Jeff Pelline sounded almost conciliatory earlier this week when he sort of said something nice about The Union in his blog.
Ever since a former publisher of the paper decided he needed an advertising manager more than he needed an editor, Pelline has regularly excoriated The Union for real and manufactured shortcomings. Your basic attempt at payback.
One of his main gripes (there are too many to list here) is The Union’s treatment of controversial issues on its opinion page. The most recent example involves Nevada City’s Boardwalk.
Resident Jean Gerard wrote an “Other Voices” column in the paper Tuesday calling for the structure’s removal. The article included a gratuitous shot at the Boardwalk’s main proponent, referring to “Reinette Senum shills.”
This struck a nerve with Pelline, a big fan of Senum ever since he identified her as one of the young up-and-comers in our community when he edited The Union. (He said the same thing about Sierra College trustee Aaron Klein, who has apparently been a disappointment to Pelline since then.)
Pelline criticized The Union for carrying just one side of the argument, and right before the City Council was to decide the Boardwalk’s fate. “The Union publishes the opinions without context or counterpoint. It happens again and again.”
He apparently had a change of heart when the paper ran Senum’s response the following day. “I was glad to see (the reply) right below the masthead, no less,” he wrote in his blog. “The victory was one of fairness, not who’s right or wrong.”
Pelline called it a positive step that Senum and The Union were able to work it out, “which should be enough proof that the place has some socially redeeming value.” But he prefaced that by pointing out that Senum’s reply first appeared on her Facebook page Tuesday and that Pelline picked it up on his blog before The Union published it.
If he wants to be fair and consistent (I know, I’m asking a lot here), he would also direct his blunderbuss toward the Sacramento Bee, a place where he would like you to believe he has some influence. The Bee occasionally promotes puff pieces in his blog, and he alerted the paper’s editors to the Pascale Fusshoeller story. (The Bee used to have a full-time reporter in Auburn, but decided our area isn’t worth covering.)
The paper ran a Viewpoint piece on its op-ed page Jan. 28 written by a shill for the University of California that discussed the university’s principled stand in negotiations with one of its dastardly employee unions. Three days later (THREE DAYS!), the Bee ran a reply from the union. Just like The Union.
This is a clear violation of the Pelline fairness doctrine, and I’m sure Dan Morain, the Bee’s editorial page editor, would be receptive to some constructive criticism from our foothills task master.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I was assistant city editor and then business writer at The Union from 2001-05. I currently write a weekly column for the paper and TheUnion.com provides a link to this blog. Finally, I won Kane’s Keno several months ago.