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Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2007 | In Re: Rachel Laing, today.

While Laing notes with disapproval a style of journalistic method that doesn’t sit well with her and her buddies, her points in media criticism are a straw man to obscure her own bias.

San Diego has been victimized for generations by the activities of that class of builders, politicians, media pundits and others who have continually remade the city to suit their desires, often by hoodwinking the public with soothing plans of public utility, only to turn those open areas into dense commercial spaces. This leaves a bad taste, as well as a lasting impression that one’s votes and views are merely a vacuous pantomime to be panned by, as Laing says, “the people of San Diego” — those few who count where development is concerned, all of whom may actually fit into the smoky rooms at Dobson’s.

Let’s be charitable and agree with Laing’s self-admission that she’s naive. Let’s go one further and admit that journalistic models aren’t so sexy either. But let’s be real when it comes to issues reflecting the ongoing development of San Diego; that process is a closed loop, run by those in power, unwilling to acknowledge — let alone consider seriously — the public’s input and demand for things in its interest, and championed by a mainstream media that knows what side its bread is buttered on. For Laing to carp about how these issues are reported to her distaste is to listen to the vexing whine of a debutante angry that the cake eating peasants don’t like her and her party-going friends, and upset that anyone would dare criticize the rhetoric of her fairy tale ball.

If Laing is angry at the villain-good guy method of reportage, I’d offer the NTC deal —where the public was assured that an arts colony, film school and modestly priced homes would be forthcoming — or the ballpark, where we were promised open space with a water view around a grand plaza instead of the condos that were actually built — as a couple of instances where We the People got shafted by developers and their media flacks who painted the pictures people voted for, and then blandly reported the changes into the reality we now know. The problem with media isn’t as Laing suggests; it is a lack of candor, forthrightness and willingness to editorially hold developers’ feet to the fire on keeping their “promises.”

Reporters are not the ones equipped to do those jobs. Editors and publishers, if they have the cojones for it, are. That San Diego’s media has fallen down so badly on the job for so many years indicates that its primary public whose interests it serves are more closely linked to developers than to the rest of us.

There are villains in many places, as well as those who merely disagree. Laing assumes that those who sucker the people aren’t a kind of villain and that media that might dare to report anything of the kind — or the concerns of those aligned against development interests — are. That kind of twisted worldview will get you a cup of coffee in real life —provided you have a buck and a half to go with it.

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