I am a frequent lurker and newly registered member. While there is much to discuss and consider around the events at TESC the night of the 14th, I'm here with some questions about the Olympian and general media coverage.
I rely on OlyBlog for a lot of local news, and based on information gleaned from here, it seems that the Olympian did not do any significant investigation into what happened. It’s eerily familiar to me from their Port protest reporting. During the Port protests in November, the paper frequently quoted the Chief of Police and officials at the Port in regards to the motivation of protesters without allowing those folks to represent themselves.
What I noticed with the TESC riot is the same thing: the rioters are represented by an officer with the Washington State Patrol, stating that “They didn’t feel the arrest that was being made was fair.” [http://www.theolympian.com/570/story/360206.html] Having read first-hand accounts posted on OlyBlog and elsewhere, it appears that many people in the crowd were infuriated by what they perceived as a racially motivated and inaccurate arrest. This is not reflected anywhere in the initial story or any subsequent updates in the Olympian.
The first-hand accounts sent out by Tony Zaragoza strengthen my perception that the Olympian did not do anything to identify a chronology, but simply collapsed events together in a way that seemingly justifies the actions of one party while placing disproportionate blame on the other group. In its coverage of the riot, the Olympian omitted how and when the pepper spray was used, thus making it appear that the crowd got violent first. This is especially noticeable and concerning after the release today by the Geoduck Union of footage from that night.
I was not present at the riot. I have a number of thoughts and emotions around what happened, but my interest here is simply in stating that I think that there is a fuller story than what the Olympian reported. This fuller story still has not been acknowledged by the paper. I am especially concerned because their stories form the basis for regional coverage when something in Olympia is deemed news-worthy-- and it's the initial article that gets repeated, omissions and all.
Personally, I hope for a good faith effort on the part of journalists to understand a situation in detail, through observation and investigation, and to assist me in gaining a fuller understanding of an issue. I’ve started avoiding the Olympian, because I think that at least on certain topics, the paper reflects of negative and reactionary public opinion rather than genuine reporting. I question the paper’s credibility and professionalism. Why is acceptable to demand accountability from disorganized crowds, and not from public institutions that are organized, funded, and carry out intentional commands?
What do you all expect from local journalism?