Loren Wise
via Internet

Suspicious Minds
This is in response to "Overdressed," by Barry Graham (May 21).
Imagine that several New Times offices had been bombed. Imagine a constant stream of more bomb threats. The bombers, though seen, were not apprehended. And then a man fitting that description is found in your building with a suitcase. Wouldn't you call the police regardless of his skin color? Or would you tell everyone to ignore him because somebody might think we are picking on black people?

Four Valley jewelry stores were held up recently at gunpoint. Lives were threatened and hundreds of thousands of dollars in goods stolen. One gang is implicated in at least 11 of these crimes in two states. Should this be ignored simply so feelings are not hurt?

A month ago another jeweler was murdered by a robber in Fresno. The two criminals were Asian. Would you blame Fresno stores for being suspicious of Asians now? If the black man in Scottsdale had been white, would you have written about it?

Roger Ellington
via Internet

Author, Author
Bang-up job by Amy Silverman on former Scottsdale Community College professor Jim Martin ("Junior College Confidential," May 7).

Silverman's piece on the retired journalism instructor and his recently self-published expose of goings-on within the Maricopa Community College District did--as Silverman promised--reveal a failure "with regard to the most basic of journalistic tasks." The most obvious deficiencies, however, are Silverman's.

She's quick to sneer at Martin's inaccuracies concerning dates, names and places. Apparently the errors she managed to pick out in her "quick perusal" of Policies of Deceit freed her from the necessity of doing her job as a reporter.

"It would take months to thoroughly research each of the claims made in the 320-page book," Silverman wrote. Since she didn't have that kind of time, Silverman did the next best thing. She scribbled a piece of tripe so slanted it wouldn't have merited a passing grade in one of Martin's--or any other journalism professor's--undergrad reporting classes.

Silverman built her "story" around quotes from several characters who claim they were unjustly maligned by their inclusion in Martin's book. She created a secondhand character assassination.

Hard-hitting newshound Silverman knows that time is of the essence, so she wastes none of it checking out any of Martin's claims. Instead, she accepts as gospel the word of the supposed injured parties. She made MCCD Chancellor Paul Elsner sound like a saint for recognizing Martin's right to make whatever claims he wants. Of course, she didn't bother to do any research of her own, but she did stress Elsner's assurance that everything Martin said was untrue.

Silverman included comments from SCC President Art DeCabooter, who rubbished not only the book, but Martin's work at the college as well. DeCabooter said the book reminded him of the "old campus newspaper," to which Martin was adviser, "bordering on the false and ludicrous."

Never mind that The Campus News, before DeCabooter and SCC pulled the plug on it, was a consistent award-winner and launched numerous topnotch journalists to the forefront of the Valley media, including New Times.

It was a catchy quote, so why bother questioning its accuracy?
Never mind that anyone who's spent five minutes on the SCC campus knew that the internal politics played out by DeCabooter and Co. are simply mind-boggling.

Why waste time checking to see if any of Martin's claims are legitimate, when you can contact a handful of people to malign the man? Of course it would be just as easy to look up other sources who might support or even substantiate Martin's claims, but that would be too much like work. Much easier to run some good, juicy vitriol.

Silverman even included without question condemnation by Rick DeGraw, Elsner's "administrative assistant" and Arizona political dogsbody with a far from savory record.

She didn't let Martin defend himself in print, either. She doesn't even contest any of his claims, preferring secondhanded slander to anything approaching factual analysis.

The only thing unclear about Silverman's article is whether the abysmally poor coverage is a result of bias or good old-fashioned incompetence. Either way, it's piss-poor reporting.

Ben Leatherman

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