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Why Use “Public Source” When You Can Get it Right?

gentry class - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW

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Surprise: Journalism lives at the Washington County Observer-Reporter; so why are they using Public Source as a source when they do so well on their own? 

I did a post earlier this week about Washington County Observer-Reporter story from last month that I described as a “poster child for how not to do journalism.” The newspaper used a reporter from PublicSource, funded by several special interest foundations dedicated to opposing natural gas development in Pennsylvania, to speculate gas drilling could be the source of radioactivity in Ten Mile Creek, while ignoring overwhelming evidence to the contrary from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

There appears, however, to be another side to the Observer-Reporter because they just ran an excellent piece on the same subject by one of their own reporters, raising the obvious question; if they can do that what are they doing hanging with Public Source?

PublicSource

Ten Mile Creek

The new story, authored by Mike Jones, their Greene County Bureau Chief, is entitled “Ten Mile Creek Testing Results Expected Next Month” is a just the facts, down the middle piece of journalism that doesn’t speculate or try to implicitly blame fracking. It indicates, in fact, the possible role of mine drainage, but, even then, avoids trying to pin the blame.

A follow-up story by Emily Petsko then offered the following:

A West Virginia University research group found levels of radioactivity that were barely present – and well below federal regulations for safe drinking water – in the waterway that feeds into the Monongahela River. The results released this week starkly contrasted with earlier tests conducted by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

These stories are exactly what we’d hope to get from any journalists, proving journalism is, in fact, not yet dead at the Observer-Reporter. Needless to say, that’s a good thing, but it raises an interesting question; what the hell is the Observer-Reporter doing hanging with PublicSource, an advocacy group masquerading as a news outlet, when it can do real journalism on its own?

PublicSource, as we noted in our earlier story, is, like State Impact, part of the fractivist echo chamber, “where extremely wealthy special interest foundations such as the Heinz Endowments and Colcom Foundation (two funders of multiple fractivist activities) fund the instigators, fund the reporting on the instigators, fund the groups acting on the reporting and then fund the reporting of the action taken by the activist groups.”

So, why would the Observer-Reporter tarnish its image and its own demonstrated capacity to do journalism by publishing blatantly false, misleading fractivist pap from PublicSource? There’s no clear answer, but it’s possible the newspaper believes real journalism has to be balanced with the political correct. It’s a common sickness among the modern media and it needs to be confronted, which was the point of our earlier story, of course. Nevertheless, when the paper does well, it’s only fair to give them their due. Att-a-boy, Mike Jones. Att-a-girl, Emily Petsko, Att-a-paper, Observer-Reporter. Now, drop that biased and distorted fractivist crap from Public Source, will you?

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