critical analysis of Steamboat Today newspaper article bias, bad journalism, 27 May 2016, School Employees Upset by Teresa Ristow, approved by editor Lisa Schlichtman
news & my commentary on Steamboat Today's defense of front page news reported in the paper Friday, May 27 headlined: School Employees Upset
If you've read the article referenced above, did you notice the ordering of important facts essential to the story's background? Some were omitted, such as the $40K in teachers union financial backing that elected Margie Huron to the Board of Education. Compare what's presented on Steamboat Today's front page with selectively-postponed facts in the reporter's narrative continuing inside the paper.
June 1, school board counsel judged there to be no conflict-of-interest for recused board member Margie Huron in last week's showdown over adoption of a pay package for Steamboat teachers, as recommended by the union bargaining team whose members include Margie Huron's daughter, a teacher in the district.
June 2, at the standing-room-only Special Board of Education meeting Thursday evening, the board voted a 3-2 approval of the Collective Bargaining Plan without any escape outlook in year-over-year deficit spending habits. No progress for months or years on that. Also, with the State of Colorado boosting PERA perks this year benefitting career teachers, local education districts saw state school funding trimmed. Hooray for Steamboat teachers who DO educate some of Colorado's brightest public education students. I'm not opposed to rewarding deserving teachers. Some simply whine.
stopped while biking past the scene of the crime against impartial journalism

Hickenlooper signs bill to align school board elections: Steamboat School board member Roger Good attends bill signing in Denver by Jim Patterson, Steamboat Today - story buried on page 11 of June 9 printed edition.
Steamboat Today participated in tilting the 3-2 board vote on deficit-financed, unionized teacher pay hikes. In the days running up to the key vote, the local newspaper joined as an enthusiastic accomplice, its Editorial Board throwing full support behind Margie Huron and the teachers union quest. Steamboat Today's editor is blind to her own journalistic prejudices, as my email transcripts with her reveal. Until Steamboat Today's next outrageous example of biased reporting, I rest my case.
June 9, 2016

Complete Colorado has a straight-up published NEWS report on the Steamboat Springs school board vote drama, what was financially at stake and what still doesn't pass the smell test despite a legal opinion to the contrary. In the final stretch unionized teachers were cheerleaded by Steamboat Today editorially and reportorially.
All residents and taxpayers wishing to be fully informed of the facts are encouraged to read Sherrie Peif's coverage Negotiator's mom changes tunes, votes for raises despite deficit spending then compare it with Teresa Ristow's particularly on May 26/27 and her report on the 3-2 board vote. Complete Colorado actually quotes Roger Good.
June 7, 2016

Since working through the proper channels to achieve public accountability and responsiveness from the local daily paper throughout Routt County does not appear to be working, I am publishing online my entire, verbatim transcripts of email exchanges I initiated with Steamboat Today newspaper editor Lisa Schlichtman commencing Friday, May 27. She stopped responding June 4, the same day she apparently spiked my Letter to the Editor (which she had encouraged me to submit). Raw News Happens, based on what people say on-the-record, after all. Steamboat Today obviously wishes this matter would sunset (as its shelf life has now expired) since the Steamboat Board of Education 3-2 split settled the smelly matter to their liking. While Steamboat Today & The Sunday Pilot buys its ink by-the-barrel, sunshine is the best disinfectant. I will spotlight downright bad reporting when I see it. I have alerted other news outlets in Colorado to read these otherwise unpublished facts about newsroom judgment calls in remote northwestern Colorado. It is a small town example of transformative, socially-conscientious (they believe) journalism, NYT-style openly practiced in tiny news markets as well. Creeping journalistic compromises are made daily to please, appease and retain dwindling readership.
June 6, 2016

In an invitation mentioned more than once by Steamboat Today editor Lisa Schlichtman to have my comments published under OPINIONS, I accepted, within allowed length limits, dispatched the morning of June 3, sent to her email address and uploaded via the newspaper's standard log-in ID submission page Letters to the Editor. As of midday Saturday, June 4, the letter had yet to be pumping any electrons over there. As back-up, I emailed a slightly more polished set of my detailed concerns to Lisa's email inbox before the 2pm daily deadline for next day discourse/publication. My freshened, account log-in credentials had failed when attempting multiple log ins to upload, refreshed passwords notwithstanding.
What follows is my synthesis / perspective on Steamboat Today's assertion of reportorial impartiality at a public, political annual cusp showdown throwing the weight of its Editorial Board entirely with the fortunes and stated goals of the Steamboat teachers union VERSUS (actually a joint attack on) individual board members Roger Good and Joey Andrew. In this more enlightened day and age, no blow is too low as viewed through the editorial prism of what appears as a mirage of fair journalism. Ask them, they'll tell you.
Riddle: what does Steamboat Today have in common with Howelsen Hill? Both exhibit slippery slopes, with the newspaper's editor choosing to abandon standard principles of journalistic integrity when sympathies override the value of maintaining an impartial, straight-talking press. Welcome to advocacy journalism, Steamboat. It's alive and well with Editor Lisa Schlichtman's blessing in the westside newsroom.
Indeed, the paper's Editorial Board engaged in a redundancy exercise this week to enthusiastically and unconditionally endorse the local teachers union. Careful readers of last Friday's front page sweetheart kiss by reporter Teresa Ristow, "School employees upset: District staff voice frustration over split decision on pay raises" provide all the evidence you need. Paper's favorite facts play on page 1, mentions of Huron mother-daughter conflict and deficit spending buried inside.
Ristow quoted former employee union leader Babette Dickson declaring "war against Good and Andrew." I know Roger Good, however there's no quid-pro-quo. I do this fact-finding, independently as an investigative journalist by training. (career included KBTV newsman/substitute anchor in the 1980s, 9News, KUSA now) Good answered a few questions I asked, particularly as an elected official and his treatment by this "newspaper". He said he wasn't contacted by Ristow after Dickson leveled her outrage at Good and Andrew printed in the paper's May 27 edition.
I initiated an email dialogue with editor Lisa Schlichtman, focusing on, "...why did reporter Ristow not reach out to Good for his reaction?" As a reporter tasked with follow-up and fairness, this obligation is INSTINCTIVE, particularly when one individual impugns another, Roger Good, a publicly elected official. Schlichtman was vague and evasive, first backing her reporter, believing Ristow performed her duty to seek comment from Mr. Good on Dickson's adversarial remark.

In our email exchanges, Lisa dodged offering a direct, authoritative answer until Tuesday, May 31, when I again pressed her via email. Her response came at a minute past 10am Tuesday: "She (reporter Teresa Ristow) did not call Roger for Thursday's article but did for Wednesday. She talked to Joey and assumed both Joey and Roger did not want to respond." Dickson's attack quote published Thursday online, Friday in the rag. Reporter Ristow simply assumed any comments Roger might make were irrelevant to her chosen narrative. When I asked Schlichtman about the prospect of apologizing on behalf of the paper to Roger Good, she declined, dismissing me as a "middle man", a false presumption, to be sure, but her's nonetheless. What a professional!
It's a revealing smoking gun moment, Steamboat readers. Your news is being manufactured to the quality control standards enforced or waived at the discretion of editor Lisa Schlichtman, the woman in charge of this fiasco masquerading as news.
Meanwhile, reporter Ristow is encouraged to rally on with a know-it-all disposition choosing which newsmakers to speak with and which to avoid in ALL future articles here, political or not. Look at all the integrity safety valves in place: a socially sensitive, defensive editor, an Editorial Board that okey-dokes the whole enchilada. What could possibly provide greater employment security than working for the Steamboat Today News Manufacturing Company? Likely, editorially inappropriate for a paper you can trust.
Sure, dismiss this as lunacy, wacko, conspiracy theory if you wish, but liberals do railroad the media trained as leftist J-school grads by and large. Witness Steamboat Today proudly aligning with MSNBC, Huffington Post and Slate. Notice these journalists do not apologize. Their agenda: have us spend more than we have, forever!
Judge the facts. Accept no substitute for the truth.
Kean Scott Monahan
June 3 & 4, 2016, updated mid-afternoon Saturday, June 4: Steamboat Today Letters to the Editor is TOTALLY DARK re: my Letter to the Editor submission 24 hours earlier. OK, it's the weekend, I expect a wait for answers, again. However, I notified Lisa Schlichtman by email with text of my refreshed Letter to the Editor direct to her newspaper email inbox at 1:10 Saturday. June 4 with an updated listing of editorial missteps by newspaper staff, guidance and editing.

see also Wednesday's (1 June 2016) Steamboat Today editorial School board division is concerning wherein Good and Andrew are urged to back down and let collective bargaining work, because it is the right thing for the community.
excerpt: "In our opinion, both Huron and Andrew should have recused themselves from the vote or neither of them should have, and we believe those actions should have been taken only after the board consulted with their legal counsel about the issue."
Notice here the equivalency argument of "upset school employees" wins the backing of the Steamboat Today Editorial Board. Consider a mother board member doing anything but approving her teachers' union negotiator daughter's will to overrun deficit spending considerations to accomplish the lofty ideal of what's best for Steamboat kids. How is this equivalent to the clear insignificance of board member Joey Andrew happening to have a non-unionized district teacher as a sister? Any such trumped-up comparison by the local paper pales beyond an order of magnitude when applying any reasonable standards for determining the merit and risk for conflict-of-interest. Why is the newspaper attempting to contrast a fabricated conflict with one harboring a familial association likely to rubberstamp the teachers union demands if publicly excused in the whirlwind of idealism? Clearly, the community's funding level for teachers demands is prospectively at risk on the cusp. Forget the gold-plated PERA perks retired career teachers earn! An instance of related parties, behind the scenes, colluding philosophically or in actuality? Gosh, think that could happen? Here in Steamboat?
June 1 & 2, 2016

Thread began with this post:
Editor Lisa Schlichtman confirms my original suspicions, following days of my persistence obtaining definitive answers from her having to do with the observation of some standard reporting practices at her shop. Reporter Teresa Ristow failed in her obligation to seek comment from school board member Roger Good once she had harvested the following quote for publication from former teachers union leader Babette Dickson: "I declare the war against Good and Andrew." How much more personal can one get?
Upon being informed of the details I had sought from Editor Schlichtman earlier this date, I responded by email, "I believe the newspaper owes an apology to Mr. Good. What do you think?"
37 minutes later came Ms. Schlichtman's response: "I do not agree but thanks for the suggestion. I've been in communication with Roger and will talk to him directly. No need for a middle man."
But there does seem to be the need for a journalistic watchdog's oversight in this community. This backstory involves a series of tweaks to the article's exposition, ordering (and hence, relative importance) of the facts and curious placement of the key reason for a contentious board split vote earlier in the week, postponed as page 2's paragraph caboose. Taken ensemble, there's cause to believe advocacy journalism is alive and well at the local paper with the editor's endorsement. It is a slippery slope, not unlike our Howelsen Hill, in journalistic integrity at work in the local newsroom. Ethics and fairness should matter, but are optional today if the cause seems righteous to reporters and their editors, reason some people.
A letter to the editor is forthcoming. It would be best, I think, for the newspaper to come clean absent my withering revelations TBA recounting objectionable details already made known to Ms. Schlichtman about this article's straight-fowardness. She knows of my specified issues already, and could knowledgeably write about this in defense of her paper on this matter. Make it a front page apology, Lisa, citing Roger Good by name, admitting the problems, with the same headline font and front page space of Steamboat Today's woefully partial exposition gracing the front page FRIDAY MAY 27.
May 31, 2016
©2016 Kean Scott Monahan

Scott Monahan
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