by 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.