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November 10, 2007 06:11 AM UTC

Go Ahead and Talk; I'll Just Write Down Whatever

  • by: Colorado Pols

Journalists in Colorado get a hard time from both the right and the left. Some of it is justified, and some of it is not. Reporters make mistakes just like the rest of us, and most of the time their errors are just honest mistakes.

But then there are those reporters who, quite literally, just invent things in their stories. Check out this piece from Colorado Media Matters and you’ll understand more why Rocky Mountain News reporter Chris Barge has joined the Karen Crummy pantheon of “Uh…what?” journalism:

The article by Chris Barge reported that in appearing before the committee to present his first proposed budget, Ritter “defended his recent executive order giving unions a stronger voice in state government, saying it won’t cost the state anything.” Barge further reported:

Rep. Steve Johnson, R-Fort Collins, told Ritter the state already gives its employees one of the most generous compensation packages in the country.

In fact, according to an audio recording of the hearing, while Johnson did raise a concern about potential long-term costs resulting from the partnership order, he did not claim that Colorado state workers’ pay and benefits were among the nation’s “most generous”…

…Johnson apparently was referring to an annual Colorado Department of Personnel & Administration survey that assesses state workers’ compensation relative to private-sector wages for similar jobs in Colorado.

Moreover, Johnson’s other comments to and questions of Ritter during the hearing did not include any remarks similar to that reported by the News.[Pols emphasis]

Put any preconceived notions about these issues aside for a moment and think about this: A reporter covered a budget committee hearing, and the quotes he used in his story weren’t actually said. We get accused all the time at Colorado Pols of inventing stories (we don’t, if you were concerned), but at least we’ve never been accused of fabricating things that people said.


25 thoughts on “Go Ahead and Talk; I’ll Just Write Down Whatever

    1. Colorado Media Matters is hardly a credible source or critic.

      It’s a hard left supporter of unions and their political lackies, including Ritter.

      1. An adio recording is not credible evidence enough of an event that occured? I guess we should throw testimony, eye witness accounts, and previous history of incidents right out the window as well when making judgement.

        Isn’t it usually the hard right that calls the media bias, and now your defeding a journalist because he’s printing a view you “want” to believe rather than taking any facts into consideration.

        We cal that “crazy.”

      2. Media Matters may appear biased and partisan in some reports, but this one was pretty straightforward. This particular report has nothing to do with spin – it’s about correct vs. incorrect. If we wrote that the sky is green, you don’t have to have an agenda to point out that the sky is really blue.

      3. Why should I trust a lunatic left outfit like Marxist Media Matters over a respected reporter?  The most likely explanation is that Barge, after the meeting,  asked Johnson expand on or explain his comments.  The points Barge quotes him making are, a, absolutely accurate and b, points Johnson and other legislators have made repeatedly. 

        1. The story explicitly says that Johnson said these things DURING THE HEARING.

          Either Johnson did say these things, or he didn’t. There’s no gray area here.

          The Denver Broncos play the Kansas City Chiefs tomorrow. If Denver loses 24-17, but the newspapers report that they WON 24-17, that is a factual error. Pointing out that error doesn’t make you biased, and it doesn’t change the fundamental nature of the error.

          Besides, you don’t have to trust Media Matters. Read the story in the Rocky yourself, and then listen to the audiotape online – yourself. Facts don’t change depending on who is paying attention.

          1. Johnson didn’t say those things even though you weren’t there because A: tapes pick up everything at a meeting “they don’t.  I often listen in on the internet, and there are usually gaps when it isn’t picking up the sounds,)  and B, because a fellow far-left blog says they didn’t and you lefties stick together?  or is the answer both A and B?  Your bias is showing again, boys.

            1. But you maintain that you aren’t hurt.

              Give it up, dude.  You’re starting (???) to sound like a nutcase.  I didn’t say you are, but how you are sounding.

              1. story sounds like you’re speaking from experience, parsifal.  It would go a long way to explain your constant incoherence and muddled thinking, I have to admit.

            2. Objective fact is fact regardless of where you here it from.  Analysis is often biased, but this is a case of pure objective fact.

              The more you deny objective fact, the less credible you are when applying analysis to those facts.

              1. I remember seeing Barge hand-in-hand with O’Donnell and his campaign team for much of the campaign. He has shown which party he sides with in almost everything he writes. I hate to break it to you hard headed conservatives, but all you have left to argue is fudged and ill-conceived issues and points.

      4. This is an easy one to verify; budget hearings, including the one last week with Ritter, are broadcast over the Internet. Anyone can listen to them. In addition, the library at the state capitol archives all hearings, and anyone can go down there and listen to them on the library’s computers. YOu can even copy them down onto a CD – the computers have CD burners. The recordings are very accurate….all of this is so easy to verify it’s laughable.

    2. It sounds like there’s still no response to Media Matters’ allegations from reporter Barge – nor will there be.

      There used to be a time when newspapers ran corrections when warranted…

  1. Many Polsters recall that I have a woody for crappy journalism.  Some pundit, referring to the White House press corps call them “stenographers” since they took everything at face value.

    If true, this is just part of an ongoing process.  Yesterday, after reading the local alleged newspaper with at least two writing errors that I noticed, I commented to my mother that the great journalists of her generation probably never even went to college.  Now we have thousands of journalism graduates who can’t construct a sentence or tell the basic questions of who, what, when, where, why.  (Thank you Mrs. Hemlepp in 8th grade!) 

    And editors?  What’s an editor? Hey, it passed spell check! 

      1. not only is circulation flat to declining because of the plethora of news outlets, but craigslist has gutted about 1/3 of the newspaper’s traditional revenues. this means there is less money for staff, when combined with ownership who see reporters and editors as a cost center as opposed to the developers of product, the quality of news declines.

        This makes the dependance on press releases and wire synopses even greater

        What makes this even worse is that TV has traditionally relied on newspapers for story generation.  without quality newspapers there is nothing for TV (or the internet for tht matter) to report.

        The only substitute for local papers are blogs, which are of mixed quaity and not vetted.  You hav to sort through  lot of bullshit and have a lot of knowledge and research sill to self vet internet information.  Not the ideal situation for the retail news consumer.

        I don’t know what the solution is.

        1. What we do now is not that different from what we had at the founding of the country. The newspapers of that time were small operations used mainly to support a political group.

          The professional independent paper is something that came into being in the 20th century and even then many were still advertising vehicles with a smattering of some news. It was really WWII on that we got what we considered the norm.

          When real estate listings move to the web I think the local papers are going to die off. It will be interesting to see what takes it’s place…

  2. To add insult to injury, Barge thought he’d demote Sen. Steve Johnson — referring to him as “Rep. Steve Johnson…”. If you’re going to make things up, it’s more credible if you get the small, incontestable details right. Better luck next time.

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