Letter: “With Good Will”

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“With good will, harmonious moving forward is still possible.” This is the sentiment that Ann Christoph expresses to end her column in last week’s Indy in which she recounts how the City was initially blamed for the devastating 1993 fire and that later reports established that provision of air support was the critical factor in the rapid spread of the fire.

Los Angeles Times reported Dec. 4, 1993  “Two helicopters that OC fire officials believe could have prevented the Laguna Beach fire disaster have sat grounded for years because cash-strapped county officials opted not to spend the [funds] to refurbish them…” In a Feb. 25, 1994 report by The Times on the comprehensive post-mortem by OC fire officials that is headlined “Copters Urged for Battling O.C. Wildfires.”

It concerns me that The Indy trumpets news scoops by its editor but never runs an editorial.  I guess that’s a concession to retail survival. More seriously, it allows its columnist lineup to regularly lie in the pages of the newspaper. Yes, it ran a small correction last week to a very serious, in fact, libelous lie but that was an exception.

I have pointed this out to the editor in the past and been told, “The Indy is a marketplace of ideas.” This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the difference between facts and interpretation. Please see above.

In the spirit and tone of Ann Christoph’s column, let me suggest that The Indy practice more oversight of its columnists’ assertions before they go to press. Having an opinion column is not a license to prevaricate in the name of the First Amendment. That is a failure of journalism—one of the pillars of democracy.

Most importantly, Laguna Beach is a wonderful place and we are all so fortunate to live here and to be neighbors to one another and enjoy its beauty. Let’s resolve to move forward harmoniously in an atmosphere of factual accuracy. Many thanks.

Kiku Terasaki, Laguna Beach

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