Saturday, July 11, 2009

New York Times uncharacteristically stubs its toe on a rural issue for the second time this week

One of our favorite observations is that the best newspaper coverage of rural America is most often found in that supposedly most metropolitan of papers, The New York Times, because it makes a strong effort to be a truly national newspaper and report on the 20 percent of the population and the 80 pefrcent of the landscape that is rural. But the Times has disappointed and surprised us twice this week, with stories that exhibited a bias against rural and agricultural viewpoints.

First, there was the story about stimulus money going disproportionately to rural roads, with no rural views on what justification there might be for that. (UPDATE, July 14: Bill Bishop at the Daily Yonder shows there were several other things wrong with that story.) Today, in a story headlined "Disillusioned Environmentalists Turn on Obama as Compromiser," reporter Leslie Kaufman and her editors said the House-passed climate bill's "perceived shortcomings" included "the usurping of the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory authority over carbon emissions."

That's a reference to the bill's provision, added in a House floor amendment and frequently reported here, that would give the Department of Agriculture primary (not sole) authority to certify that farm and forest practices keep carbon dixode from entering the atmosphere and thus deserve government carbon credits. To those who would argue that the use of "perceived" makes the use of "usurping" all right, consider this: EPA has only recently asserted authority over carbon dioxide, has no regulations on it, and it waiting on Congress to act. Folks at EPA may feel that they have been usurped, but that's not enough to allow the usage above. Even "overriding," the next verb the story uses to describe the change, doesn't qualify in our book. No agency has ever certified carbon sequestration, so there's nothing to override. Or usurp.

Without those glitches, the story would be fine. With them, it simply doesn't measure up to what we're used to seeing from The New York Times. Just our opinion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I live two miles away from the "bridge in the middle of nowhere" made famous by CNN back in March, and I am still driving over the crumbling 1930's structure daily. But at least I get to admire the progress on the new $8.5 million Osage River bridge being constructed alongside it. (CNN allowed St. Louis Mayor Slay to say it was only being repaired.) CNN ought to come back and report on the progress. They might also get out that map Drew was having trouble reading and look to the south on Highway 17. The highway goes right through Ft. Leonard Wood, one of the the largest if not the largest military reservation in the nation. If there is a major problem requiring military response, Highway 17 may be one of the routes the military uses to get equipment to where it needs to be, but only after the new bridge is completed. The military quit using it years ago because of it and other narrow bridges on the highway. Most of them have now been upgraded, although one just south of the river is only on the state of Missouri's list for replacement and is not yet funded.