Disappointed by Some Advocacy Journalism

Label advocacy journalism as opinion — or eliminate it altogether.


Eliminate Bias

I was disappointed to read several stories that smelled of what could only be called “advocacy journalism.” One was about Councilwoman [Desley] Brooks [“The Fight for District 6,” September], and the second was about Mayor [Libby] Schaaf and whether what happened to Congressman Capuano in Boston would happen to her [“Is Oakland the Next Boston?” October].

In each case, I had the feeling the reporter was subtly and not so subtly painting reality in a way he preferred it to be, rather than the way it is. I’m a progressive, and I actually might want some of the same things. But this is not what I want from my journalism. I don’t want any wink, wink, nod, nod, we all know who’s not progressive enough crap. That’s simplistic and, frankly, useless.

I am particularly offended when I see tropes like “some say,” and “many people believe” used to inject what appear to be the writer’s own opinion into a piece.

I don’t expect you to shy away from real issues. But I would hope they would treated seriously and with the complexity, open-mindedness, depth, and variety of viewpoints they deserve (and not just “on the one hand, on the other hand,” either). I know good journalism like that is not easy to produce. 

So if you believe [a] reporter is capable to taking an honest, fresh look at an issue, interviewing and truly listening to people with insight and expertise, and representing their salient, legitimate points to your readers in a way that informs us, then it’s the job of the editors to make sure [this] bias doesn’t slap us in the face.

And if you believe [the reporter] is not capable of taking a true journalistic approach to the serious issues we face in Oakland, … then you should find somebody who can do that, or label [this] work “opinion.”

Your readers are smart, and I’m guessing most lean progressive. But we don’t need our progressive opinions spoon-fed to us. Or to be told we’re not sufficiently progressive, because we’ve been around long enough to know housing, transportation, and homelessness are complex.

We need real analysis, and a balanced, insightful exploration of our many-layered problems — none of which are solved or better understood by puffing up Desley Brooks or pulling down Libby Schaaf. Please eliminate this cheap form of bias and raise your sights higher. Obvious advocacy journalism rather than real journalism cheapens you, and it does no service to us. 

Ken Olofia

Russo Effort

Actually, an effort was launched by the City Attorney’s Office in 2000 under the leadership of John Russo [“Fighting for Civil Rights,” October]. It was headed by Alex Nguyen and was called the Neighborhood Law Corps. Let’s give credit to those to whom it is due.

Rashidah Grinage

Kiva Fan

I have enjoyed Kiva bars [Take the Edge Off,” October] for years and haven’t drunk alcohol in years because it brings on migraines

Amelia Amy Rose

Recalling Brennan’s

Enjoyed many an Irish Coffee there [at Brennan’s] [“Is Irish Coffee Irish?” October]!

Peggy Brown

Author Praise

I love this profile/write-up of The Golden State [Documenting Motherhood and More,” October]

Lydia Kiesling

Men’s Group

I hope they get to continue [“Going in Circles, October] without bother. It’s great to hear of men sharing and bonding.

Helen Saunders

Leave them be!!

Dan Wilson

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