log on and see what all the hoopla is about in 140 words or less.

The last example I have, is rather nutty. Specifically, about ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. An organization that started with altruistic goals of getting the poor, minority communities involved and registered in local politics, has grown into a massive, behemoth riddled with corruption. Did the national medial expose this corruption? No. While 13 states now have the organization under investigation for voter registration fraud, it took two college grads, one still not old enough yet to drink, to expose ACORN’s dark underbelly through undercover videos.

Are we really to believe Charles Gibson didn’t hear of this massively breaking story for five whole days while he was sailing in Maine? Again, Fox viewers knew of the developing story long before anyone in the mainstream press admitted it was happening.

But corruption that systemic took someone on the inside tipping off someone in the media willing to lend an ear. If we had something of that magnitude happening in Issaquah, I’d like to think someone would tip us off. We take seriously our roll as community watchdog. To parallel the ACORN situation, say someone in the Issaquah Schools Foundation embezzled $1 million. But rather than someone report it, the crime was covered up and the person later went on to run the Washington Education Association. Such is the case with Dale Rathke, ACORN founder Wade Rathke’s brother. Look them up. They both look like characters out of central casting for evil henchmen.

Keeping informed is a two-way street. We can only dig up so much here at The Press. It takes vigilant readers and concerned community members to let us know what we’re missing. After 109 years in the community, I think we’ve earned that trust that we’re doing what is right with the story, ideological slant free.

David Hayes: 392-6434, ext. 237, dhayes@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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