Argus spins story on creationism to their own point of view. Or did they? How can you tell in the "new Argus"

The "new" Argus Leader did a story this morning on the resolution passed by the State GOP convention this summer on alternatives theories to evolution as well as possible proposals to include alternatives to evolution in state educational curriculum:
"To the extent possible, I would carry the water for that bill," said state Sen. Brock Greenfield, a Clark Republican who stirred the pot this past session by pushing through draconian cuts to South Dakota Public Broadcasting, which later were rescinded.

But as much as Greenfield supports the notion that students ought to be taught both creationism and evolution, he's uncertain about legislation. He'd sponsor such a bill only if someone asked him to do so. And he wants to be careful about getting into a losing court fight.

"I'm not looking to get myself out there on a limb that can't hold me," he said.


"If the bill were introduced, I'd be inclined to support the idea of teaching kids everything," said state Rep. Hal Wick, a Sioux Falls Republican. But Wick doesn't want to force Christian beliefs "down anyone's throat, either."

Wick's main concern, though - as Roberts indicated - was imposing another state mandate, especially one that would cost money.

The resolution has let the genie out of the bottle, though. It's in the hands of legislators, and who knows what they'll do with it?

"It's like abortion," said Greenfield. "As I said on the floor, that's a fight worth fighting. This is, too."

Read it all here. That would normally have ended the story, but then Chuck Baldwin added a comment that you would expect to see more on this website or another blog which editorializes on news or the opinions of the day:
"That's what comes of legislators thinking."
Wait a minute? So was this an article expressing opinion, or was it a news article in which the author couldn't restrain his own biases? In fact, if you go back through the article, there are a couple other examples of buzz-phrases where the contempt is dripping:
"Some of our state legislators now are thinking - about evolution. And no good can come of that for South Dakotans."

"pushing through draconian cuts to South Dakota Public Broadcasting"
Now, this is coming off of a front page article in one of the subsections which is blending opinion and news in a mish-mash where the reader can't identify which is which. It's a section front page article - Is it opinion? It looks like it's being portrayed as news? So, what is it?

If I were to give a name to this melding of opinion and news in the halls of traditional journalism without differentiation, I'd join the two words themselves and call it "ooze."

Yes, yes. Before you start, I know it's similar to the things we do on our weblogs and websites. But the difference is that most of us who are on-line are not pretending to be South Dakota's major public outlet of news in print. And we're pretty clear about what is being taken as reported fact and what is simply opinion.

As for me, I editorialize on news and what limited reporting I do is to report happenings in a gossipy fashion. Occasionally, I do some researched hard reporting.

But the Argus deems themselves THE source of South Dakota news. That's news, as in researched, and reported in a detatched and factual manner.

My gripe is in this instance, when you can't tell what is news and what isn't news, but opinion.

In politics, this "ooze" is the bane of political campaigns, and more than once has caused candidates and their staffs to complain about a reporter's clear bias - and here's the evidence as stated in print. So in this instance, how does someone complain about bias? Obviously, you're not going to complain about an editorial. But you would about a news story written in this manner.

When you're reading blogs, you know that you're getting things written from a biased point of view. So, does this mean that the 5th estate's new standard operating procedure is to become print editions of blogs?

Apparently, their thinking is that if you can't beat them, join them.

My take on it? They have their place, and we have ours.

Because when they try to become us, it just becomes 'oozing' and 'confusing.'


Anonymous said…
If you don't like the Argus, don't buy it and don't read it. It's a private entity and can do and say whatever it wants.
Anonymous said…
I agree the last line goes to far. However, it is what a creationism bill would do to the state and the GOP I find more troubling. Creationism is a faith based belief. Evolution is science fact. Facts should be taught in school. Faith should be taught in church or, at most, a social studies class that studies all religious beliefs of creation.
commander other said…
Shorter SDWC: "Oh goodness!!! Chuck Baldwin, the Opinion Editor for the Argus Leader, wrote an OPINION. He must be a left-wing shill hell-bent on getting everyone in the State consigned to the seventh level of Hell."

Your inability to distinguish between Opinion and News merely bespeaks your personal ignorance. Your tone merely bespeaks your propagandist agenda for a fascist state, PP. No real suprise there, of course.
David Newquist said…
I do not have a hard copy of the Argus Leader, so I don't know just how this story was displayed. You say it was on the front page of a subsection. Well, as most subsections are feature sections, its location may be a clue that the story is not hard news. But there is more.

The story does not have a hard news lead. It does not pose facts and indicate that it will follow a line of development in support of those facts . Rather it starts off with a literary reference to the Scopes trial as it was portrayed in "Inherit the Wind." And it quotes a couple pieces of dialogue from that play/film. That is a fairly good indication that the story is to be an interpretive one, one that poses some historical and cultural attitudes about teaching evolution and creationism. It then quotes some legislators on the subject and puts their ideas in the context of a long and extensive cultural debate on the subject. When one gets that far into the essay, one can fairly well see that the piece is an examination of viewpoints, not a report that quotes the legislators' statements for the purpose of merely putting on record what they say.

Chuck Baldwin's attitude toward lawmakers follows a long tradition of scathing dismissal. Mark Twain did it often and famously, and so did Will Rogers. Lawmakers have never been known for being well educated, well spoken, models of informed, rational debate. When I held my last full-time newspaper job, I worked just across the river from Iowa, and many colleagues from other newspapers and news services dropped in to chat and make use of our editorial offices to file their stories. At that time we did not have the Daily Show or Saturday Night Live, and we used to joke that the best entertainment was the state legislature in Des Moines. But at least you could see what was happening on the Capitol floor. The one in Springfield was another issue, because it was dominated by the Chicago machine. The point is that where good journalists work, legislators are held accountable for the quality of their thought and expression. Baldwin was obviously using a news feature essay to bring to light some attitudes and statements in the context of the continuum of debate about teaching evlolution and creationism.

As for citing the term "draconian" as a news slant, the word is synonym for "severe." It refers back to the Greek politician Draco, who created a very severe code of laws for Athens. That the word is overused does not change its meaning in the way Baldwin used it.

And when one gets to the end of the essay, Chuck Baldwin is identified as the Opinion Editor.

In trying to be relevant, the Argus Leader seems to be letting the bells and whistles of "interactive" technology make it difficult to discern what is news and what is commentary, but this story makes no pretense of being hard news. It is interpretation in the context of how its subject has been treated in our society.

When it comes to how news is handled in the more advanced enterprises in journalism, let us turn to Bob Woodward.
PP said…
I should have clarified, it would be as if it were on the front page of the Sioux Empire section.

Usually not where they place opinion, but in the new Argus, who can tell.
nonnie said…
Anonymous 10:38. Yes, the Argus is a private entity, but it should not be able to do and say anything it wants. It is a NEWSpaper, the largest one in SD (I wish someone would give it a run for its money, but that's another story), the only one many people read, and it has an obligation to report news in a straightforward, honest, unbiased way. I repeat, it has that OBLIGATION. The problem here is that its bias is so cleverly done that many people will be influenced by it and not even realize it.

Maybe with the Argus "new" paper both format and reporting wise, it is the perfect time for some competition to come to Sioux Falls. I think the Argus would be surprised how many cancellations it would have if there were a choice of papers in SF.
Haggs said…
PP, that's your mistake. You're thinking of the new Voices section as if it were still the Sioux Empire section. In the old Sioux Empire, its front page articles were actual journalistic pieces dedicated to a local new story. The only opinion on the front was Kranz's articles.

But in the new Argus Leader, the moved all that local news to the first section. So now Voices (the Sioux Empire section) is more dedicated to opinion articles.

So I can see how you'd be confused, PP. No worries.
Cy said…
Can we just be honest--the Argus, however it tries to change its stripes, is still run by a bunch of liberal hacks who have an agenda. Chuck Baldwin edits the editorial page--flaming liberal. Patrick Lalley edits the "Voices" page--raging liberal. Dave Kranz is their chief political "reporter"--and everyone knows how he has been exposed for 30 years of being the Democrats' chief booster. Peter Harriman is a big enviro and is well-known to be in love with Stephanie. I know many of these hacks from 15 years of working in South Dakota politics and business. The younger people I don't really know, but as long as Baldwin/Lalley/Kranz/Harriman are in power the Argus will be a flaming liberal rag. Why can't the Argus be honest about that? At least I'd have some respect for them then. But when they pretend to be objective, it's hard not to laugh. Few people are that stupid.
Anonymous said…
"the Argus ... should not be able to do and say anything it wants. It ... has an obligation to report news in a straightforward, honest, unbiased way. I repeat, it has that OBLIGATION."

Why, because you said so?

The Argus can say what it wants, nonnie's nonsense notwithstanding. If you don't like it, start your own newspaper. Start a blog. Start preaching on the street corner.

The Argus has no obligation to do anything at all. Least of all because nonnie said so.

If the Argus had a conservative slant, would you be making the same argument? I doubt it.
Anonymous said…
Newspapers are supposed to objectively and accurately report the news. The same applies with feature stories; if the subject has a certain opinion, that is fine, but the writer's opinion should never show. The same is true with headlines.

Of course the need for objectivity does not apply with opinions. That is why it is called an opinion.

It is amazing, however, how some people can read something into a story that is not there. There's not much reporters and editors can do about that except to grin and bear it.
You should be able to appreciate that pp. The same thing happens to you!
Anonymous said…
I cancelled my subscription on Friday. After 15 years of reading that most biased, stupid paper, I just couldn't handle it anymore. I, too, wish some competition would move into town.
nonnie said…
anonymous 6:09. I'm not alone in saying that a paper should present the news in an objective fashion. Most people are of this opinion.

If they want to voice opinions, use the blogs; they are biased one way or another but don't pretend to be anything else.

And yes, that goes if they are slanted conservative or liberal, unless they state that up front.
brandon turnbow said…
"I agree the last line goes to far. However, it is what a creationism bill would do to the state and the GOP I find more troubling. Creationism is a faith-based belief. Evolution is science fact. Facts should be taught in school."

Actually, for those of you who are unclear, evolution is not fact it is a theory. A theory that some people say was theorized by Charles Darwin, who actually denounced evolution before his death in 1882.

The commander should understand that there are people out there who are incapable of differentiating between news and opinion.

Also, Mr. Newquist should understand that the general public has no clue about his "play/film" and would not understand that a quote from that "play/film" makes the article an opinion piece.

I do agree that the Argus has the right to print what they want, but print news as news and opinion as opinion. I think we can all agree that "ooze" is inappropriate whether left or right.

As for all of you who are anonymous; are you afraid that someone will find out what your opinion is? Is that because you are ashamed of your leftist views? Maybe you should allow your convictions about your views to affect the way you conduct yourselves in public.
Sal said…
One that is now clear is that the unveiling of the "new Argus" has been an unmitigated disaster. Fact is: the more people know about the clowns who run the Argus the more there will be canceling their subscription. The thing about the Argus, however, is that they really do think they are that important, that they are the moral arbiters of South Dakota. Who elected them? Who says what the opine matters? Who cares about the constant crusades. They do, of course, so you HAVE to also. Telling people they don't have to read the paper is like saying "you don't like oxygen, then don't breathe it!" The fact is that people need information and news. But people in South Dakota are saddled with a HORRIBLE newspaper. It cheapens our state and short changes the good people of the state. For you youngsters, by the way, you aren't so clever--we have know the Argus sucks since 1980.
Anonymous said…
boo hoo hoo. Whine, whine, whine.

You want creationism for your kids? Go to church.
Anonymous said…
Scientific fact? If you believe that, you've made a monkey out of yourself.
Anonymous said…
How the world came to be, how "we" came to be, influences EVERYTHING about how we live, what we believe, and how we raise our families.

When people are taught that we just "banged" in here or "flopped" out of the water---both ideas that actually have NO FACTS to back them and incredibly long odds as to even a remote possiblity of ever happening--they must exercise GREAT faith to believe that it really happened that way. There is absolutely NO hard evidence that it did.

It also takes faith to believe that an Intelligent Being created everything.

It is a wonderful thing to believe that a loving and amazing God planned you from the very foundations of the earth, that He knows your name, and has a great plan for your life. It takes faith to believe it.

All the ideas take faith to believe that they happened--each can point to "evidence" that seems to conform to that idea but none of them can be proven. Each person must decide what they believe.

Evolution is not a theory. It is not provable so it does not meet the criteria for a theory--it is only an idea that becomes more outdated every year as the "evidence" that was used to establish it is disproven by thinking scientist. It will someday join "the earth is flat." Remember all the "evidence" that supported that idea?

It is sad that the Argus has been taken over by unethical owners. When it was established it had such a wonderful history of unbias and complete news reporting.
Anonymous said…
12:13 AM - Calling people unethical is quite a strong statement. Would you think the owners of the Argus were unethical if the articles agreed with what YOU believe?
Anonymous said…
What is with all the complaining about the Argus being a left wing conspiracy? They give Leslee Unruh, Roger Hunt and Mike Rounds a pass all the time. They let them all have a free platform to spread their version of reality and never challenge what they claim. Even when its well known to be false.
Anonymous said…
anon 7:40,

Would you like some Kool-aid?
Anonymous said…
Anon 10:50

It must be nice to have such a superiortiy complex that not only do you think you're smarter than the rest of the world, but you're even willing to bet your immortality on it.
Anonymous said…
Although I wouldn't have presented my opinion quite like 10:50 did, he does have a point. I learned about creationism in church, Sunday School and Bible School - not in the classroom. That is where my children learned it too, and it's where my grandchildren are learning it now.
I know scientists who have a strong faith in God so they must have found a way to resolve the problem.

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