We have only visited this page a few times since we started posting some of our articles on the web, which we did principally because of interest in the Drakes Estero battle. In our recent editorial on why it is important to have covered the story for so long, we realized that it has been over a decade since our print coverage on NPS and the estero started, and as you can see from the editorial, it seems as if we have come full circle. We hope you will look at the arc of the story on our website, and we intend to report on the story till the last chapter, how the NPS has behaved after it succeeded in shutting down the oyster farm, is complete. We’re also looking at using the web to enrich our reporting. As we said in our first post, (see below) we didn’t start out being critical of the Park Service, but the facts have sure steered us in that direction. We’re still following the same rules and guidelines if you wish to comment. So once again, welcome to our website.
Welcome to the Russian River Times new home on the web. Being a monthly paper, we tend to cover stories in depth, and we’re doing an experiment with our archives on the Drakes Estero controversy, as so many people have requested access to our earlier coverage. Putting things on the web will make it much easier to share our stories, and lets us use lots more photos, in color, too!
Our position on the role of the local press was summed up in a portion of a letter we at the Times wrote to The Nation regarding the oyster farm debate.
“We provide an absolutely critical journalistic function, especially when reporting on local stories that have direct relationship to national issues. Reporting on the concerns of local citizenry, local papers have the luxury of continuing to report on an issue. As editor, I get immediate feedback about the real concerns of my readers–at the post office, at the grocery store and when I deliver papers (admittedly a less glamorous aspect of the rural editor’s job). Continued local concern enables us to cover issues in great detail and over time in a manner simply not possible in the major daily press.”
You can see the entire letters and other correspondence on the subject from people far more notable than I, such as Carl Pope of the Sierra Club, Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute, Dr. Laura Watt, an expert on preserved landscapes in National Parks, as well as some of the more mud slinging type of comment. The letter was published in Sept.2009
(Unfortunately, the Nation article no longer appears to have links to the letters)
We admit that our coverage of the National Park Service activities has become very critical, but we didn’t start out that way. When NPS announced they were shutting down the oyster farm because of environmental issues, we just felt sad, but the Park Service wouldn’t lie, would it? Shortly thereafter, we started receiving leaked documents from scientists who were concerned that the facts about the Estero were being completely distorted, and as we investigated, it became clear that NPS management were conducting a huge coverup.
Living on the coast, we come into contact with large numbers of park personnel, both national, state and county. The working rangers are a wonderful group, and we all benefit from their dedicated service, and we have nothing but respect for their hard work and service to the environment and the public. However, it has became clear to us that something has gone very wrong with NPS management. We strongly recommend that anyone interested in the truth of NPS self serving management read “The Case of the Indian Trader” from University of New Mexico Press. http://www.unmpress.com/books.php?ID=12391155859919&Page=book Pay special attention to Chapter 3, ‘The Agency’ if you want to understand what is really going on. (Our contributing editor’s copy of the book is signed both by the author, Paul Berkowitz and by Congressman Pete McCloskey, who co-authored the Endangered Species act and was largely responsible for the creation of Point Reyes National Seashore itself.)
We’re a very small paper, but we welcome comments, and you can make comments on our site, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will just have to see if the number of responses is manageable.
However, if you simply accuse us of ‘vicious personal attacks’ against somebody, your comments will be discarded. We try our best to deal in ‘unassailable verified facts’, but if you tell us where we got it wrong (please cite references) we’ll do our best to fix our coverage.
If local readers will let us know what you think of the Times providing this type of coverage, perhaps we can expand it to other hot local topics. Looks like the zombie septic regulations are about to strike again, so we will probably be posting on that subject in the future.