Alibi V.17 No.1 • Jan 3-9, 2008 

Thin Line

’07 Local Media Missteps

There were plenty of reasons to grit your teeth, cringe and curse this year thanks to Albuquerque's often lousy local media. Here is a look at a few of our favorite media snafus from 2007.

Creating the News

Local TV news can be sensational, uninformative and downright insipid, but when it decides to make its own news, an eyebrow should be raised.

This was the case when, in early December, a local TV news station called the city about the Pornotopia film festival taking place at the Guild Cinema in Nob Hill, asking whether the city was “doing anything about it.” Somehow, this was considered a "complaint" by City Attorney Bob White. The Guild was not punished for showing adult films during the event, but it was given a zoning violation and a huge headache after being threatened just hours before showtime with hundreds of dollars in fines.

So what was the news channel's motive for reporting the festival? With the query, it was as if the news station said, "if no one is concerned, we'll make them concerned." How often do TV news stations construct stories out of thin air? This time no real harm was done, but such a practice can only lead to trouble.

Bad Science Taken as Fact

What happens when a sociological study is reported as gospel in a liberal-bashing publication? You get a headline that reads: " Lean to the Left? It May Be Mommy's Fault."

This was printed in the May 25 edition of the Albuquerque Journal, and the accompanying story was filled with false assumptions and missing information. The article was based on a study by UNM biology professor Randy Thornhill that said liberals were more likely to come from stressful childhood backgrounds than conservatives. This conclusion was based on questionnaires filled out by 123 UNM students (not exactly a large or well-rounded sample), and the definition of "stressful childhoods" is never explained in the article. If only scientific discovery were as easy as the Journal makes it seem.

A Love Affair with Politicians

Sure, they might poke a little fun at the guv when his driver is caught speeding, but deep down, the Journal adores Bill Richardson. Why else would they spend five Sunday front-pages writing about him after Richardson announced he would run for president in February?

The only person the Journal loves more than a Democrat with a ton of power is a Republican with even more. When Sen. Pete Domenici announced he was retiring in October, the Journal devoted several front-pages to declaring this fact— over and over and over again. Since print media is our only source of non-sound-bite-driven news, shouldn't our paper of record devote its limited space to news that hasn't already been covered?

Will 2008 be the year local media straightens up and flies right? Probably not, but Thin Lines wouldn't be any fun if that happened.