Milestones (OPINION)

By Miles H Barber, Publisher

 

Fake news is cheap and in abundant supply.

The internet has created a haven for the sensational, insensitive wild claims, half-truths, exaggerations, rumors, accusations and yellow journalism.

This year, being an election year, we expect there will be a proliferation of illicit rumors, attacks and gossip. Fake news will be directed at candidates, this newspaper, the Chamber of Commerce, the Convention Center and extend to anything and everything that can be twisted and distorted.

Over the past 10 years, more than 50 newspapers in California have gone out of business.

The cost of print and distribution has eroded the reporting of “fact news” in dozens of communities here and nationwide. Fortunately, there are exceptions.

Remaining are the stronger newspapers. Real newspapers that readers have come to rely on. We are happy to report that more than 60 daily newspapers continue to print in the Golden State. In addition, 43 community newspapers are still providing print and digital editions weekly.

These news publications, including the Weekly, are members of the California News Publishers Association (CNPA) with a common commitment; “Our publications, either print and/or digital, will report the news, factually and objectively.”

Printing factual news for a community newspaper like the Weekly, is a duty taken seriously. This commitment is to our readers, our City and our community. The Santa Clara Weekly, like all community newspapers, has a responsibility to find and report factual news.

There was a time that obtaining facts about our City government was much easier. Public records requests were honored without stonewalling, redactions and edits.

The current City Council has touted their quest for transparency yet have made it increasingly difficult to obtain documents. Our request last November for all of Council Member Debi Davis’ emails since taking office is an example; we received a disk with 1,600 emails directed to Ms. Davis and not one from her to another party. Can you believe that Davis has never sent an email?

Transparency appears to be only a buzz word without intention or fulfillment.

Our requests for information has caused City calendars to become even less detailed. Note that according to the Mayor’s calendar published last year, she had never met with Peter Hillan.

When the Weekly broke the story of Mayor Gillmor using Banner Public Affairs for political consulting and coaching for herself, she did this without a signed contract or consulting agreement. She also had no record of meeting with Peter Hillan, Banner’s principal. Yet Mr. Hillan had recorded on his calendar and invoices to the City, many meetings with the Mayor. Hillan also billed the City for several conversations with “Fake News” blogger, Robert Haugh.

Why are these issues important? What other medium would provide accurate accounting of our City Council and City officers’ actions other than your local newspaper? Certainly not a blogger.

The public has a mandated legal right to know. Our community is entitled to the facts. As the official newspaper of Santa Clara, we work hard to bring you those facts. If we are restrained from obtaining City Hall information, what are the chances of you and other residents learning how their tax dollars are really being spent? Who then would keep public officials accountable?

When you join us as a subscribing member of the Weekly, you support credible reporting.

Freedom of the press and factual reporting does not arrive or survive without a price.