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Herald and Weekly Withhold the News

They knew the Wyoming coal delegation was coming to visit Whatcom County and Cherry Point on Tuesday, June 10. Indeed, both the Bellingham Herald and the Cascadia Weekly were invited to send a reporter to the “news conference.” Other local media were not notified, including NWCitizen, Sweeney Politics, or the Whatcom Watch. It was all so cozy.

They knew the coal delegation was coming but did not inform their readers or subscribers. Subscribers to the Herald pay to get the daily paper, hoping to get news that is important to our community. The Weekly pretends to inform us in-depth but, it seems, after the fact. But even in today’s Weekly, nothing, although they knew of the selective news conference ahead of time.

Ralph Schwartz posted a blog on the Herald site late yesterday, including his softball questions and the Wyoming folks answers. It reads like a PR report for Wyoming coal. He apparently did not ask about trains or their impacts. Bob Simmons attended for the Cascadia Weekly and maybe, if we're lucky, we will get something next week.

We have been checking to see what high level elected officials knew of the pending visit. So far, it seems Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville did not know of the visit until I informed her of it on the phone this morning. She is known to oppose the coal port terminal. The visit appears to have been focused on selling the coal concept to two local newspapers.

You can read Ralph’s blog piece online - “Wyoming sees bright future for coal.” How charming. What tough reporting. And still nothing in today’s print edition of the Herald. Nothing even in the online Herald news. Just buried in the blog.

Why the news blackout? Why the secrecy by the Wyoming folks if they think their story is so good? Maybe they can tell us. Maybe the Herald and Weekly can explain why they withheld the information and why they participated in a closed and secretive news conference. Reporters who knowlingly enable such secretive events know they are hindering open press reporting. They will no doubt have vehement defenses of their participation. Perhaps on FaceBook somewhere, where it can be deleted later.

Just imagine Riley Sweeney at that news conference. There would have been some tough questions. But Gateway Pacific Terminal, the host of the event, did not want to embarrass their Wyoming visitors with an actual news conference.

About John Servais

Writer • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

Terry Wechsler

Jun 11, 2014

Or, as I like to call it, The Magical Mythical Microbe Tour.

Ralph’s explanation for the PR puff coverage is in comments now, below the blog post. I will probably be banned for life from the Herald, but, damn, I had to take this on as a coal activist. Here’s what I said to him:

“I appreciate that perspective, Ralph, but the piece would have benefited from such a statement at the top. Because here’s the rest of the story and, to me, the REAL story: WY sent a letter to the state threatening to sue us if we don’t allow them to wreck our state so they can export their coal; next they set aside $500K for future legal fees to sue us if we don’t let them wreck our state so they can export their coal; and now they’re sending a junket here to tell us why we should WANT to let them wreck our state to export their coal. And they did it by sneakin’ in and out, like the snakes that they are, without the public ever knowing about it, because god forbid there being a headline about people lining the street approaching the proposed terminal site with anti-coal signs instead of the headline that they got [“Wyoming sees bright future for coal”]. Yuh shoulda told us they were coming, particularly if you were going to go and cover it.”

To see what happened in Longview when they got a head’s up before receiving their visiting dignitary from coal country, see http://ecowatch.com/2014/06/04/coal-exports-pacific-northwest/. Now THAT woulda been a headline here. But that’s not the one we got.

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Abe Jacobson

Jun 11, 2014

I have complete confidence that the Cascadia Weekly will cover the coal-site visit with the objectivity and skepticism it deserves. Tuesday 10 June was too close to deadline to be properly treated in Wednesday 11 June’s edition.

The Herald situation is in no way blamable on, or lump-able with, our excellent Weekly. The Herald is a different kettle of fish.

As for other publications and media outlets, yes, the more the merrier. The public would have been well served to have NW Citizen, Whatcom Watch, and Riley’s blog invited and attending. But this is not the fault of the Weekly.

Best wishes,
Abe Jacobson

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David Camp

Jun 12, 2014

After several of my comments on a Ralph Shwartz piece (and others) were randomly and arbitrarily deleted, I cancelled my subscription to the Herald. It seems that Herald management considers its duty is to its advertisers, its corporatist ideology, and its fellow corporatists (such as SSA Marine), rather than to its readers or to the ideal of reporting NEWS of interest and importance to its readers.

Not informing readers in advance of such an important event smacks of suppression of information. And what type of institution is involved in actively suppressing information? A dominionist propaganda organ.

Really sad that the Herald management has decided to epitomise the creeping fascism of our day.

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Tip Johnson

Jun 12, 2014

Isn’t there a term for someone that lollygags around hoping someone will pay them for insertions?

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Walter Haugen

Jun 13, 2014

For an insight into the mindset of different areas I always like to peruse the bumper stickers on pickemup trucks. In Wyoming, you see this one:

“Please Lord, just give us one more boom and I promise we won’t piss it away this time.”

The Montana folks like this one - especially after one too many Californians moved to Bozeman and drove up prices.

“Send us the money. We’ll send you pictures.”

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Mark Hall

Jun 13, 2014

I was fairly inflamed to read the bit about the Wyoming delegation breezing thru town without a chance to see what the folks who live here think about their intent, cowards. I agree that it was a photo op and a sad departure from journalistic efforts. Hopefully the Lummi Tribal representatives the delegation invited to Wyoming will set them straight. I suggest, tongue firmly in cheek, that we agree to allow Wyoming to ship it’s damn coal, IF every tanker going back East took a load of toxic Hanford waste and get that pesky stuff off our hands. Sitting out on my front porch in a place as beautiful as we live in, it makes me furious that they think it’s fine to kill the planet for profit! Wyoming’s has some beautiful spots, but they’ve befouled a lot of it. One can smell it in Pinedale, or see all the fracking pads on Google Earth and now they’d bring it here. The sound of the train used to feel friendly, now it’s a threat. Thanks Mark

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Terry Wechsler

Jun 20, 2014

While I still wish we’d known about The Magical Mythical Microbe Tour in advance, Bob Simmons’ after-the-fact report is hilarious and worth the wait: http://www.cascadiaweekly.com/currents/the_doubtful_blessings_of_wyomings_coal

As for WY’s bluster that we’re standing in the way of modernization in China where millions are living in the dark and cold, waiting for us to send them our PRB coal so they can finally bring some comforts of life to the deserving poor, in the REAL world, another proposal has bitten the dust. Australia—the world’s leading coal exporter—has canned a proposal siting ... (wait for it) lack of demand in China. http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/06/20/uk-australia-coal-port-idINKBN0EV0L020140620

Irony’s a bitch.

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