Catherine Doe, Editor/Owner of the Valley Voice, received a hearty round of applause from a packed house during a recent community forum that focused on “Fake News.” The audience expressed their appreciation for the paper’s coverage of the problems at Tulare Hospital. Sponsored by the Visalia Times Delta and 210 Connect, panelists included both journalists and elected political leaders.
While I know the Valley Voice offers a liberal opinion viewpoint, their investigative reporting is generally excellent. The paper is free, so I shall not complain about the owner’s political tilt to the left.
Catherine discussed the challenge they financially face since they are totally supported by advertising. Should they publish potentially negative stories about the businesses that advertise with them?
The Valley Voice deserves credit for offering true, but potentially damaging information, about Visalia Unified’s Measure A bond at the same time as they had paid ads supporting the bond. The district had never been confronted about the January 2018 report by their outside consultant which states their 4 mainstream high schools enrolled 7,640 students in 2017/18 and they currently have total classroom capacity for 8,613. That information was ignored by both the Visalia Times Delta and the Fresno Bee.
But Valley Voice reporter David Adalian wrote a balanced article about the issue after securing comments from the district administrators. It was old time journalism at its best.
The forum about “Fake News” should probably have focused on the public’s declining trust in the news media. A 2018 Gallup survey showed only 23% of the public now has a “great deal or quite a lot of confidence in newspapers.” The result is that the number of newspaper newsroom employees has dropped by 45% between 2008 and 2017, according to a Pew survey.
Ignoring good truthful news stories is just as damaging to newspaper credibility as printing “Fake News.” The Fresno Bee reporter on the panel stated their remaining staff is now gathered on just one level of their large building and they expect to become an all-digital news outlet in a few short years.
Folks may mock Congressman Nunes’ 38 page campaign magazine focused on the biased news coverage of him by the Fresno Bee – but to former readers it simply recapped what they already knew. Unwarranted criticism of him had already become an unbearable personal insult to the judgement of the majority of valley voters who support the Congressman.
The opinion pieces in the Valley Voice may work to get my blood pressure up when 3 cups of coffee won’t. But I will also give them kudos for some excellent news coverage.