Posts Tagged ‘Critical Badger’

Lets actually ‘get the facts straight’ Critical Badger

January 29, 2010

I really hate to do this. But, at some point being publicly attacked, having your factual integrity questioned, and having a solid and personally important editorial responded to with an overtly condescending “/dur” from a campus fixture necessitates some kind of response.

To recap, Danny S. (aka the Critical Badger) really didn’t like my most recent column in the BH on campus safety, or the column I wrote a year ago that it was a follow up to. It looks like he even hated the first one so much that he failed to read the second one, which, I will admit, was a more complete and responsible column.

Danny sent an email to Jack, Jason Smathers at the Herald, Ald. Bryon Eagon and me titled “Getting facts straight,” where he implied that the facts in my most recent column weren’t correct. You can see his full explanation of this claim on his post at U&S.

This appears to be what he has an issue with in my column:

“In the column, I cited crime statistics from a then recently released Campus Safety Guide to show the miniscule risk violent crime posed to students on campus, in a general attempt to push back against the irrational emphasis being placed on crime in the campaign.

To which he opined at U&S:

Yes, crime literally on the grounds of UW-Madison is generally not a problem. That’s because they happen OFF CAMPUS. Data not included in this report.

Of course, he shouldn’t be so dismissive of the crime dealt with by campus police around campus, because anyone who lives in a dorm falls completely under that category, and it affects a great deal of additional students as well. Pick up a campus map and take a look, there are campus buildings on more than just Bascom Hill.

The shortsightedness of his criticism doesn’t stop there. In a response email I was forced to point out the obvious to him:

You will also notice that I bring in city crime statistics as well. Admittedly, I do not have exact numbers for the few specific streets or the very limited areas where campus and city are blurred. A consolidation of those numbers does not exist that I can find, and I have spent time looking for them, including asking Eagon if he has any.

At any rate, it is somewhat irrelevant. The point of the column wasn’t to calculate the exact risk of crime every student is subject to while living in Madison. It was to use some relevant data to show that safety issues might not be as big of a deal as the candidates were making it out to be. Citing a combination of campus crime stats as well as city stats (considering city stats include parts of the city much less wealthy and safe than the city around campus) seems sufficient to do the trick, while in no way being disingenuous.

Nothing factually inaccurate. No misrepresentation. Not disingenuous. Just an argument you fail to agree with or pick up on.

The same old sources…

January 15, 2010

Over at University and State, which I didn’t realize was covering local issues anymore, the Critical Badger brought up an important point about sources used in city reporting, or lack thereof. To prove his point he uses three articles by Isthmus writer Joe Tarr, who on three different occasions uses Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway as the “opposing viewpoint” on whatever issue is being discussed.

This is a problem that every local reporter (and independent blogger) faces: resisting the go-to source for a certain opinion, party or expertise. Just about any state article in the Badger Herald is sure to have a quote from Rep. Steve Nass, and many city articles have quotes from Mike Verveer. It’s usually much easier to spot in local reporting, but the problem exists at the highest echelons of the media: remember Judith Warner? We don’t even need to include cable news in the discussion.

The limited sources are just one symptom of an increasingly marginalized local media, however. As the media loses money, it cuts staff and loses its coverage capability. Reporters are over-extended and they can’t keep in touch with as many contacts as they should have access to. Instead of having several reporters working the halls of the Capitol, the State Journal may have one over-worked writer make a few desperate calls to somebody they know will answer.

I try to get in touch with as many sources as possible but it’s tough, especially when there are officials who simply aren’t interested in talking. As a result, there are certain readily accessible sources who I will naturally favor if I want to find something out. I would bet that local reporters like Joe Tarr face the same dilemma.

Brunch Links

July 14, 2009

We’ll be touching on a few national and international issues today chez le Sconz. I do feel relatively guilty linking to the Washington Post considering that the rag allowed an op-ed today by Sarah Palin that wasn’t even about little league hockey. Illusory Tenant discusses.

WaPo: Sen. Herb Kohl questions Sotomayor: “I would like to suggest that this constant criticism of you in terms of your inability to be an impartial judge is totally refuted by the record that you’ve compiled as a federal judge up to this point.”

Bucknaked Politics: Kim Jong-il has pancreatic cancer, reports South Korean intelligence.

Forward Our Motto: Two Dane County cities make Money Magazine’s top 100 small towns to live in, one at number 4! You have to guess before you hit the link.

Paul Soglin: Target is coming to University Ave.

Critical Badger: $150 of our seg-fees go to the union.

Cap Times: Gubernatorial candidates exploiting social media.