Sunday, December 30, 2007

Are there two sides to every story?

A listener emailed a complaint about my interviews with people who live in Santa Fe County and who are opposed to oil drilling next to their homes. The listener wondered why the oil-development-company-side-of-the-story was left out. It turns out this is a running story. Certainly, when the issue first came up, we along with the rest of the media presented the case for drilling as well as concern over that prospect. That first story having been told, the ensuing stories have focused on the new county ordinance regarding drilling. That's what my most recent report was about -- what do citizens make of the first draft? We had already presented the county's side of the way the ordinance was being drafted.

The listener came in in the middle of the fourth inning of this baseball game. It was as if he was asking, why didn't you present innings 1-3 ... again?

Back to the question, are there always two sides to a story?

1. Homelessness in Santa Fe is a problem. Can there be a second, opposing side to this story?

2. Per-capita water use is down. Is there another side?

3. Driving while talking on a hand-held cell is now against the law in Santa Fe. Another view? Actually, there is. KSFR has reported on it but no one else has. It's the view that any use of a cell phone, whether hand-held or hands-free has the same effect as dangerously engaging the brain. Why has no one else reported on what seems to be bona fide work by University of Utah scientists?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sacramento pub radio news boosts ratings

The public broadcasting print and online publication Current takes note of news coverage about the news department of the Sacramento, Calif., public radio station.

The Sacramento Bee newspaper reports on the station's ratings and its philosophy, one we also employ at KSFR:

"You won't hear KXJZ reporters, for example, weighing in breathlessly from a stabbing at a Natomas minimart or phoning in a 20-second live report from an Elk Grove house fire. Those are ephemeral events. Rather, KXJZ will take an issue in the news and cover all sides in news reports and features often lasting as long as four minutes, unheard of on commercial news stations."

The article says KXJZ ranks fourth among the 40 stations in that city.

The Sacramento Bee requires free registration to read the full article..

Friday, December 28, 2007

No more closed door meetings

The question of a second, closed-door meeting (with the media banned) on the question of oil drilling in Santa Fe is now answered.

Groups opposed to oil drilling have told the Santa Fe County Commissioner who banned the media from the first meeting that they will not attend a second one organized the same way. They give as a reason the idea that they shouldn't be behind closed doors with the oil development company. But they also say any future meeting should be conducted in "a public environment."

KSFR News and I rest our case.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

You can be "Legal" and still be wrong

The protest filed by KSFR News over a closed-door, media-barred meeting of a Santa Fe County Commissioner is about to result in a decision. The commissioner told KSFR he will decide after Christmas whether to open up his second meeting.

In our view, the huge public issue of oil drilling in the county is too big of a deal to deliberate in secret.

The commissioner agreed to come on-air after our email to him and his fellow commissioners, decrying the secrecy of his meeting of opponents of drilling, lawyers from the oil development company, and a state official. Unbelieveably, the commissioner said, on air, that people are more likely to be frank when not facing the glare of the press or the public. Really?

Two of the four opponent groups at that meeting have now told KSFR the first meeting should have been open and any future meeting must be. Another individual opponent to drilling told the Santa Fe New Mexican today the way the commissioner's meeting was handled was a "public relations blunder" on the commissioner's part.

The commissioner avoided the open meetings law by insuring a quorum of commissioners were not on hand. He was legal. But was he right?

His next meeting is December 28. Will it be open? Or closed?

Check KSFR's news reports and podcasts on that subject here.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Santa Fe oil drilling clamup?

The forums for broad in-public discourse on the prospect of oil and gas drilling in Santa Fe County may have dried up, at least until the next formal hearings by the county and by the state. After four widely attended, informal public meetings (two of them conducted by Techton Energy of Houston, and two others by elected officials) the issue seems to have retreated behind closed doors.

1. One county commissioner took it upon himself to appoint an advisory group whom he invited, together with representatives of Techton Energy and a state official, to a private, closed-door meeting. The doors were closed, no minutes were taken, there was no followup report and the media was banned. One of the groups invited to the meeting is in opposition to the drilling. They have since labeled the attendees as the "Oil and Gas Advisory Committee." It has not been disclosed who else is a member of this so-called advisory committee, why they were selected and how they got the name (or was that one group simply creating a convenient label?). County Commissioner Paul Campos called that secret meeting and has not responded to repeated requests from KSFR for information about it. As a consequence, KSFR News has filed a complaint with the county about the way the issue has been handled.

2. Subsequently, Techton Energy tells the Santa Fe New Mexican that it will no longer answer questions from the media. It will communicate any developments by press release only.

Sincerely, Bill Dupuy

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wire Service(s)

I must be really "seasoned." Once there was not one, not two, but three national news wire services. They were Associated Press, of couse, and also United Press and International News Service. Imagine that many choices available to a newsroom.

When I started in the business, my radio station subscribed to International. Not long after (the year? I won't tell) INS merged with United Press to become United Press International.

Then, there were two -- United Press International and Associated Press.

Then, there was one. UPI went out of active business (it still exists but only in a skeletal form after being bought and sold several times.) Associated Press became the one and only national news wire based in the United States.

Reuters has been around perhaps longer than AP. But it's AP that's found in most U.S. newsrooms.

Competition was once keen among the three, then between the two. Now, there's the one and I sense there's little if any urgency to satisfy subscribers -- thus, the ultimate consumer, the public.

At least it doesn't exist in domestic broadcast newsrooms.

Case in point: Today, just as I was beginning an hour-long live news program, I noticed a bulletin on the AP national wire. It was one sentence about a federal judge ruling that California could, indeed, impose greenhouse gas emission restrictions on automakers. That's a story of interest to my audience Thirty minutes later all that remained was the one sentence with no elaboration.

I wanted the story. Before I went live, I checked an internet source that carries Associated Press. There was a full story. I read it live.

Thirty minutes after that? My expensive subscription, satelittle-delivered Associated Press wire delivered the same story to me.

But that was an hour later than the original headine. And a half hour after I got the AP story elsewhere.

Should my newsroom continue to pay money for a properietary, expensive feed?