Pacific Grove newspaper Cedar Street Times’ Publisher Marge Jameson Censors all letters from a reasonable middle of the road citizen. Sends him two emails refusing to publish any of his letters to the editor.
Growing up here, I blindly trusted local newspapers. It never once crossed my mind whether they would do anything other than give us the whole story. And of course if they overlooked an important fact or useful way of looking at our local issues – a simple letter to the editor could easily correct it.
Sounds good right ?
Well that was my unarticulated understanding – until I got into politics.
“Well, the difference between theory and practice
is a lot bigger in practice than in theory.”
Its been an eye-opening and hard won lesson that leading Monterey Peninsula newspapers viscerally detest some opinions that oppose theirs. So they flat out censor those letters with views held by lots of local folks and the unarguable facts that support them. They employ all kinds of bogus excuses that are far more creative than “the dog ate it” – but just as counterfeit.
“But,” you respond, “newspapers are obligated to report your point of view and publish your letter to the editor – aren’t they?”
Nope. Flat out No.
A newspaper is a private for-profit business that has absolutely no legal obligation to print anything they don’t like.
No legal obligation. Period.
However they do have a moral and ethical obligation to print opposing views – because the community expects it. It’s just that emotions overtake their sense of community. And since advertising dollars are the lifeblood of local newspapers, when local advertisers call up and yell at them (they really do) in spite of their denials – editors fold as fast their cheap suits.
Because of my long history of exposing improper practices of local government wrong-doing you might expect my letters or commentaries to get censored – and they are (more about that later).
But I never thought I’d see the day when censorship happened to an everyday reasonable fellow.
Here’s how it happened.
Until recently Pacific Grove had two newspapers – the Hometown Bulletin and the smaller Cedar Street Times owned by Marge Jameson. This summer the Cedar Street Times bought the Hometown Bulletin and consolidated it so now there’s only one Pacific Grove paper.
In the meantime along comes controversial developer Nader Agha and his buddy from Texas who want to put a giant hotel where Holmans now stands – except five times larger in volume. A seventy-five foot high monolithic structure from Lighthouse Ave to the Library, from Fountain Ave to Grand Avenue – block to block, street to street.
That huge Holman hotel proposal prompted a reasonable letter of concern to the Cedar Street Times editor from a local citizen Vince Tuminello (1).
Here’s the verbatim reply he got back from the Cedar Street Times editor Marge Jameson:
“Go away. I will not have your name in my paper.”
And when he inquired further, she emailed back —
“Don’t you understand, I’m not going to run this letter or anything else from you?”
While this sentiment is normal for most local papers (with some sterling exceptions like Paul Laub’s since closed “Freedom of Speech”) – catching them putting it in writing happens about as often as Big Foot sightings. Editors usually just toss the letters and ignore people and ideas they don’t like.
Paul Miller’s Pine Cone not only censors letters to the editor (the only commentaries he allows are his own) – Miller actively campaigns FOR censorship of people he can’t adequately debate (2).
Then there’s the Herald’s Cowardly Lion and Royal Letter Censor named Calkins who is so cranky he should have retired a decade ago. He once yelled at me that he would never print anything from me (3). (He yells at lots of people)
Then he lied to his boss about it. He had the arrogance to yell at me, but not enough to tell his boss the truth. It got worse – a week later Calkins unleashed everything at his command to attack me personally.
More about this later.
So after censoring Mr. Tuminello’s reasonable letter this same week Cedar Street Times published a letter from the Texas developer of the Gigantic new Holmans Hotel named Leddy (along with an ad and an article) – but no letters opposing the Nader Agha / Leddy hotel.
There’s something seriously wrong here.
That’s patently unethical. Its even a financial conflict of interest (not the same as a bribe) because apparently Nader Agha / Leddy paid for an ad in the same issue Jameson fawned all over him and his project.
What I intend to do about it is explicitly avoid any business that advertises in the Cedar Street Times – and let them know why.
1. Full text of Censored Letter to Cedar Street Times —
In the past decade there have been four large controversial buildings erected in Pacific Grove by other mayors without voter approval. There is the expensive oversized city hall, the ill conceived golf club house, the four story expansion of Forest Hill Manor, and the housing project near Lovers Point. Residents should be happy this time it is different.
Kudos to Mayor Carmelita Garcia and her faithful council majority for presenting the proposed hotel project to the voters. She has consistently represented the will and best interests of the residents. I know she is waiting for your decision.
Please register and vote.
2. Carmel Pine Cone Publisher Paul Miller advocates for person-specific Censorship in publishing “The Dilworth Phenomena” (Miller then Censored HOPE’s letter to the editor fully correcting and rebutting so many of the grossly false claims made by Paul Miller in that editorial. Here’s our censored letter “Pine Cone turns American Dream Upside Down“)