Camera’s attacks on Council inspire rebuttals

Paper's "expose" of Councilman a coincidence? Writer thinks not.

| Aug 25, 2010

This was one of the offending Camera stories.

Two Daily Camera articles that seem like part of an orchestrated smear campaign against the sitting Boulder City Council have been met with pointed rebuttals in The Blue Line, a website that is unofficially affiliated with PLAN-Boulder County and that serves as a forum for community progressives.

In the first article, titled “Revenge Journalism” and posted Aug. 24, Blue Line editor Liz Payton wrote:

The day after Macon Cowles criticized and corrected a Boulder Daily Camera article about the proposed City budget … the paper, in its front page article (Error Leads to Tax Discount, 8/24/2010) invented a scandal and, in so doing, legitimized a personal vendetta against the Boulder councilman.

This is revenge journalism and it is where we find our local newspaper today.

Read rest of Liz Payton’s story in The Blue Line

In a second article also posted Aug. 24, Boulder Mayor Susan Osborne leads off by saying, not too subtly, “I guess I’ve about had it with our local hometown newspaper.” She noted that it was news to her that the Council was seeking a 27 percent budget increase for itself, continuing:

The article then went on to suggest a free-spending council giving itself meals, memberships and a variety of perks that led to consistent over-spending. A few featured and unfortunate quotes from a city employee, a juicy quote about unbudgeted i-phones and travel costs taken from the city manager’s budget unveiled the scandal.

“For myself, I am left utterly puzzled about the Camera’s motives,” Mayor Osborne wrote. “This negative slant and sensationalist story-telling about the city council has become a pattern.” And later:

I suppose I’d also add the petty personal attacks on council members by the same disgruntled handful of folks that are regularly quoted in the newspaper. Today’s Camera headlines the difference between the assessed value and the asking price of a councilmember’s home. It is a non-story whose only purpose is to embarrass and to suggest corruption by innuendo. I think this is called yellow journalism.

Read the rest of Mayor Susan Osborne’s article in The Blue Line

They’re right, of course. One doesn’t know the source of the Camera‘s obvious intent to besmirch the Council — and in particular its narrow progressive majority. Heath Urie is the beat reporter covering the Council. It’s likely the direction of coverage is coming from higher up — and from pressure being put on the Camera by business elements who view the Council majority as too populist and too environmentalist for their taste.

In addition, the Camera‘s policy of letting people post comments on its website using anonymous pseudonyms now serves as a platform for ill-mannered, mean-spirited venting. That policy should be revisited immediately. 

RELATED: Councilman Cowles’ rebuttal of earlier Camera inaccuracies (Boulder Reporter Aug. 23 story).