Friday, January 2, 2015

SNR resolves to 'do better'

1/1/15 cover of SNR

In the latest (1/1/15) issue of Sacramento News & Review there is what seems to be a set of admirable New Year’s Resolutions the publication has committed itself to abide by.

Before sifting through the wisdom in the words of the piece, there are perhaps-minor points that should be brought up: Who (or what?) wrote the thing? What is it, exactly? And how would a commitment to be more fair, more on top of government money matters, more environmentally aware and more compassionate to homeless folk, etc., manifest in future articles the tabloid-sized alternative magazine publishes?

On the cover of the tabloid, the piece is referenced as “New Year’s Resolutions for the 916.” A gray header that tops the piece on page 6 says EDITORIAL. The title of the piece is “2015: A to-do list.” We don’t know if the publisher or one of the Editors-in-Chief wrote it, or if SNR has an editorial board. There is no reference to a writer. It’s an enigma that maybe only Alan Turing could decipher.

But, as I say, maybe “who’s behind the curtain” is a minor point. The publication by some means and many reasons left unexplicated wants to do better. And wanting to “do better” is always good, I should think.

Heading the ‘list’ without a list is a commitment to treat Mayor Johnson better. The second paragraph says, “We resolve … to be more supportive of [KJ] when he’s right, and of making a point to provide editorial backing for his good ideas.” Specific good ideas from the mayor are cited in the third paragraph: Raising the minimum wage in Sacramento and use of body cameras for Sacramento police officers.

Next, SNR promises to do its duty and act as the eyes and ears of the public by reporting on money matters relating to local, county and state government and the campaign-money-raising politicians in that realm.

In the last half of the piece, things start to get increasingly vague. There’s a resolution to get outdoors and explore. There’s a resolution to help the poor and homeless and those with mental issues “[not because] they deserve it, but simply because they need it.” There’s, then, a curiously Christian resolution to “practice quiet gratitude, both for our own health and the peace of those around us.”

Next, there’s the resolve “to be part of the solution” which, from my read, is one of being steadfast in support of success for the city at becoming an ever-more pleasant place to live even as SNR suffers some disappointments in how some political matters are resolved.

And lastly, SNR hopes the city maintains its lively, jankety, arty, musical, tasty, gripping, booksy, magical, enthralling, wonderful, dance-your-ass-off character.

And then things are summed up with these words: “In short, we resolve that in 2015, we’re going to enjoy Sacramento in the way it deserves to be enjoyed.” This sum-up sounds jolly and good -- and likely it was meant in that spirit -- but it makes not a lick of sense. The way "Sacramento ... deserves to be enjoyed?" What twattle.

The tenor of the piece is laudable, but an Editorial Board manifesto – even from an ersatz Editorial Board – should be clear headed. Sacramento News & Review is a bit of a big deal, after all, in our middle-sized metropolis. AND, it is the second of only two publications in our metropolis that print important investigative articles. Topping the two-item list is the Sacramento Bee, our one daily newspaper, that is, today, much slimmed down and far, far less courageous than it once was.

Sure, SNR isn’t an always-serious publication. It’s not going to fill the role that is needed. It’s going to stay Seth Rogen, not become Edwin R. Murrow. It is always going to be trying to be funny and obscure and to think of itself, too glowingly, as being clever and edgy.

Sheriff Jones on the cover of
the Christmas issue of SNR
But lately, in the last year or so, there has been a downward slide. The issue before the most recent one – the Christmas issue -- had a cover piece that was wholly mean-spirited, “Sacramento’s Grinches of the Year.” Topping the list of those spat upon was County Sheriff Scott Jones, pictured on the cover in green-face. A prime criticism of Jones was a YouTube he posted, delivering a message to the President of what should be done regarding immigration. A factor that motivated Jones’ effort was the death of two police officers, killed by an illegal immigrant, in a shoot-out that was much reported on in October.

I perceive myself to be at a very different place on the political spectrum than Sheriff Jones, but I respect his right and motivation to make known his views on the matter of immigration. The SNR piece said of Jones, “… [he] used the tragic deaths of two officers to burnish his political rep on YouTube while trashing the president’s immigration policy.” For one thing, the president’s immigration policy was revealed two days after Jones’ YouTube piece was posted; Jones wasn't trashing any enunciated policy. From listening to the YouTube video, I think Jones was saying only what he believes and that he is saddened by the deaths of the officers and concerned about the dangers in his profession.

One might think that SNR would respect freedom of speech.

I hope that SNR’s Resolutions – be what they may – result in better articles in 2015.

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