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I hesitate to add to all of the coverage and discussion about the Victoria dance and drill team, but this e-mail exchange with a reader seems worth sharing. He graciously agreed to use his name in this blog.


Mr. Cobler,

I found this article in the Houston Chronicle and thought that I would share it with you. It seems to have a somewhat different slant from what we have seen in the Victoria Advocate.

Regards,

Dan Martin


Thanks, Mr. Martin,

I'm familiar with the story, which summarized the lengthy coverage previously reported in the Advocate. What slant did you find most interesting?

Regards,

Chris Cobler


Good Morning Mr. Cobler,

A couple of issues jumped out at me. The first was the manner Mrs. Jaynes was relieved of her duties in detail. The instant and total separation of her from the group was not spelled out in our local paper. Also the issue regarding Kim Franklin, the booster club, how funds were spent and the fact that Mrs. Jaynes had a family member that received financial benefit from a fund-raiser.

I think the fact that it was written from the perspective of an investigative reporter from a large city and had that "looking form the outside in" feel. Whereas the Victoria Advocate seemed a bit "sanitized" regarding the core issue. This is about "Cheerleader Moms" and a person that appears to be from the cast of "Glee" and I have no dog in this fight.

For many years I subscribed to the Houston Chronicle because of the reporting and, in my view, was a source of generally unbiased journalism. The Victoria Advocate in recent years seems to have lost that and now is much farther to the right than center. I am for the most part a Independent Moderate in regards to politics and social issues. I am also old enough to remember what "Yellow Journalism" meant. When I finish a news article I should not be able to accurately guess how the reporter votes. Forgive this last paragraph as a "rant" but without details and hard facts everything else is just a story.

Truth be told, I do enjoy the papers comics. "Non Sequitur", "Pearls Before Swine" and a cup of coffee and I am good to go. Thank you again for your time and interest in your readers thoughts.

Have a good and safe day,

Dan Martin


Dear Mr. Martin,

Thank you for elaborating. I'm curious to hear how others view the parachute journalism practiced by our nearby big-city paper. I'm so close to all of these stories because we cover them day to day that I lose an outsiders' view of the local news.

I didn't learn anything in the Chronicle's story, but perhaps we didn't do a good enough job of relaying everything we knew through the multiple stories. For example, we didn't focus much on Mrs. Jaynes' nephew and his role in TKB because ultimately that accusation of nepotism or financial impropriety was never proven. Nonetheless, there are so many interesting tidbits in this drama that one long story summarizing it all might be worthwhile. I always find it fascinating to see how two different journalists approach the same story.

On your larger point about our news being biased, I'm more troubled by that assertion. Generally, we're accused of being too liberal, so your contention that we're too right-winged is a bit out of the norm. I can assure you we strive to be fair and balanced with all of our news coverage. We want to leave the opinions to our Viewpoints pages.

It's difficult to talk in generalities about this issue, though. If you ever have a specific example of where you see bias, please let me know. I'll certainly consider that seriously and, if appropriate, bring it to our ethics board, which meets monthly to consider the thorny questions we regularly tackle. The board, composed of people from across all newspaper departments and a UHV professor, is designed to help us practice our journalism fairly and thoughtfully.

Again, I appreciate the opportunity to have this exchange and for your support of your Advocate.

Regards,

Chris Cobler


Dear Mr. Cobler,

Thank you for your well stated reply. I do have one observation regarding left/right bias. I have seen the comments of you being too liberal I think indicates the most outspoken critics point of view not the true beliefs of our citizens. Regarding the Victoria Advocates center line, Michael Reagan has a frequent editorial and Leonard Pitts Jr has not been seen in your paper for a long time. Perhaps it is a matter of economics. I for one would like to see a face to face debate between these two gentlemen.

Thank you again,

Dan Martin