Today the Oregonian printed a story by its top political reporter, a great reporter, Harry Esteve, that missed a splendid opportunity to celebrate a new political party in Oregon, the Independent Party. Instead the story, obviously heavily edited, looks like it was submitted by PR firms representing the Democrats and Republicans. In addition, the print version of the Oregonian did not disclose the party’s website.
The story featured a “die-hard independent,” Kurt Lootens, yet does not indicate his profession or anything else about him, even though his opinion is prominently featured in the first sentence. This is the height of shabby journalism. It is not until the 7th paragraph that Esteve introduces the founder of the party, Linda Williams, and its rationale. It’s theme, “not left, not right, just common sense,” prominently displayed on its website, was not mentioned in the article.
Also unfortunate is that the article does not have photos of Williams, Lootens or the keynote candidate, John Fronmayer. This is a pervasive weakness at the Oregonian with many of its top stories, that is , a lack of photos. I met Linda Williams some time ago and she is very credible in both substance and appearance.
More prominently highlighting the absolute level of political corruption orchestrated by the Democrats and Republicans that virtually prohibits independent 3rd party candidates from running, and sanitized by Bill Bradbury’s office, would also seem fair. Readers are tired of this nonsense and want to celebrate new opportunities for the democratic process.
The first few paragraphs of the story follow:
The Oregonian, Harry Esteve, Friday. September 21, 2007
Kurt Lootens, Southeast Portland resident and die-hard voter, cherishes his political autonomy. He tried being a Republican, he tried being a Democrat, but never felt comfortable until he, like 435,000 other Oregonians, chose to go without a party label when they registered to vote. I’m an independent,” he says proudly. At least he thought he was.
Then he read about John Frohnmayer’s announcement that he was planning to run for U.S. Senate as a member of the Independent Party — with a capital I. “Huh?” Lootens thought. “How can you co-opt that name and name a party after it?” he says. “I don’t think of a party as being independent. It irritates me.”