We’ve heard repeatedly that competition between Humboldt County’s two daily newspapers has been good for the community. The Eureka Reporter’s advent roused the Times-Standard, which had for decades celebrated its monopoly by loafing off, screwing up, and depriving the community of meaningful daily news.
The awakening was by all accounts a rude one. But after many months of whining and name-calling, the Times-Standard slowly, reluctantly did step up and even man up.
All that’s needed now is for the county’s oldest daily to finally grow up.
Citing an unnamed “press report,” a breathless Times-Standard missive appeared this morning refuting the assertion in today’s Eureka Reporter that Deirdre Peterson, the Fortuna teacher accused of having a sexual encounter with a student, had turned herself in.
In fact she had not–yet–and this was inarguably an error on the part of the Eureka Reporter. A mistake of this magnitude would typically warrant a brief correction–in the Eureka Reporter–not a snarky 300-word smack-down on the Times-Standard’s website.
So why did the Times-Standard go nuclear?
Was Peterson’s precise custodial status really all that important? If left at liberty, would she pose a threat to public safety? Evidently not. She turned herself in within minutes of the Times-Standard’s over-excited exposé, and was quickly processed and released on bond.
A more likely explanation is that Karen Wilkinson, the ER reporter who made the error, is a former employee of the Times-Standard, an organization she left on terms that could cordially be described as uncordial. Relations are said to have been particularly cool between Wilkinson and Kimberly Wear, who is now the TS’s managing editor.
Insiders on both sides today have speculated that it was likely this lingering grudge that caused Wilkinson to cut corners trying to scoop the TS on Peterson’s release–and also caused Wear to set aside her better judgment in favor of rubbing Wilkinson’s nose in the mistake.
In short, today’s news was not about either paper’s readers. It was instead another play in a game of insider baseball that has gone on for so many innings no one outside the two newsrooms even gives a shit anymore.
Still, we think the critics are at least partially right: Competition has made both newspapers better. But competition taken too far can also make both newspapers a complete waste of time.
Filed under: Humboldt County | Tagged: Deirdre Peterson, give us more news and less drama, grow up, Karen Wilkinson, loafing off and screwing up, newspaper war gets bitchy and lame, no one gives a shit anymore, snarky smack-down, Times-Standard, whining and name-calling | 18 Comments »