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!

10 Responses to “What Is a Source, Among Friends?”

  1. Linda C Says:

    Source and confirmation, these two words, have become synonymous with nebulous and implied instead of vetted, identified or corroborated. Confirmation has almost become obsolete and source seems to be any voice, over heard anywhere, that has something to say, regardless of facts or truth. The anonimity of, the they, has become credible and of substance. This is what is wrong with journalism and why, we have so, little of it going on today. Every story now is expedient, get it out there, whether it is just rumor, inuendo or faulty supposition. Any one with an ax to grind can say anything and be believed without consequence. Punditry has replaced journalism and integrity is hard to come by as the injured party is stuck with defending themselves against a false narrative. Supposition is just that and just because some one supposes something, it does not make it so. Sometimes all one is looking for is good government and quality of life for all our citizens.

  2. Publius Says:

    Lynne,
    I never worried about your hiatus. Left In Lowell is like a bad penny. It keeps turning up.

  3. Lynne Says:

    If you hate it so, why do you comment here?

    Linda - it also doesn’t hurt if said unsubstantiated “rumor” from “multiple sources” fits the narrative you need to push, if you are an agenda-driven newspaper…what a waste. A waste of resources that could be used to actually produce real news and dig into real issues and yes, even problems with the administration or city government (they do exist). The Sun isn’t pushing itself into near-death because the newspaper industry is in trouble…they’re losing in the marketplace of ideas. They have no future, because they’ve lost what would have been their future audience. They’re gripping, with fingernails, to the audience they do have - seniors, mostly - but there’s no future in that.

    A paper in a medium-sized media market like ours should be able to do well, if they have something to offer people that is worth buying.

  4. Publius Says:

    Lynne,
    There are many reasons why I read LIL:

    1. It is always good to know what the enemy is doing.
    2. It is fun to see how wrong headed your ideas are.
    3. I might change someone’s mind on one little thing. From that one little thing, a sea change could occur. I used to be a liberal, but when George McGovern promised a Guaranteeed Annual Income to everyone, no matter how slothful, I reexamined my beliefs. As a result of my introspection, I now consider Attila the Hun too liberal for me.
    4. I like the give and take in the marketplaceof ideas. If positions are well argued, every one leaves with more information and perspective.
    5. I did agree with you once and posted my agreement.

  5. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    Publius…enemy?

  6. Mannix Says:

    Since when is clear thought, the enemy.

  7. joe from Lowell Says:

    Good answer, Jack. Always best to assume it’s a set-up to get you to start trouble. lol

  8. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

    I am surprised there has been no discussion of MediaNews being sold/merged to/with 21st Century Media…wonder what this means for Campi and crew?

    New York, N.Y. (December 17, 2013) – Digital First Media today announced the merger of MediaNews Group and 21st Century Media.

    The merger, approved by the Boards of Directors of MediaNews Group Board and 21st Century Media, brings together the two newspaper companies jointly managed by Digital First Media.

    “This transaction will allow us even more opportunities to accelerate our transformative digital strategy and accelerate growth,” said John Paton, Chief Executive Officer of Digital First Media. “I am grateful to our leadership team and for the support of our directors who have worked diligently to make this possible, and to our employees who continue to work hard every day to serve the communities where we operate.”

    It is expected the merger will be completed within 30 days.

    About Digital First Media
    Digital First Media is headquartered in New York City and jointly manages MediaNews Group and 21st Century Media. Digital First Media reaches 67 million Americans each month through more than 800 multi-platform products across 18 states.

  9. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    Really? No One? No new posts in 13 days?

  10. Joe Says:

    The new council will get sworn in soon. This is the calm before the storm.

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