Claremont Insider: IE Weekly Writer Reacts

Friday, August 15, 2008

IE Weekly Writer Reacts

Boy, that David Silva over at the Inland Empire Weekly really doesn't like us, does he?

The Inland Empire Weekly writer has a response to our comments about his cover story in his paper's August 7-13 issue titled, "Anonymity Sucks: What Really Happened With The Claremont Cookie Monster."

In this week's IE Weekly, Silva has a lengthy clarification on page 5 entitled, "Claremont Blog Still Howling Like a Wounded Dog." The web version is accompanied by a graphic we really like showing a keyboard and a monitor dressed up with a Groucho Marx nose, eyebrows, moustache, and funny glasses. In the piece, Silva brings it right to us:

....My article wasn’t really about “the fight” between Taylor and the Scouts—wouldn’t you agree, Buzz? The notion of Taylor being engaged in a fight with Girl Scouts is your construct, not mine. No, my article was about how the L.A. Times missed the real story behind the Scout issue. And that the real story was how you, Claremont Buzz of the Claremont Insider, seized upon a brief, minor dispute between your arch-nemesis and a group of young girls and shamelessly exploited it to serve your own ends. Isn’t that closer to the truth, Buzz?

Well, we suppose. We must be really dense. We're certainly not professionals, as Silva happily points out. We really don't know how we could have been so stupid as to get the idea that the article was about Claremont Mayor Ellen Taylor and a local Girl Scout troop - unless it was from Silva's original email to us:
Wednesday, July 30, 2008 11:11 AM
Subject: Request for interview
From:"David Silva"
To: Claremont Buzz

Dear Claremont Buzz:

I'm a writer with the Inland Empire Weekly newspaper, working on an article on the recent controversy over then-Claremont Deputy Mayor Ellen Taylor's encounter in March with a troop of local Girl Scouts. Would you be available for an interview, via email exchange, on this subject?

The Inland Empire Weekly, a subsidiary of Southland Publishing Co., is an alternative newspaper based in Corona. This article is scheduled to run as a cover news story in the Weekly.

I look forward to hearing from you,

David Silva
Editorial Contributor
Inland Empire Weekly

So, being the dense amateurs we are, we took Silva's email at face value and assumed he really wanted to know about what he said was the subject of his article. We wrote back, telling him to fire away.

Silva sent back six compound questions, one on Ellen Taylor, two generally on the solicitation ordinance, one on the the issue of our anonymity, one on our handling of the girl scout incident, and another on the general subject of our opinion of restrictions on cookie sales. We answered by focusing on what he had told us was his interest.

At no point in either of the emails from Silva did he refer to the Los Angeles Times, the article, its accuracy, or its author David Pierson.

Ever helpful, and because we believe context is important, we also suggested he contextualize the girl scout encounter--his stated topic--by examining some past incidents in town, including the very public, divisive, and well-documented Claremont municipal election of 2005, which involved a number of Taylor supporters, as well as a couple incidents involving Taylor and her neighbors.

But, since Silva's story wasn't really what he told us, there was no need for him to try to understand the Girl Scout incident, to place it in context, or to be objective about it. So, he just discarded most of our responses to his questions. Silva instead focused on the reporting mistakes LA Times writer Pierson made (already covered by us on July 19) and railed more than a bit against against the Insider.

He concludes his clarification by berating us for taking the long way--in two separate posts--to make what he conceded to be a valid point. We'll take a lesson from a pro and conclude the same way.

Silva seems to have started out with an a priori opinion about anonymity and certain bloggers, and he stuck closely to it. Our only question is, why not save the 2,541 words in the first article and the 960 words in follow-up and just run the very last sentence of his latest piece? That seems to be have been Silva's point in the first place: "Your blog is still crap, though."