I attended Leland Yee’s September 26 City Hall press conference because I heard that he was raising questions about the relationship between Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC), the Central Subway, and the mayor’s office. Beyond Chron has published a number of articles challenging media and political attacks on CCDC’s role, and to make sure I got Yee’s allegations correct I asked Jim Stearns, his campaign manager, for a press release. He refused to give me a copy. He said he no longer considered Beyond Chron to be a member of the press.
Until September 26, I regularly got press releases from the Leland Yee for Mayor campaign. But I got no release for the event that date, and learned why when Stearns told me that he no longer considered Beyond Chron to be a member of the press.
I did not ask why, but it likely relates to articles others and I have written defending CCDC and its Director, Gordon Chin, from unfair attacks. None of our stories singled out Yee (the main target was the SF Chronicle) but Stearns apparently feels that attacks on CCDC and Chin are “journalism” but responses are something else.
Like the Chronicle, Bay Guardian, Bay Citizen and other news sources that have recently addressed CCDC and the Central Subway, Beyond Chron has a point of view. Unlike most of the stories written about these issues, our pieces have not been challenged on the facts.
After my colleague Paul Hogarth wrote a piece
revealing many factual inaccuracies in a Bay Citizen story on CCDC, its then editor – Jonathan Weber – sent us feedback describing the article as “a very poor excuse for journalism.” When I asked him to name a single fact we got wrong, he replied that Hogarth was wrong when he said that Chin could not ban his employees from engaging in political activities in their non-work hours.
In response, I sent Weber an e-mail suggesting he read Section 96(k) of the California Labor Code as well as Article 1, Section 1 of the state Constitution. Both prohibit Chin or most other employers from limiting their employees’ off-time political involvements.
He did not respond. We stand by that story as well as our stories exposing faulty reporting regarding CCDC.
It is our policy that when we are alerted to a factual error we correct it. It seems that what bothers Stearns is not the lack of accuracy in our stories, but that they do not express his preferred viewpoint.
The media event whose press release I was denied had about ten people standing behind Yee holding signs attacking waste in the Central Subway project. The highlight was Yee holding up a golden chair, which was apparently symbolizing something about the Central Freeway project that he claimed to strongly support.
By the way, Beyond Chron received an official press pass to the 2008 Democratic Convention, which requires a lengthy authentication process that separates news organizations from writers deemed bloggers. We also routinely receive press credentials to other major events with extensive application requirements, including the AFL-CIO national convention in 2009.
Randy Shaw is Editor of Beyond Chron.