1. Archive

Media need to do more to avoid spreading misinformation

There is no doubt that CBS has experienced a lapse in credibility as a result of its coverage of President Bush's service records. However, CBS is not alone.

Every TV and radio station, as well as print publications, that carried the initial story must share the blame. None seemed to have done its own independent research and just added to the flow of misinformation.

What's more, the media continue to disperse misinformation by accepting many print ads and radio and TV commercials from the candidates, their parties and interest groups that exaggerate, if not intentionally mislead and falsify, facts.

While we expect the news departments to scrutinize material before disseminating it, we also have a right to expect the advertising departments to ensure that paid messages hold equal truths.

Lawrence Silver, Oldsmar

Objectivity is being left behind

Re: Failing Journalism 101, editorial, Sept. 23.

In this effort to appear "fair and balanced," this lifetime journalist believes you missed the point. Was the failure of Dan Rather and CBS in airing a story that was based on improperly authenticated documents? Or, was the failure in advancing a premise without regard to fact?

Journalists in today's media-driven world often ignore historical discipline calling for objectivity in reporting. They have come up with something called "opinion journalism."

As Robert L. Bartley, editor emeritus of the Wall Street Journal, wrote, in July 2003 ". . . journalists can't have it both ways. Since they're increasingly dealing with subjective opinion, they should stop wearing "objectivity' on their sleeves."

Rather and CBS failed when they did not label the presentation "opinion" as the St. Petersburg Times does on its editorial page. But then, many stories not so labeled appear on your pages ostensibly devoted to "news."

F.L. Gus Cooper, Dunedin

Proof of biased reporting

The recent CBS scandal is a major gift to Republicans in general, and the president in particular. This is a perfect example of what happens when an organization that claims to be unbiased, trips and falls over its own hubris. Conservatives have always accused the major media organizations of liberal bias; now they have given us the scandal that will keep on giving. It couldn't have happened to a better guy. Not only did Dan Rather and company use falsified documents in an attempt to smear President Bush, the producer of the story also made several attempts to push her source over to the Kerry campaign.

The people at CBS are guilty of not only rotten journalism, but also have proven themselves to be rank political partisans. CBS News owes the president an apology. The media owe us some soul searching. They've always asked for the proof of biased media reportage. They delivered the proof themselves.

Jay Johnson, St. Petersburg

Where is the president's apology?

I find it strange that CBS was required to apologize for making public statements concerning George Bush's military service based on documents that were later found to be false. Isn't this exactly what George W. Bush did when he went public with his reason to go to war based on false intelligence documents as to Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction? Yet he was never required to apologize. The problem appears to be that Bush doesn't seem to play by the same rules required of everyone else.

So where is your apology, President Bush?

Ron Shaw, Zephyrhills

Standing against extremist Islam

On behalf of the board, staff, members and volunteers of the Florida office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL), we condemn the murders of American civilians in Iraq by a group claiming links to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, America's most wanted man in Iraq.

Videos posted recently on a Web site showed the beheadings of American men identified as Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley.

We as American Muslims condemn these heinous murders and repudiate those who deviate from authentic Islamic teachings by committing brutal acts of violence in the name of religion. We call on people of all faiths and cultures to stand with us, united against extremist ideologies that contradict the teachings and message of Islam.

As American Muslims and people of conscience, we unequivocally reject the claim that any cause could possibly be advanced by the killing of civilians. Our deepest condolences go out to the families of Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley.

Ahmed Bedier, Florida communications director,

Council on American-Islamic Relations, Tampa

Don't cling to antique regulation

Re: Giving regulators a bad name.

In its Sept. 21 editorial, the Times seems to believe that traditional economic regulation is still appropriate in today's burgeoning telecommunications market. But it's a new world out there _ competition is blossoming everywhere. Consumers can use wired phones, wireless phones, Blackberries, instant messages, e-mails, voice over Internet protocol phones, cable telephony, and other new technologies, all of which accomplish essentially the same thing.

To address this new reality, Verizon is currently investing hundreds of millions of dollars in both its wireline and its wireless networks in Florida. These investments will bring fiber into people's homes and businesses while also making lightning-fast data transmission available in a wireless environment.

Why? Because the governor and the Legislature saw that the states that stuck to old-fashioned regulation would be stuck with old-fashioned networks. We have faith in the future of the Tampa Bay area and are investing hundreds to back up that faith. In the end, that is what will improve choices for consumers and, more important, make Florida a place where our children will find better educational opportunities and jobs.

Apparently, the St. Petersburg Times would rather see that investment made elsewhere. How else to explain its devotion to the tired bromide that 1930s-type regulation is still relevant to today's telecommunications market?

Alan Ciamporcero, president, Public Policy and

External Affairs, Southeast region,

Verizon Communications, Tampa

Play by the rules

Re: A child, a condo rule, a lawsuit, Sept. 25.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why people move into condos and deed restricted areas with association rules. I for one don't want rug rats playing in my yard.

Even though I'm not in a 55-plus area, it still has rules, and these families with kids need to obey them if they move in. When the kids get injured, who will they be suing? From the looks of the 10-year-old in the picture with this story, I can see destruction!

Mary Voiles, New Port Richey