Media Watch: That’s not what “balance” means
Under publisher N. Christian Anderson The Third, even the Oregonian’s business reporters have become partisans, whose orders are apparently to embarrass Democratic leaders at every opportunity while giving away credibility to Republicans.
The latest example comes from tech reporter Mike Rogoway. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi recently visited Portland to meet with technology startup leaders, joined by Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici. Their goal was to find ways that Congress can help tech companies thrive.
But here’s how Rogoway described the visit:
Politicians love technology.
Not iPads, or Twitter, or Facebook – though, to be sure, politicians use all those. No, it’s technology companies that politicos really lust after.
Tech companies – startups in particular – are full of economic upside, new ideas and the promise of tomorrow. Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Google turned startups into cultural icons, celebrities of the business world that seem to create jobs out of thin air.
So tech entrepreneurs are irresistible to office seekers, and to office-holders, who love to associate their political brands with that kind of excitement.
Get it? “Politicians” (by which he means “Democratic politicians”) lust greedily after the perceived success and star power of tech companies. They’re not interested in—heck, they probably don’t even understand—the industry they’re throwing themselves at, they just want to co-opt their popularity. Like drooling tweens trying to get backstage at a Jonas Brothers concert.
To underline the fact that he’s talking just about Democrats here, Rogoway throws in the fact that Portland tech companies have also been recently courted by President Obama and Senators Ron Wyden and Maria Cantwell.
That level of political bias masquerading as journalism isn’t enough for today’s Oregonian, so they doubled down, following the Pelosi piece by calling up Oregon GOP Chair Allen Alley in the name of “balance.”
So in search of a little balance, I called Oregon GOP Chairman Allen Alley for the view from the other side of the aisle. "Everybody jumps to the front of the line when there's a little of flicker of success," Alley joked Wednesday from Tampa, where he's preparing for the Republican National Convention.
Before Alley was a candidate for the GOP's gubernatorial nomination, and before he was the Republican Party's state chair, he was founder and CEO of Pixelworks, one of the last Oregon tech companies to hold an IPO (it raised $58 million 12 years ago).
Success among Portland's new generation of startups is extremely heartening, Alley said, and it's impressive that they've established themselves without the big investments that an earlier generation of startup required.
The partisan storyline here is so cliché that I hate to even repeat it, but it’s obvious that Anderson want readers to see Democrats as starstruck dolts with no business experience, and Republicans as the only ones who understand the industry.
That’s not balance; it’s transparent partisanship. It’s also become par for the course at Anderson’s Oregonian. A balanced piece might have pointed out that under Alley’s watch, Pixelworks tanked in a big way, leading to his resignation as CEO in 2006. Under Alley, the company managed to take peak income of $22 million in 2004 and turn that into a loss of $42.6 million the next year by being late with new products. The next year, just before Alley’s departure, saw even more meteoric losses.
The result was big layoffs and outsourcing of Pixelworks employees to San Jose and Shanghai. As of 2010, only 12 of the company’s 230 employees worked at the company’s Tualatin headquarters.
So while the Oregonian is busy propping up Alley—who is rumored to be considering a run for governor in 2014—the rest of us should remember that his alleged business record is one of pretty deep failure. But that won’t stop the state’s newspaper of record from ignoring those inconvenient facts and signing his praises… all in the name of “balance,” of course.