The North Coast Journal gets it right


Over the past week, numerous Humboldt Mirror readers have remarked on a North Coast Journal article in which reporter Bob Doran, covering a Tea Party meeting in Fortuna, quoted a woman he called Amy Wahlberg, who was reportedly booed and jeered for suggesting that health care is a right and not a privilege.

Discussion centered around the startling fact that many of us know Amy not as Wahlberg but Doran–Bob’s wife. That the quote in question appeared to reflect a bias manifested elsewhere in the story compounded the problem, and Bob’s clumsy attempt to conceal his wife’s identity obviously made things worse.

The good news? Publisher Judy Hodgson isn’t having any of it. From the current edition of the Journal comes this extraordinary–and appropriate–statement:

To Our Readers, an Apology

Two weeks ago a veteran member of our editorial staff made an error in judgment. He had offered to cover a controversial meeting in Fortuna–to take photos and report on the gathering he and his wife planned to attend anyway. It turned out his wife spoke at the meeting, the crowd reacted strongly and negatively, and he reported accurately on the exchange he considered pivotal to the coverage. Only he used her maiden name, one that she uses in her work as an artist and elsewhere.

Nevertheless, the intent was clear: to conceal or obscure her identity and to mislead readers. It was an ethical lapse we consider serious and we sincerely apologize.

The story, “Tea in Fortuna: Frightened patriots attempt to make sense of health care reform” by Bob Doran, is available on our Web site with an amended footnote. Doran has been the Journal’s arts and entertainment editor, covering all things cultural, since 1998.

Judy Hodgson

86 Responses

  1. Agreed. Not just appropriate but encouraging to see a publisher stand up, own a problem and then fix it. It’ll be interesting to see if Bob learned anything from this other than to make sure he doesn’t get caught next time.

  2. Cut the Bob Dawg some slack. As Big Bird says, everyone makes mistakes.

  3. Manifested his biases is damn right. The Wahlberg ploy just summarized everything he thought was wrong with the Tea Party people. I’m not one of them and I don’t live in Fortuna, but it’s disingenuous to go to a Tea Party meeting in Fortuna and deride the attendees for having conservative tendencies. That’s like making fun of grass for being green.

  4. Indeed. Kudos to Judy. But on the other hand, it’s of interest to note that in the Journal’s recent “Best of Humboldt” edition, their published “saff picks” declared the Best Kid-Friendly Snow Spot to be Kneeland School. One problem though: Kneeland School is private property. I think the police will run you off if you and your kids are playing there. But Hank Sims thoughtfully even printed the school’s address for your convenience.

  5. Yes thank you Ms. Hodgson. But Bob, I was there. All of the booing and jeering supposedly inflicted on your perfectly reasonable wife falls somewhere between an exaggeration and an out and out lie.

    This town is awfully small for you to think you can get away with shit like this.

  6. Bob Doran is an award-winning journalist. He loses no favor in my mind. “Numerous Humboldt Mirror readers” is a fallacy. Most of the comments seemed to be generated by the same 5 people, and I’m not convinced that you’re not self-trolling your own blog.

  7. Did anyone at the Journal know the woman quoted was Bob’s wife? Did Hank know beforehand? Did Judy know beforehand?

    Apologizing when you’re caught with your hand in the cookie jar is not a noble act. I’d like to see a full disclosure of who knew what when.

  8. Fuck us running if you don’t see straight through our ploy for world domination. Bwah hah ha ha ha.

    Go blow yourself, loser.

  9. Bob’s been the talk of the town since the story came out, Hippy. No one cares what you think about that. And “fallacy”? I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

    As for Bob being an award winning journalist, I have an award winning cocker spaniel and an award winning eight year old. Either one could write as well as Bob. Both are more honest.

  10. Good questions Anonymous.

    I think Hippy up there is self-trolling his own prick.

  11. Bugs,

    Oh how I hope and pray you are hot and female. I think I am in love and don’t want to end up with some kind of weird complex.

  12. Hippy’s right. Hippy’s always right. His view of the world is the correct view of the world, and if anyone appears to see things differently they’re wrong, lying or nonexistent.

    It must be wonderful to be a prog. Why is that they all seem so miserable?

  13. Anonymous, how we do hate to disappoint. Definitely not female, and probably not hot although we were a hit with the lady friends back in the day.

    But look. We can like each other without getting all bromantically involved, can’t we?

  14. I’m not persuaded Bob “reported accurately” about anything and after the shit he just pulled I’m unlikely to take his word for it. That article was slanted against all those whack job conservatives “frightened” of dropping billions of dollars we don’t have on a massive new program that hasn’t been thought through all that well.

    As for “hippy,” what do you expect from someone who doesn’t know how to spell his own screen name?

  15. Let’s see just how independent the ‘Media Maven’ is. Will she applaud the Journal, ignore the issue, or ask the tough questions that need to be asked?

  16. Doran needs to be fired. He knew what he was doing. He knew it was wrong. He knew his story was a lie( as are most of his non musical pieces). No one can tell me that the editor or the publisher didn’t know the Amy in the spin piece was his wife. Good first step with this apology. Now Doran either quits or gets fired. Isn’t this the publication that called foul on Richard Salzman for the same damn thing?

  17. I am pleased Hodgson didn’t call Bob’s blunder a “mistake.” It’s infuriating when people try to pass off moral failings as accidental. An “ethical lapse we consider serious” is a fair description.

    No one mistakenly creates a subterfuge to conceal a dishonest act the way Bob did. It is difficult to count how many things he did wrong, but not one of them was a mistake. However, keeping Bob on at the Journal might prove to be.

  18. Me thinks Hippy got blog-lost.

  19. Yes, Hippy they probably wrote that elaborate apology because no one noticed or talked about Bob’s dishonesty.

  20. This whole Doran-gate thing is boring and lame. Everybody knows the Journal is “alternative,” skewed, and is featuring obviously left-slanted stories that have been the way of life since way before Hank. We like Hank–he’s sassy and savvy. We love Heidi–she hot and really knows how to put words together in a fucking readable way. Hell, up until recently, we even liked Bob for his uncanny ability to stay abreast of the music scene. But for fucks sake, why let him cover politics? I haven’t seen such a travesty of journalism since Wendy Butler covered hard-news issues at the ER.

  21. You lost all credibility when you called Heidi hot.

  22. That was news to me too. Cool maybe. Hot, probably not, but I don’t think that’s what she’s aiming for anyway.

    She’s funny as hell and an excellent writer and those are more important.

  23. I like the way Wendy covered The Arts for the Eureka Reporter.

  24. I’m impressed that the publisher took the time to apologize. That doesn’t always happen these days.
    The fact that Hodgson took action is commendable.

    Bob made a mistake. He’s human. He’s also a very good writer. Let’s move on.

    End of incident.

  25. Yawn…

  26. If only the world worked that way, Dave. Things aren’t over just because you want them to be.

    Two points about your comment. 1. As noted previously, “mistake” is not the correct term. What Bob did involved multiple levels of intentionality. And 2. Bob is definitively not a “very good writer.” He’s occasionally interesting but typically seems to phone it in. Ironically, his Fortuna Tea Party story was one of the best things I’ve read from him in years.

  27. Liberals are bad

    Conservatives are good

    We got it already guys. Give it a rest-

  28. Too bad it was bunk.

  29. If that’s what you think this issue is about or this blog is about, you got nothing but a serious case of partisan projection.

  30. Let’s see here, virtuous, fair-minded Anon. Your comments to date have covered the following points: the ugliness of Johanna Rodoni, the evils of WalMart, the evils of Home Depot, the evils of all national stores, the villainy of Security National, the alcoholism of Security National employees, the dark menace of Rob Arkley, the stupidity of Randy Gans, the duplicity of Dave Tyson and the vast destruction that would be visited on our fair city were the Marina Center project to go through. Before that you commented on Jill Duffy’s “slutty ways,” Jill Duffy’s stupidity, the ugliness of Nancy Flemming’s “man-do” and the general uselessness of Chris Crawford.

    You’re talking to us about partisanship? Really?

  31. Oh someone just got SPANKED and not in a good way.

  32. Ouch

  33. Snap!

  34. I’m an asshole

    You’re a Renaissance man

    got it-

  35. “Miserable”???
    I think you are confused.
    The only miserable folks I see around here are those
    who think Fox ‘News’ is actually based on reality.

    What IS the opposite of ‘progressive’?

  36. Your words.

  37. You’re right. Hippy seems all kinds of happy. And who other than you is talking about Fox news? I certainly don’t believe that shit.

  38. Journalist my ass. The dude writes shitty reviews on music. Quit insulting journalists you heathen.

  39. what is the opposite of progressive you ask?

    Answer: Sanity

  40. Lesson: Don’t fuck with the Bugs. . .

  41. mistake? Bullshit that was intentional and even Judy called as such.

    Good job Judy. While I have disagreed with you on some issues in the past, I have always respected you.

  42. Bug slapped!

  43. I was there. Speakers from both sides were treated with respect. There were a few boos for Ms. Doran’s quoting Ted Kennedy were in memory of Mary Jo Kopechne.

  44. Interesting that the NCJ Blogwatch box from last night that showed this blog posting at the top of it has gone missing and in its place is another one, run an hour and a half later, with a different post at the top. Some kind of fluke probably.

  45. Sane?

  46. Leave my ass outta this

  47. I thought the NCJ explained a couple of months ago that they were going to start using their in-house hacks instead of freelance journalists for big stories.

    At least they do an okay job. It hasn’t gone to the tabloid level of the National Enquirer or Arcata Eye yet.

  48. Here’s an idea: the Journal fires Bob or he quits, then hires one of the many unemployed journalists still hanging around, who know better than to quote their significant other and try to hide it. And as far as what he did…wow, it’s a fireable offense in the newspaper world and readers would benefit from his absence. Maybe some fresh blood would give the Journal different, more accurate content and help bring back some credibility. Just an idea.

  49. That meeting is turning into the best-attended event in the history of Humboldt County.

  50. Grammatically challenged?

  51. Bob made a mistake in judgement. Hasn’t that ever happened to you in your life?
    I know I’ve certainly had lapses in judgement.

    To say Bob is a bad writer is subjective. Some people think he’s a good writer.
    It’s your right however, to say he’s a bad writer.

    “I guess that’s all I got to say about that.”

    (My apologies to Forest Gump – my favorite movie character of all time.)

  52. you say: “Bob Doran is an award-winning journalist”

    ok, what piece of journalism did he win an award for. And for christ-sakes please don’t give us one of those stupid music crappy things he comes up with. I am talking real journalism Hippy dude.

    Come on….cat got your tongue?

  53. Yeah Tim, like you have your finger on the pulse of reality.

    Why not flat pick a really lousy tune about camping or something. Of course such an openminded toad like you would naturally assume anyone who had a difference of opinion with you or Doran would 1) be miserable or 2) be a Fox news watcher.

    Pray tell, how is msnbc these days. Are folks still getting tingly feelings up and down their legs?

    Timmy boy, you are truly a dufus. Stick to bad music and bad music reviews.

  54. My bad. Sane would be the correct term.

  55. Ignore us, Spiderman. It was just another opportunity for a smart remark.

  56. Come on buddy, get with the program, this is where we call Bonnie Neely an ugly bitch.

    Jeesh, the nerve of some folks!

  57. Between our year’s worth of posts and your comment today, only once has Ms. Neely been referred to that way. See above.

  58. I see that you don’t include all the other comments. How convenient!

  59. Many years ago when I decided I supported a woman’s right to choose, it was because the violent white fundamentalist assholes trying to deny this right sounded almost exactly like you do now.

    I know you guys think you’re leftists, but you are absolutely not. You’re fascists, and whether you get there from the left or the right really doesn’t change a thing.

  60. Oh good god you are so pathetically dumb.

  61. Nice

  62. dog–Who’s Katie?

  63. Couric

  64. Ah. Of course.

  65. Or any other of those reporters who will throw their ethics under the bus along with their colleagues.

    Been there Bugs and that’s why I got the hell out of it. Major markets are a bitch and a high pressure, butt first dive down that steep, sharp cheese grater of credibility. Y’know, once you stop rising, the descent is riddled with the sharp bones of those poor souls who never made it to the top anyway. But, they still sting in the passing.

    Doran is a decent guy who, at worst, took a cheap shortcut. If that’s a felony, then what the hell do we do with Hannity or Olberman? Or me or you or the Heraldas ‘of the world.

    It’s only a matter of intent, competence, integrity and market size.

    All the rest is just some fools’ words on a page….unless your Graphics Dept is among the initiated as it pertains to the finer points of palm trees.

  66. Agreed on most points, dog. But we do not pretend to be journalists. Different standards–or, in our case, a complete lack thereof. The Doran things was definitely not the crime of the century, but it was clearly contrary to the code governing his profession. And word around town is that he feels badly treated by Hodgson, which suggests to us that he didn’t learn a fucking thing.

    As for Hannity and Olberman, idiots both. And the Graphics Department is lazier than ever, the occasional palm tree not withstanding.

  67. post removed by blog administrator

  68. Richard, we initially intended to remove only the libelous remarks from your post, but after several attempts to get them all began to wonder why the fuck we would expend the effort. If you want to get someone sued, write your dumb shit on your own blog, and then the only person who needs to worry about it is you. Call a respected physician a racist or fraud on this blog again and you’ll be permanently blocked.

  69. It is so comforting to see Salzman’s pattern of fair and forthright communications continuing. What an asset he is to the candidates and causes he supports. But bug, why would he post this drivel on his blog? Only five people have visited it in the past year, and he’s four of them.

  70. Awesome!!

  71. Well, I still love you Bugs…when is the next piece on our most-esteemed District Asshole coming out? Speaking of Salzman-supported shit. Nothing gets my blood up faster than more idiocy displayed by biggest bong-head in the county

  72. Yo Bugs, What about the esteemed dope dealer Ken Miller? He is certainly a fraud when he represents himself as a real doctor or maybe we are suposed to believe that pot brownies do actually cure cancer. I don’t know if he is racist unless you count his hatred for rural people….

    Oops, sorry I just realized your restriction only applied to respected docs and the Kenster is anything but that.

  73. We have the lowest bar set for our profession and you still talk shit? Fucking fuckatards.

  74. What makes the humbugs think that doggerelface is Richard?

  75. “Fuckatards”? Is that some relation to leotards?

  76. [Dick’s racist remarks about “brown people” removed. Again.]

  77. Yeah, hey cockwash? We’re gonna go with racist on that one too. Nice knowing you.

  78. We’re psychic.

  79. Carol, are you conscious? Read the stupidity posted on his blog, and then read the infamous R. Trent letters. The lesson there is that if you find someone telling you Richard Salzman is a misunderstood genius, 100% of the time that person is Richard Salzman.

  80. Couldn’t have said it any better Humbug!

  81. Nothing is ever nice about Salzman. Nasty, small minded and just plain evil.

    Bye bye Dickie – go back to nowhere.

  82. can’t get a rise out of anyone on NCJ blog about Dorans lapse. Must be hunker down time.

  83. In this week’s North Coast Journal, Bob Doran described the B-52’s as being from New York. What the hell? Aren’t the B-52’s from Atlanta?

  84. That fucker’s telling one fucking lie after another, isn’t he?


  85. I didn’t see any apology from Doran. Did you?

  86. Progressive.

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