Letter: Regarding Bias and Journalistic Standards in Aug. 27 edition

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In a small community, the local newspaper is critically important because it covers very local issues that may not be covered elsewhere. This means that the newspaper must adhere to the basic principles of journalistic practice. Among them:

Factual Accuracy

Michael Ray’s column is headlined: Who Wants Hotel Laguna Closed? and then goes on to claim that Village Laguna (VL) is “trying as hard as possible to stop the reopening of Hotel Laguna.” Mr. Ray references getting a tour of the hotel. How does he have that access? Because he is a supporter of the “incredibly controversial” owner, Mo Honarkar. Mr. Ray characterizes the renovation as “spectacular, gorgeous, lovingly restored.” Then he baldly asserts that Village Laguna is “trying as hard as possible to stop the reopening.’’ This is manifestly untrue. See all the coverage of VL’s position in the newspaper!

The Editor of the Indy has said to me that he requires all columnists to demonstrate that their assertions are factual. What happened here?

Inclusivity

Billy Fried’s guest column burlesques this same issue in a repugnant attempt to assign blame for any contention over development in the City as generated by doddering, deaf, bingo-playing oldsters who gather at the Susi Q.

This tone and its underlying ageism is beneath the usual civil tone of the paper’s columns. Why was this allowed?

Fairness, Impartiality and Independence

Last week’s coverage of the City Council’s censure of Councilmember George Weiss did not include coverage of objections to letting Mr. Honarkar proceed without having met the legal requirements imposed on his project. Do we want to know that the building is seismically safe?

This week’s front page story once again fails to address the actual facts of the case; instead it raises the specter of lawsuits! No outside expert opinion or explanatory information is provided, merely dueling quotes from antagonists. This is not what we need from the Indy.

There are multiple Letters to the Editor this week attempting to provide facts and interpretations of these same issues. This is because the paper itself has not provided fair and impartial coverage.

I have often wished that the Editor would actually write editorials about these issues but in any case it must do much better in its coverage and adhere more closely to the canons of journalistic practice so that it lives up to its name.

Kiku Terasaki, Laguna Beach

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