I am really disappointed about the way Will Carless is writing about affordable housing issues. I think it is great he is writing about them, but the style of reporting is bordering on yellow journalism by using adjectives that incite rather than describe. For example, from Sept. 14’s article:

Often cost wildly more than private, market-rate developments.

Why use “wildly,” when “significantly” means the same but is not value laden and inciting?

California has also evolved into a delivery mechanism for social goals that have little to do with that central mission.

We had a phase in American history when the “central mission” was limited to building basic shelter for poor people, better known as public housing projects. That approach didn’t work out too well and has resulted in the NIMBY issues we face today with siting affordable homes. The “central mission” today is to provide homes that fit into the neighborhood where they are built; are distributed geographically so we don’t concentrate poverty; and, are managed so that they remain safe and well maintained.

If VOSD believes that we should return to warehousing the working poor on the cheapest land possible, then say so up front that these are the values of the voiceofsandiego.org and is what you are benchmarking your reporting against.

The result is that far fewer affordable apartments get built than could be.

Using the word “far” is true using the benchmark noted above. However, removing the adjective “far” makes it a factual statement, because you have no real benchmark, only supposition.

VOSD is supposed to report the facts and let us make the decision about how to act on them. How about editing all your stories to just do that and avoid the temptation to take us back to the days of Pulitzer and Hearst. (I just realized how ironic it is that the sponsor of journalism’s most prestigious awards is named for one of the fathers of yellow journalism. Sort of like the Nobel Peace Prize named after an arms maker.)

Tom Scott lives in Poway. He is the former executive director of the San Diego Housing Federation, a coalition of affordable housing advocates and developers.

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