Don Rogers: You know from us
The sin for some is that we did not condemn the company’s poll while explaining it last week.
Ironically, everything critics know about the methodology of the survey touting inconceivable support for reopening the Idaho-Maryland Mine came from what they read in The Union, online and in print.
Reminds me of the Second Law of Journalism: People do not want an objective news media. They want the news biased their way.
Seems all but community outlets have gone into overdrive to satisfy them, too, between the woke New York Times and Fox News, which lost a good chunk of viewers while daring a little truth about that election. My mother’s new favorite is OAN.
Apparently, though, it was stunning that a company would frame questions for its own poll claiming support for a controversial project, at least for opponents bent on nary a kind word for the venture.
Of course we would cover this turn in a long trek that hasn’t truly shifted into gear yet. The real starting shot comes with the release of the environmental impact report, due sometime soon.
Meantime, yes, surely the company frames its message and dedicated opponents amplify theirs, along with all kinds of insinuations — some tumbling headlong into each other — about the press.
This is as old as Gutenberg. We know the drill. I’m sure Rise Gold is irked at us airing all the doom-saying Other Voices and letters overstating the impacts and sometimes outright making ’em up, at least in the company’s view.
And some are spitting up their coffee at the very thought of a return to mining the 90% that some believe is still down there, even if such an operation could go perfectly and included a golden lattice to heaven. These folks will brook nothing but condemnation in coverage as well as commentary.
Well, that’s not going to happen. Sorry.
HOW IT WILL GO
Much of what outraged critics have demanded we report on — the CEO’s business history and environmental violations, the scope of the proposed operations, the environmental risks — we have covered, routinely, in a longish line of stories on the twists and turns so far. All that no doubt will come up again.
But I agree there is more to learn, much more.
Community commentators have raised a fair number of questions to explore. What about those finances? How surely can California regulators enforce environmental requirements for the next 80 or so years? How would real estate values around and beyond the mine be affected? What true community benefit exists, and can the county supervisors extract that? What happens, exactly, to Wolf Creek with a million gallons a day more running down it? Does drinking water quality translate to … drinking water?
I have a growing list of stories I know I want our news staff to tackle in more depth. The letters, Other Views, emails, phone calls and I’m sure a lot more conversations in person with the ebbing of this pandemic no doubt will contribute to more coverage ideas. Keep them coming, most definitely.
A warning, though. We’re not The New York Times or Fox. We haven’t judged good from bad pre-coverage and we’re not going to start. Assuredly we’ll make mistakes, and I hope you find them so we can correct them. That’s actual, real life when lay people venture into specialties of others and attempt to understand through a semblance of a scientific method of inquiry.
I’m sure Rise Gold will continue to be irked and dedicated opponents furious at certain stories, say at coverage of a new trial in Canada or pointing out that all this up to 24-hour-a-day truck traffic will run on around a mile of road next to the mine while one load per day gets so far as the freeway, none into downtown.
Maybe the organized opponents focused on the mine will come up with their own survey, framed by their own questions. It’s not difficult, if a bit expensive and time consuming.
Plainly, the owners want to resume gold mining at the Idaho-Maryland, and opponents just as plainly want only to make sure that doesn’t happen.
I suspect there remain plenty of us who just want to know more. That’s the ore we’ll be mining.
Don Rogers is the publisher of the Sierra Sun and The Union, based in Grass Valley. He can be reached at email@example.com or 530-477-4299
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