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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Editor's Note Re: 33rd Senate District Race

There have been some recent comments charging, or alluding to, bias in our coverage of the 33rd Senate District race. In the interest of full disclosure and transparency, I did publish an Editor’s Note in the Norwood News about this recently but I see now that I should post something here, too.

The anonymous commenter in a previous post is correct. My wife, Margaret Groarke, is a supporter and volunteer in the campaign of Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter. I, however, do not support any candidate. Nor does the Norwood News, the Tremont Tribune, the Mount Hope Monitor or this blog. In fact, as a non-profit, tax-exempt organization, we are prohibited from making endorsements. But even if that weren’t the case, we deeply believe our role is not to tell our readers who to vote for but to give you as much information as possible to help you make your own decision. That’s what we’ll be doing in the coming weeks, here and in our community newspapers. And that’s what I’ve done in more than 15 years of editing the Norwood News, and more recently the publications of the Bronx News Network.

One more thing: We are a news organization, but a short-staffed one. I do very little reporting these days and none on this race (though I do participate occasionally in editorial discussions) as most of my work involves the business side of things and managing and building the Bronx News Network. So in terms of full-time editorial staff, we only have two editors (James Fergusson and Alex Kratz) who somehow manage to edit and write for three newspapers, write for the blog, and run a youth journalism program. We also have one part-time reporter (Jeanmarie Evelly). Alex and James also are responsible for assigning stories to our reporting interns and edit everything the interns write for our newspapers and the blog, not to mention all the administrative tasks in their job descriptions. So, obviously, they have a lot to do in a day and they’re not going to be able to cover everything and they’re going to have to make choices about what they cover and how they cover it. But our paramount objectives are fairness and accuracy and getting as much information out to you as humanly possible.

You’re of course free to be critical of anything we write and point out where you think we’re erring – that’s the beauty of the Web. It’s an intense level of accountability that we welcome and that we think makes us all better journalists.

Speaking of accountability, you should also know that you can talk about coverage with any of us at any time. If you would like a staff listing of e-mail addresses, just e-mail me at jordan-at-bronxnewsnetwork.org and I’ll send it right over to you. You can also call any of us at anytime at (718) 324-4998.

Thanks for participating in the discussions on the Bronx News Network. Keep the comments coming.

Jordan Moss
Executive Editor


  1. It’s important that Bronx readers (or viewers of mine) who have concerns about bias in Bronx media communicate them. And regardless of how effective you feel it is, Jordan’s response is interesting, admirable, and an important part of the ongoing political dialogue in our politically-challenged borough.

    However, while the question was a good one to ask, the blogger posted it anonymously and in this case, as well as in so many other passionate political postings that I read on Bronx blogs, that fact only hurts the ultimate validity of the point being made.

    It’s ironic that someone who is asking for accountability from the editor is not willing to offer any of his/her own.

    My advice? As this fascinating political season develops, If you want to make a stronger point, especially when it comes to Bronx politics, put your name on it!

  2. GAX,

    A person's name makes a thoughtful point no more, and no less, thoughtful.

    With some of the spiteful personal attacks we see in these discussions, it makes sense for some people to feel more comfortable posting anonymously. They shouldn't be discouraged from participating because there are some in our community who want to shout everyone down, call them a racist, whatever.

    And it's not like the readers share the same responsibility as an editor drawing a paycheck!

    Let's all just agree to stick to the subtance of the issues, and to treat everyone with respect.

  3. kudos to jmoss for this...if only the same transparency were present in our state senator...

  4. dear (the first) anonymous...

    review what happened on this blog during the cabrera/tapia/baez race. it was out of control because people said whatever they wanted with no responsibility to it. they lied, insulted, stretched the truth, and spread tons of false information. people with political agendas or an ax to grind used these postings like weapons in their political agenda.

    and i can tell from years of fielding phone calls on television, there are politicians who try to stuff the phones all the time. in fact, in the past, mr. espada did it plenty. i can show you tapes where he even had some of his very recognizable staffers call and ask innocent questions as if it was just the general public calling.

    so as we enter this very competitive campaign in this very interesting and important election season, we need to find ways to limit the rancor and innuendo and try an heighten the level of dialogue. and one way of doing that is by eliminating anonymous quotes on this and other bronx blogs. kapish?

  5. and let me just add ... a thoughtful person's name makes his thoughtful point no more or less thoughtful. but NOT having a name, gives a thoughtless person a license to stay thoughtless and lie. that's the problem and history on this blog shows that becomes rampant.

    why do you think newspapers insist on names addresses and phone numbers? and more and more blogs insist that you register before you can post? because it heightens the level of dialogue and eliminates the BS.

    let us RAISE our standard of discourse in the Bronx and not lower it.

  6. GAX,

    It is because of the intimidation that people may feel more comfortable being anonymous. Let's not alienate them.

    Also note that posting anonymously forces people to address the issue. It eliminates the opportunity to deflect into an attack on that person's motives, character, etc.

    And, obviously, anybody could have made up a fake name and still "lied, insulted, stretched the truth, and spread tons of false information." Posting as anonymous is more honest.

    In fact, one almost has to wonder what prompted this from you at this time. The anonymous comment you referenced was certainly polite, honest, and relevant. Could it be that you wanted to know who it was so you could divert attention from their point to some other question? Perhaps not, but you can see the potential problem.

  7. “It eliminates the opportunity to deflect into an attack on that person's motives, character, etc.”

    Clearly you didn’t see what happened on this blog (and others) during the campaign for the 15th council district! The attacks were frequent and personal and in many cases racist and vile. Charges of infidelity were rampant and the entire dialogue denigrated into an unnecessarily disrespectful street fight.

    Sorry, but what you’re saying just doesn’t work.

    As far as ulterior motive … hey, I thought the original posting raised an excellent and important journalistic question and I thought Jordan deserves credit for answering it as honestly as he could. It was mature, intelligent and as an onlooker, I thought it made for great theater.
    And since my name is on it and you know who you’re talking to, no one knows better than me in this borough about retribution for public political stances; my professional career is a living and breathing result of it. So I assure you, my motive is as I said… a desire to raise the level political discourse in the Bronx. Something we should all endorse.

  8. Recent comment on the boogiedowner from anthony rivieccio clearly shows adding your name does nothing to guarantee more substantive or civil comments.

    The anonymous postings by many people there were more substantive and less personal. The fact remains that responding to an anonymous comment requires engaging that comment, rather than some prior grievance against the individual. You might make an ugly allegation or racist comment, but it still has to find some foothold in the actual discussion.

    So let's stick to the point. Focus on the content of a comment. Leave out the personality.

    We might speculate that you gain from using your name, as it promotes your show. But that's exactly the type of off-point speculation that tends to run so many discussions right into the gutter. (And to be fair, I do want to recognize I don't actually think it's true.)

    Anonymous postings can actually help.

  9. Quite true. Anything I post on a Bronx blog – or anywhere - with my name promotes my show. There's nothing i can about that, it's just the way it is. I recognize it, accept it, and use it to my advantage when i can. Sure. Why not? it's the business I'm in.

    But if I didn’t put my name to it, I could probably put all kinds of things out there that surreptitiously promotes the show or advocates any personal or professional or political agenda I have. You tell me, which is method is more forthright and honest?

    For example, if i post that i saw something really interesting on BronxTalk last night and that the host asked really good questions... wouldn't you rather know it came from me?

  10. If someone commented, " i saw something really interesting on BronxTalk last night and that the host asked really good questions..." I would have to assume it was you.



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