According to our critics, bloggers like me aren’t really very good journalists. We’re partisan, we’re selective, and we don’t do our own reporting. Get your news from real journalists, like those at the Seattle Times, and you’ll come away much better informed.
Or will you?
Take this morning’s article on a plumbing screwup at Washington State Ferries headquarters, a story that’s making the top of the hour news on radio stations across the region: “Water fountains fed by heating, cooling systems found in ferries headquarters.”
Oh man… figures, doesn’t it? And you can see that instant, angry, government/union-bashing reaction in the comment thread on the Times website:
“This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, were talking Washington State Ferry System they have trouble keeping their ferries running.”
“Probably hooked up by the state Ferry engineers.”
“Wonderful that the State requires union workers paid union wages on contracts and this is what we get. But I’m sure the union will step right in and protect the lazy plumber who did this by saying they need ‘more training’.”
Only problem is, while none of the facts in the article appear to be obviously wrong (because apart from the addition of an administrator’s quote, all of the facts seem to have been pulled from a WSDOT press release), the Times article gave its government-hating readers exactly the wrong impression.
This wasn’t a screwup on the part of lazy/incompetent public employees, but rather the private sector.
For what the Times leaves out is that the building is owned and operated by Seattle uber-landlord Martin Selig, and that the water fountains were installed two-years before the Ferries moved into the building, not by union plumbers, but by a small, mom & pop, Kirkland-based contractor.
The Ferries and their workers were victims here, not the perpetrators. But you wouldn’t guess that from the Times’ factual reporting.