Jun 022017
 

by Rick Boettger…….

Boettger

Rick Boettger

This is the last straw. I’m fed up with the low level of journalistic integrity displayed by all of the media in the Keys except us, KWTN. As reported here last week, a Honduran immigrant was hit by a woman in a large SUV on his bicycle in a crosswalk on Stock Island. A Sheriff’s Deputy asked him his immigration status as he lay injured in the street. Then the Florida Highway Patrol gave HIM a ticket for “obstructing traffic,” And, finally, the Border Patrol arrested him to be deported.

This was big news nationally, going viral. Picked up by the AP, it has been in newspapers and on TV across the country.

But here in the Keys? Not a peep. With all of the Key West discussion about becoming a sanctuary city, not a word has been reported about a vivid example of what it all means.

I invite any of the timid media of the Keys to explain why they thought this was not locally newsworthy. They will not even try, because the real reason is so shaming and damning to them they do not even talk about it among themselves.

Basically, they suffer from what in modern parlance I’ll call “Blue Paper Derangement Syndrome.” We here at the Blue Paper do Investigative Journalism. We use our First Amendment rights and duties to speak truth to power, to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.

None of the other media here, daily, weekly, print, radio, TV, makes any pretense of using the First Amendment that way. They kowtow to the rich and powerful, and focus their sensational front-page reporting on the sad cases of perverts and thieves from the lower classes, or dutifully reprinting the press releases of the government. Coverage of rampant developers, corrupt politicians, and violent law enforcement is always respectful, even adulatory.

What we must call, again in modern parlance “Hon-bike-gate,” is only the most recent example, and not the worst. The only reason that CBS will pick up our stories while the Citizen and the Keynoter will not is that we, the Blue Paper, reported it first. In some perverse admixture of shame and jealousy, they apparently feel that they look better by not reporting something at all, as opposed to admitting they were scooped—again–by real journalists. No matter how important the story may be.

I think the worst example was when they were forced to report on the Bureau of Land Management’s declaration that Wisteria Island is owned by the government, not Bernstein and Walsh. The letter from BLM was actually sent and addressed to Naja Girard, our editor and chief investigator, as she had spent years researching and reporting on the complex factual history of Wisteria, and especially Bernard Papy’s fishy purchase of it a century ago. But no mention of her or our reporting in any of the other media!

In the sad case of the death of Charles Eimers in police custody, beaten to death on the beach, it was our debunking of the official version of events obediently parroted by others and our uncovering of the bystander video that made the case for his family getting $900,000 from the City. Not the FDLE. Not the investigative interest of any of the other lapdog Keys media. Nope, just us. But when they referenced any of the video or facts we uncovered, not a word of credit—it was as though the facts just magically turned up on YouTube.

In the case of the Alabama woman who has sued four of the five people in the Keys who use the First Amendment at all, Naja recently won her lawsuit in a 45-minute hearing before Judge Koenig. This should have been the headline of the Citizen’s coverage of the hearing. Instead, they printed 8 paragraphs stating the loser’s side of the case before slipping in, in a subjunctive clause, that the case was dismissed with prejudice, meaning Naja won. I believe the Citizen only covered these cases as long as they thought it would be embarrassing for their journalistic betters, and will drop it now that we are kicking the Alabama vexatious litigant’s ass.

She also sued me. But suing me is like drafting me into a brutal war, like that against Hitler, which is difficult and time-consuming, but which is the good battle to fight. I am so sad for the people who consider themselves “real” journalists because their wealthy advertisers will pay them for their deferential, inoffensive non-news. They couldn’t have planned it that way. But I don’t know how they sleep at night. I beg their editors and publishers to set them free to bear the responsibilities of the Fourth Estate.

We here at the Blue Paper sleep very well.

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Rick Boettger
Rick Boettger had a Top Secret security clearance in the Army and studied nuclear chemistry at MIT and law at Yale before getting a PhD in business at Berkeley. He earned tenure as a business professor at TCU in Fort Worth before going to Moscow as a Fulbright Professor, writing a book on the economy, hosting a semi-national talk radio show, and retiring to Key West in 1996 at the age of 48. Since then he has worked part-time as a tax and financial advisor, and has been doing investigative journalism since he began at the Blue Paper in 2007​. He is very happily married to his superb copy-editor Cynthia Edwards, the former long-time PIO for the Key West Police Department.
 June 2, 2017  Posted by at 12:57 am Issue #221, Rick Boettger  Add comments

  7 Responses to “What’s Wrong with the Keys Media?”

  1. Well said, Rick! Cogent and concise. The Blue Paper is unafraid to speak truth to power. Every example you mentioned just rankles the hell out of me! Fear of the truth will be the death of this fading republic.

  2. GREAT TOPIC !!
    I was a reporter on the daily Citizen some years back and I know how flabby their newsroom is. Reporters who write controversial stories are dis-employed. Controversial stories are stories that dare to question the “establishment.” Reporters are permitted to put-down homeless people and small-time employees because they can’t protect themselves from class-biased journalism. The media in the US and in KW is corporate media, sponsored and controlled by commerce. The newspaper is a search for profit, not a crusade for goodness. Commercial media has to editorally support commercial institutions if it wants to receive their money to stay alive. Do NOT expect to find fairness in the corporate news media.
    The internet blogs offer alternative reporting and bless KWTN! We can take pride in their “Best of Class” reportage. Keep going.

  3. Why am I not surprised?

  4. I know your frustration, Rick. The Citizen has been a waste of trees for too many years! There is a guy up my way who’s trying to do what the Blue Paper does, and I sent him a link to your publication. Hopefully, he’ll have the guts to stand his ground with the corruption up our way.
    My mantra these days when I comment on police problems is “Remember Charles Eimers!” Thank you all for exposing the KWPD and the FDLE.

    • Glad to hear somebody else might be jumping in! The more independent bloggers and news outlets, the better. The Keys need all they can get.

      If all you read is the Citizen or the Keynoter/Reporter, you’ll have no idea what’s going on.

  5. Beautiful read from a Beautiful Man.

    So much power and thought in your words, crafted and expressed poignantly, conveying inconvenient and discomforting truths. Such a relief…

    The war widow you aided is doing well…She’s helping others through similar circumstances……

    Blessings & Respect

  6. Thanks for the mention. 🙂

    Funny. I was getting ready to do another post today about weak and ineffective Keys media. Now all I have to do is link to your piece! Ah…nice easy Saturday.

    The Keynoter has an editorial up about how “scary and dangerous” it is for reporters these days. How would they know? I left a comment.