Help Make the McK Press Better!

Dear readers,

We at the McKinleyville Press want to put out a paper every week that serves the communities of McKinleyville, Blue Lake, Fieldbrook and Trinidad. To do this right, we need to hear from you, our readers.

Of course we love pats on the back to boost our morale at the newspaper office. And we’re also open to criticism of the constructive variety (translation: be kind).

  • Which sections/columns/features are your favorites?
  • What would you like to see us add or develop?
  • Do you know about some unsung hero here in our community? If you hear of any good story ideas, drop us an email at news@mckinleyvillepress.com
  • Would you like to get the word out about your upcoming event? Coming soon: Our new brochure explaining how to write a good press release.

Thank you for your help!

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26 Comments

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26 responses to “Help Make the McK Press Better!

  1. Anonymous

    Dump Daniel Mintz and get somebody more balanced and well-trained (i.e. AP standards) to write your stories. And quit regurgitating copy I could read just as well in The Independent.

  2. Hey, thanks for the feedback, Anonymous. We now have a copy of the “AP Guide to News Writing” in our office for our writers to check out. It’s an indispensable tool, I agree.

    We are grateful to Daniel for attending long and sometimes tedious meetings and then untangling the bureaucracy for our readers. We appreciate his intelligence and community-oriented outlook.

    And of course it is the dream of every small-town paper to have one full-time dedicated reporter, but the truth is weeklies usually only have part-time jobs to offer to reporters. And the reporters have to make ends meet somehow.

    As for copy reappearing in the Independent, we small-town newspapers do try to help one another out sometimes. It is standard procedure if the topic of a story is relevant to readers in both communities.

    Rest assured, Anonymous, that we value your opinion and that we are actively seeking improvement overall at the McKinleyville Press.

  3. Anonymous

    It’s a good thing you don’t just have one reporter to rely on, actually I was suggesting you branch out a bit and shake things up, give me a reason to read your paper instead of just reading the same thing in the Independent.

  4. Anonymous

    I think Daniel Mintz does a good job. Keep it up, I don’t get the independent.

  5. Anonymous

    Good job propping up your own position, Daniel. However, some of us don’t appreciate your blatant bias coming through in your “reporting” often enough to be troubling. Must be one of those unethical habits you picked up from Kevin Hoover.

  6. Anonymous

    Quit bashing our local schools! You constantly report these sensational accounts of wrong-doing without even a bit of proof. You might also want to use a fact checker on Mr. Elsebusch, or at least a disclaimer, otherwise it looks as though you are condoning his nasty diatribe.

    I think I would apreciate a bit more balance and a more neutral tone.

  7. Anonymous 4:23, what you said seems to sum up the views of the other anonymous comments. You wrote: “I think I would appreciate a bit more balance and a more neutral tone.” Balanced reporting is a reasonable expectation for readers to have. We will do our best to bring more of it to our news coverage.

    As for the material on the opinion and editorial (Op-Ed) page, however, what you read there will be opinionated by definition. That’s why newspapers confine material of that sort to pages specifically devoted to it. Our disclaimer is on the page, that the views expressed in the letters and guest editorials do not necessarily represent those of the publishers. We invite those who disagree with what they read there to write a letter or guest editorial of their own.

  8. Jason S.

    I appreciate the great coverage the Press gives the McKinleyville Parks & Recreation Department. Press staff consistently covers community events and helps to promote the Departments leisure and recreation programs.

  9. David Elsebusch

    I believe the McKinleyville Press is doing an excellent job on factually reporting news. Reporting facts never involves “balancing” – that’s left for the opinion pages. I have a suggestion for your blog: Refuse to accept anonymous submissions, and that means full names. There is an obvious and demonstrated ability to do mischief, make false statements and accusations by agenda driven individuals hiding in anonymity.

    To Anonymous on Oct 21 at 4:23 – tell me what needs fact checking and I can provide you documents, but please use your full name . . .

  10. karolwilcox

    David, thanks for the vote of confidence about our writers’ reporting.

    I have to disagree with you, however, that “balancing” should be left to the opinion pages. In fact, the mandate for balance does not concern the opinion pages, thank goodness! There, readers, columnists, organizations and citizens are able to express particular points of view.

    As for reporting, we expect our reporters to be fair and as free from bias as is humanly possible. And in making editorial decisions, we appeal not only to our ethics but also to authoritative sources such as AP guidelines. If we err, we will correct our error as soon as it comes to our attention.

    Regarding anonymous contributions to the blog, this is an interesting issue. Blogs and anonymous comments go hand-in-hand; it is the nature of the genre. The anonymity does often free people to say things they wouldn’t say were their names attached to their statements. The results are often abusive, but as moderators, Jack or I will remove abusive comments, should they occur.

    A blog post that asks for feedback will necessarily receive opinionated response. That’s what we want! We will listen when readers feel that we are “bashing local schools,” have a “blatant bias,” or are “regurgitating” news stories. We asked for our readers’ feelings and we appreciate those people who stepped forward to express them.

    In asking for reader feedback in this post, I also asked for constructive criticism only. I think those who responded did so with respect for my appeal to politeness. I realize that some of the language I quoted above is quite strong, but each person wrote in a context of trusting us to work toward improvement. That’s constructive.

  11. karolwilcox

    Jason, thank you and everyone at Parks and Recreation for all that you do to bring healthy family activities to our community. It is our pleasure to help you get the word out to our readers about recreational events, because these are the things that build community. At the McKinleyville Press, we share that goal.

  12. David Elsebusch

    I really don’t understand your nuanced views of “balanced” news reporting. How about offering an example? As I see it, “unbalanced” news reports are “selective” and are possibly intended to influence readers, which is unacceptable but widely seen in the liberal newspapers. I don’t know how the McKinleyville Press can do any better than it has been when reporting pure news and your writers have been accurate and complete. So, exactly how do you expect to improve?

  13. In keeping with the spirit of the original post, which solicits feedback from readers, Jack and I are listening to criticism of all kinds and turning a critical eye to our work in order to strive for improvement in all areas.

    I’m not sure what you are asking me to provide, David, but hopefully this will clarify the discussion: “Fair,” “balanced” and “unbiased” are ideals that people use more or less interchangeably when discussing the media. We are not asking our readers to become experts in the vernacular of the journalism business. If they sense a lack in any of those areas, we can respond in good faith by taking a closer look at our work.

    What we also hoped to receive in response to this post were good ideas, hot news tips, and reader guidance about which areas to expand, e.g., more sports, more Blue Lake and Fieldbrook, more Fish & Game news, a community calendar, etc.

  14. Bobby

    Has your paper met a tax or bond that you did not like?

    Reading stories and interviews regarding the MK School bond or Trinidad tax is like watching Fox news interview George Bush.

    Your paper never asked any real questions, never brought up the spending issues or people that would be hurt by the bonds and tax. In both cases you make it sound like not voting for them is just stupid.

    Did you ever ask if millions of $$ could be spent on something better in McKinleyville like infrastructure or health instead of building something that already exists?

    Did you ever ask why Trinidad is spending so much money and why they doubled their staff but do nothing for anyone but 12 people and build monuments to themselves?

    Nope, your just a local “Yes” paper for the wealthy and powerfull.

  15. jackdurham

    Dear Bobby,

    Thank you for your comments. I’ve supported the Trinidad sales tax and the Arcata Fire Department benefit assessment. Given our state’s screwed up system of financing local government, I believe that sometimes we have to support such revenue generators.

    A good example is McKinleyville’s Measure B. Without it, we wouldn’t have many parks or park facilities in town. I consider Measure B a worthwhile investment.

    But I strongly opposed a benefit assessment proposed several years ago by the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District.

    As for Measure C, I voted against it because I wasn’t convinced that the school district had made its case that all of the improvements are necessary and that the bond was the best way to finance them.

    That’s not to say that I’m entirely opposed to the idea of a school bond, but I have trouble with some of the details. I’m even more troubled that the campaign to pass the bond was paid for by companies that have a financial interest in the matter. And now the school district is refusing to provide the names of the members of a committee involved in spending our tax dollars!

    I believe our coverage of these issues has been extensive and fair. On the other hand, I always think of dozens of more questions that should have been asked about these taxes. And each question leads to even more questions.

    One of the things we did prior to the Measure C vote was to solicit questions from readers. We should do this more often and we’d welcome your participation.

    We also provide a forum on our opinion pages for readers to express their own opinions on these issues. That forum is available for all sides. It’s also a good place to rip into the McKinleyville Press! We welcome critical comments.

    Cheers,

    Jack

  16. Thanks for responding to that comment, Jack. It was before my time. Besides, I was left speechless by the sheer oxymoronic incompatibility of the double accusation: loving taxes while being similar to Fox news.

  17. Bobby

    “Your paper never asked any real questions, never brought up the spending issues or people that would be hurt by the bonds and tax. In both cases you make it sound like not voting for them is just stupid.”

    So your paper does feel that money should be spent on the school bond instead of infrastructure and health services in McKinleyville?

    Do you really think the residents will accept more debt and taxes? Especially now that they know they got screwed on the last bond.

    Trinidad is already running out of money as they spend it faster then they can take it from the working class people in the area.

    Your agenda is clear.

    Thank you,

    Bob

  18. Bobby

    “oxymoronic incompatibility of the double accusation: loving taxes while being similar to Fox news.”

    Karol seems unable to comprehend that special interests will present matters in a bias that serves them.

    Must be nice to live with your head in the sand.

  19. Bobby,
    While I do appreciate your attempt to evaluate my comprehension abilities, it is difficult to take your concerns seriously when they are encased in personal insults. Since you don’t know me at all, your insults are meaningless except as reflections of your own character.

    Unfortunately, the fact that you level them at me here casts doubt on your evaluations of the local political climate as well.

    I’m not saying I disagree with your views about the taxes in question, only that you diminish your own credibility when you insult someone in ignorance.

    Here is how small-town weekly newspapers work: A tiny crew of people work like dogs for very little money to produce a community newspaper. It’s worth the effort because a local newspaper helps hold the threads of community together. Thus, it is a labor of love, in which we are encouraged by imagining kindly readers who may benefit in some way from our work.

    It seems too obvious to articulate, but apparently it must be said: McKinleyville Press does not decide how Trinidad will spend its money. The newspaper doesn’t wield political power. As journalists, our goal is to disseminate information, from the senior luncheon menu to the results of governmental meetings.

    Our editor works 7 days a week. He is the printing department, as well as the mailing, circulation, design and layout departments. But sometimes he finds time to write an editorial and take a stand on local matters, which is only right since he is a also a resident and a voter.

    Now, Bobby, if you will, please rephrase your insults into constructive suggestions for how we can improve the Press. For example, “I would like to see your reporters ask more pointed questions during interviews, particularly when it comes to matters of taxation.” I promise, that approach will get more favorable results than your insults.

    Further, if you want to get your opinions out in a wider way, please write a letter to the editor about excessive taxation, or misappropriation of tax funds, whichever is your primary beef, and we will gladly publish it. More Trinidad residents may share your views, and you can collectively work toward a solution.

  20. Bobby wrote: “So your paper does feel that money should be spent on the school bond instead of infrastructure and health services in McKinleyville?”

    Jack responds: The “paper” doesn’t feel anything. We don’t have an editorial board, nor do I poll the writers, columnists and various contributors about their views on these issues. It’s probably safe to say that people who write for the paper would disagree with me on a number of issues. I only speak for myself.

    You apparently missed my comment about voting against the school bond measure. I think the schools clearly need some upgrades, but I think there are other options that should be explored, which may or may not involve bonds.

    As for basic infrastructure in McKinleyville, I believe that the plans in place are adequate. Lots of upgrades have occurred and will continue to occur. Is there something specific you were thinking of?

    I’m all for improving health services, but that will have to take place on a much larger scale. That’s well beyond the scope of a local bond or special district.

    Bobby wrote: “Do you really think the residents will accept more debt and taxes?”

    Jack: Apparently the answer is yes, being that the voters approved the most recent bond. As I stated, I voted against it. I will also wager that voters locally, and throughout the state, approve all sorts of bonds tomorrow and put the State of California further in debt. I think this is a terribly reckless way to run things, but it’s also democracy in action.

    Bobby wrote: “Especially now that they know they got screwed on the last bond.”

    Jack responds: Which bond are you referring to?

    Bobby wrote: “Trinidad is already running out of money as they spend it faster then they can take it from the working class people in the area.”

    Jack responds: The voters in Trinidad rejected the last tax increase. They’ll have another chance to decide that for themselves. I don’t benefit directly in any way from their sales tax. In fact, I have to pay a small amount extra on the papers I sell there, which cuts into my profits. But, hey, it’s one percent. That means that if I sell $100 worth of papers, I have to pay an extra $1.

    Bobby wrote: “Your agenda is clear.”

    Jack responds: Then maybe you’d like to explain it to me. I’m not clear what my agenda is at all, beyond paying the bills, getting a newspaper out every week and having as much fun as I can.

    Bobby wrote: Thank you,

    Jack responds: You’re welcome.

  21. Tom

    Specific feedback, you ask?

    Most important: Get a different reporter for your Board of Supervisors coverage. The current one is difficult to read and clearly biased in favor of the Dems.

    Somewhat important: More Blue Lake coverage. That’s one troubled town and Gundersen’s departure doesn’t mean everything’s ok now.

    A bit important: Get a real website for your newspaper already!

  22. Casey

    Hi Tom,

    What do you want to see on the website?

    At the moment this is not a ‘paid position.’ It would be a lot more work to put the main stories from the paper on the website every week the way the big papers do it.

  23. Tom, thank you so much for your thoughtful comments and suggestions. That is exactly the type of feedback we hoped to receive.

    I am only a month on the job, so please take that into account in my response.

    We appreciate getting a reader’s viewpoint about the way government stories, like supe stories, are written. Once you attend enough of these governmental meetings, you forget that “board-speak” is not plain English; when you write up the report, it is easy to forget to translate events into plain English. As assistant editor, I take some responsibility for this too; it is my job to be our readers’ advocate, to ensure that articles are readily readable, clear and free from jargon. I will redouble my efforts in that respect, Tom.

    I also agree with you about Blue Lake coverage, a topic scheduled to be discussed at our next editorial meeting. We hope to find someone local to cover the Blue Lake “beat.” Did you have any specific suggestions about Blue Lake issues we should be looking into right now?

    As for the website, as Casey just noted, it too is a labor of love at the moment. For now, this blog is our most active web presence. This post asking for reader input was our first step towards revitalizing our web presence. We plan to post some stories here right after the weekly paper comes out, so that readers can discuss and debate local issues.

    Our improvements are coming, and will continue to come, incrementally, as resources allow. But communication with our readers is an important first step, so thank you again for your helpful feedback. If you think of other things, please let us know.

  24. Bobby

    Karol represents the Press well

    She claims I insult her after she claims my comments as

    “oxymoronic incompatibility of the double accusation: loving taxes while being similar to Fox news.”

    I said she has her head in the sand if she thinks special interests are not biased. She took that as an insult?

    With such intellectuals as Karol on board I can see why you miss so much of the bigger picture.

    Her writing will prove me right or wrong not her rhetoric.

  25. What Brought Me Here – “Uproar over Trinidad councilman’s blog”. Nothing here and it’s a week later?

    If the concern is you’ll cut into sales, offer the online stories later in the week or something.

    A Few More Ideas:
    Promote Your Blog in the Paper – I didn’t know you had even this meager one.

    Help build our local blogging community by posting more of your stories.

    Indicate that stories are posted here in the paper, to encourage people to log on and participate.

    Provide an Opinion “Page” off your Blog each week.

    Provide an Online Subscription or Membership, and/or offer it with a paid subscription to the paper.

    Thanks for all your hard work covering our community, Mike Morgan, Trinidad

  26. Those are good points, Jack – upload all stories at least the next week so you create an online archive and presence. WordPress lets you create pages so you should be able to have a main page, opinion page, society page etc, just like the paper without getting too cluttered. All without the expense of creating a website.

    Get a PayPal account for people to use to subscribe as well as pay for ads.

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