Left In Lowell

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December 8, 2013

What Is a Source, Among Friends?

by at 2:08 pm.

The ol’ paper blog - it ain’t what it used to be. (Or maybe, it’s more of what it used to be? When was the last time the Sun’s editor and cub reporter had any integrity, anyway? Five years? More?)

In the so-called Lowell Sun Column today, was this little tidbit. “Several sources have told The Column the LHA leadership has discussed proposing to Lynch that he appoint local blogger Jack Mitchell…”

Dick already brought this up, and I’ll link to him, if you want the link to the “Column,” he has it. Dick also posts this email exchange Jack and Lyle had, which Jack posted on Facebook.

LYLE: Hi Jack, I hope all is well. Have you applied for appointment to the Lowell Housing Authority board? Have any LHA employees reached out to you to encourage you to apply for a position on the LHA board? Thanks for your time.

JACK: Lyle, I’ll answer, if you tell me if you are applying to be the next Mayor’s Aide.

LYLE: Ha, that’s an easy question. No, I am not. I look forward to your answers.

JACK: No & No. I’ve discussed the topic of the LHA and the positions on the Commission with several Lowellians over the course of many months, intermittently. But, not directly about a pending position opening or recently. Give my best to Rodney, next time you guys have lunch. Thank you in advance.

The Column has long been a place where regular rules for truthful reporting have been suspended. The sort of sloppy work that would you kicked the hell out of journalism school are practiced regularly, there. In a real legitimate article, one’s “several sources” have to be corroborated. The sources themselves have to be credible, to begin with. A random or unexamined “They” from “That’s what they say!” is not acceptable. But in the Column, it’s all you need. Especially if it can be used to attack people you hate with a source of heat so strong you could power the whole of US for 20 years. Now, who were their sources? Obviously I don’t know for sure. But since the Sun plays this game, so can I, but with more to back myself up.

First, I wonder about their “several.” You remember how Dick Cheney’s office leaked information about WMD, then later on a Sunday news program, quoted that article to gain legitimacy for his war? “Several sources” for a rumor, like as not, come from a single source. A real reporter tries to ferret out if this is the case. If three people tell you something, but those three people got their information from one single person, that is not several sources - it’s one source. As a reporter, one should be tracing down the rumor mill to its source, and then talk to that source and assess the legitimacy from there.

Secondarily, the quality of the source matters. Obviously Lynch and his people don’t spread rumors like this, and in fact Lynch stated what inquiries he’d gotten for the position outright. Jack flat out said, no, this isn’t the case. Unless you have proof of them lying…well. And the Column itself says the LHA director declined to say anything on the matter. So, who is the source? Some disgruntled someone in City Hall who saw Jack there, maybe paying a bill or whatever, and assumed he must have met with Lynch, and that meeting had to have been about the LHA? Maybe even something more tenuous than that? Maybe made up from nothing? Who can say. But I can tell you this - it’s not someone in the position to know. It can’t really be anyone who isn’t using a whole lot of assumption and conjecture, or who isn’t flat out lying. The job of a real reporter is to find that out first, before writing something that borders on libel. (They skirt this by the metaphorical use of “that’s what they say, anyway!” but it’s window dressing, to say it nicely. Or what do they call that skim coat on a tank of sewage? Yeah, that.)

I break all this down not to defend Jack - he can do that himself, and honestly, this is such a shoddy attack that it’s hardly worth the paper it’s printed on. I do this to point out the larger problems with this kind of “journalism” which isn’t journalism. We’ve all known for a long time how compromised, journalistically, the Lowell Sun actually is. And how shoddy the reporting even in legitimate news articles - which the Column isn’t. The Sun is slouching to irrelevance, and they know it, and they figure to bolster the gravy train for their buds on their way down. And Campy does seem to love to pretend he’s playing in the big leagues.

Ahead of the rumored demise of its print edition (I read the rumor on Facebook! It’s sourced! See what I did there?), the Lowell Sun is desperately trying to stay in the game - not the news game, no, that’s hard work. But the political game, where they relentlessly and factlessly attack the City Manager. They smell blood in the water with this latest election, you see. They also can count the votes (they were the ones to publish them after all) and see that the CM might actually survive this Council with a new contract, so muddying the water now is their only hope. Turn some of the “lean yes” Councilors to consider “no” on a new contract. The Blog of Record has long since lost its main “raison d’etre”…reporting the news…not creating it.


On another note, we wanted to thank a longtime best friend of the blog, Michael Hayden, for his concern on our short absence. This was sent to me by a third party:

Wow could we be so lucky as to have the Queen of Mean and her liberal blog gone a way or is this just a tactic to get her buddy Liberal know it all Jack Mitchell a board position ( LHA ) what ever the reason I for one am very glad they are gone All they ever did was spread super liberal ideas and call everyone who did not agree with them stupid See ya

Who knew that such loving and concerned citizens of our fair city would be so upset at our short hiatus? I mean, I can’t even have a very busy holiday (both preparing for and recuperating from), alongside a vicious and ongoing stiff neck which makes prolonged typing quite unpleasant, coupled with a few slow news weeks, without such notable expressions of dismay? Not to mention other projects I’ve been working on? It warms the cockles of my heart, this holiday season, to know we have such dear friends looking out for us.

Cheers, folks, we’re not going anywhere. Notwithstanding the aneurism that might give Mr. Hayden.

PS: that other project I mentioned? I really ought to post more of the YouTube segments here, but I forget. Here’s our recent segment from the LTC show “Threads” where we went to the Brush Art Gallery - unfortunately, you need to put up with me as interviewer, normally I am behind the camera, which I much prefer!

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