THE "LETTERS TO THE EDITOR" ARE BELOW THE EDITORIAL
|“How technology disrupted the truth” |
….That was the headline on an editorial by Katharine Viner, Editor of the Guardian newspaper in Great Britain, on July 12 of this year, after proponents of the ultimately successful vote for the country to leave the European Union after their victory admitted that some of the key facts that won the electorate over were wrong – deliberately wrong – and that some of the promised benefits of leaving the EU just would not happen.
(The person on the Brexit side, in admitting this, calls it an “American-style media approach”. Can we possibly be responsible for this disintegration of truth in media, or is he fooling himself?)
We live in the era of spin and illusion, fiction and deception. We have seen politicians increasingly tell each group they address exactly what that group wants to hear, even if it is the opposite of what they told the last group yesterday.
Spin and propaganda, disrupting in themselves, are now sinking to the level of dignifying unfounded rumors, propagating hate instead of thought, and outright lying with impunity to gain an advantage.
This not only means that “news” these days may not be news at all, but it means that since people think and act based on what they believe to be true – they are being misled into error, and what they believe to be true is shakier and less accurate than it has ever been. This has very disturbing implications for society and even civilization, which relies on all members working for a common good. For that to work there needs to be a common good that’s agreed upon and based on truth, and a willingness to work for it.
We were struck by Editor Viner’s thoughtful and hard-hitting editorial in the Guardian, and have excerpted some of her points in it to present to you for your consideration. You have the promise of THE BEE that we ourselves actually are still concerned with truth and accuracy, and we appreciate that you have made us more widely read than at any time in our 110 year history. We will continue to try to merit your confidence.
And now, complete with her British spelling, here are the words of Guardian Editor Katharine Viner:
Social media has swallowed the news – threatening the funding of public-interest reporting, and ushering in an era when everyone has their own facts. But the consequences go far beyond journalism.
When a fact begins to resemble whatever you feel is true, it becomes very difficult for anyone to tell the difference between facts that are true and “facts” that are not. The “leave” [Brexit] campaign was well aware of this – and took full advantage, safe in the knowledge that the Advertising Standards Authority has no power to police political claims.
A few days after the vote, Arron Banks, Ukip’s largest donor and the main funder of the “Leave.EU” campaign, told the Guardian that his side knew all along that facts would not win the day. “It was taking an American-style media approach,” said Banks. “What they said early on was ‘Facts don’t work’, and that’s it. The ‘remain’ campaign featured fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. It just doesn’t work. You have got to connect with people emotionally. It’s the Trump success.”
It was little surprise that some people were shocked, after the result, to discover that Brexit might have serious consequences and few of the promised benefits. When “facts don’t work”, and voters don’t trust the media, everyone believes in their own “truth” – and the results, as we have just seen, can be devastating.
How did we end up here? And how do we fix it?
Twenty-five years after the first website went online, it is clear that we are living through a period of dizzying transition. . .
Now, we are caught in a series of confusing battles between opposing forces: between truth and falsehood, fact and rumour, kindness and cruelty; between the few and the many, the connected and the alienated; between the open platform of the web as its architects envisioned it and the gated enclosures of Facebook and other social networks; between an informed public and a misguided mob.
What is common to these struggles – and what makes their resolution an urgent matter – is that they all involve the diminishing status of truth. This does not mean that there are no truths. It simply means, as this year has made very clear, that we cannot agree on what those truths are, and when there is no consensus about the truth and no way to achieve it, chaos soon follows.
Increasingly, what counts as a fact is merely a view that someone feels to be true – and technology has made it very easy for these “facts” to circulate with a speed and reach that was unimaginable even a decade ago. . .
In the digital age, it is easier than ever to publish false information, which is quickly shared and taken to be true – as we often see in emergency situations, when news is breaking in real time. To pick one example among many, during the November 2015 Paris terror attacks, rumours quickly spread on social media that the Louvre and Pompidou Centre had been hit, and that François Hollande had suffered a stroke. Trusted news organisations are needed to debunk such tall tales.
Sometimes rumours like these spread out of panic, sometimes out of malice, and sometimes deliberate manipulation, in which a corporation or regime pays people to convey their message. Whatever the motive, falsehoods and facts now spread the same way, through what academics call an “information cascade”. As the legal scholar and online-harassment expert Danielle Citron describes it, “people forward on what others think, even if the information is false, misleading, or incomplete, because they think they have learned something valuable.”
This cycle repeats itself, and before you know it, the cascade has unstoppable momentum. . . Algorithms such as the one that powers Facebook’s news feed are designed to give us more of what they think we want – which means that the version of the world we encounter every day in our own personal stream has been invisibly curated to reinforce our pre-existing beliefs. . .
Facebook, which launched only in 2004, now has 1.6 billion users worldwide. It has become the dominant way for people to find news on the internet – and in fact it is dominant in ways that would have been impossible to imagine in the newspaper era. As Emily Bell has written: “Social media hasn’t just swallowed journalism, it has swallowed everything. It has swallowed political campaigns, banking systems, personal histories, the leisure industry, retail, even government and security.” . . .
In the last few years, many news organisations have steered themselves away from public-interest journalism and toward junk-food news, chasing page views in the vain hope of attracting clicks and advertising (or investment) – but like junk food, you hate yourself when you’ve gorged on it.
The most extreme manifestation of this phenomenon has been the creation of fake news farms, which attract traffic with false reports that are designed to look like real news, and are therefore widely shared on social networks. . .
What is new and significant is that today, rumours and lies are read just as widely as copper-bottomed facts – and often more widely, because they are wilder than reality and more exciting to share. The cynicism of this approach was expressed most nakedly by Neetzan Zimmerman, formerly employed by Gawker as a specialist in high-traffic viral stories. “Nowadays it’s not important if a story’s real,” he said in 2014. “The only thing that really matters is whether people click on it.” Facts, he suggested, are over; they are a relic from the age of the printing press, when readers had no choice. He continued: “If a person is not sharing a news story, it is, at its core, not news.” . . .
In the news feed on your phone, all stories look the same – whether they come from a credible source or not. And, increasingly, otherwise-credible sources are also publishing false, misleading, or deliberately outrageous stories. “Clickbait is king, so newsrooms will uncritically print some of the worst stuff out there, which lends legitimacy to [utter nonsense],” said Brooke Binkowski, an editor at the debunking website “Snopes”, in an interview with the Guardian in April. “Not all newsrooms are like this, but a lot of them are.”
The impact on journalism of the crisis [of its] business model is that, in chasing down cheap clicks at the expense of accuracy and veracity, news organisations undermine the very reason they exist: to find things out and tell readers the truth – to report, report, report. . .
The truth is a struggle. . . But I believe that it is worth fighting for.
Visceral report of Westmoreland crash
Sitting on the porch on S.E. 17th enjoying an evening glass of wine; a crumpled crash and the hollow sound of steel dragged across asphalt. Running neighbors, calls for someone hidden in overturned car, lights on, shattered glass, deployed airbags, no response inside car. Passenger door opens and a women climbs out, blood coming from her hands. Inside the car, coffee cups and kids’ toys strewn about; a car seat hangs from the ceiling. No one else inside. And the driver says she’s OK; she being comforted by our neighbors, waiting for response from the fire dept.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We appreciate this vivid first-hand report of an emergency situation on S.E. 17th a half block south of McLoughlin Boulevard on July 6, and Alden’s photo that went with it. We also encountered a reader in a local restaurant who showed us a different angle on this same crash on his phone; but it was still unclear just how this accident happened. However, in a subsequent e-mail, Mr. Alden added, “This was a one-driver accident, involving high speed, a speed bump, and a parked car (parked car was hit and pushed).”
Eastmoreland preservation plan turns contentious
The Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association is pressing ahead with an effort to designate the neighborhood as a national historic district. This would impact all 1,500 households in Eastmoreland, yet many of our neighbors remain unaware of the details
Under a historic designation, most exterior renovations must undergo a rigorous review process with an additional fee beyond required permits. That would also add delays to a review process that already takes months because Portland’s construction boom has overloaded the city’s Bureau of Development Services.
The ENA argues that a historic designation is necessary to prevent demolitions and protect Eastmoreland’s tree canopy. However, houses still could be demolished under circumstances that include consideration of homeowner’s property rights, project mitigation, and other factors.
As for canopy protection, the biggest threat to our street trees continues to be Dutch elm disease and older elms, maples, and other trees that are falling victim to age and weather. The most effective ways to protect our canopy is to support the ENA inoculation program, volunteer for tree planting with Friends of Trees, and utilize the resources of the city’s Urban Forestry staff to help determine how you can protect your trees.
As a longtime Eastmoreland resident, we urge our neighbors to become more informed about the impact of a historic designation and look beyond the advocacy of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association.
Christopher and Mary Gay Broderick
Although I am a relatively new resident to Eastmoreland, I love my neighborhood, and I object to the way that the Board of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association (ENA Board) has decided, undemocratically, to pursue the designation of Eastmoreland as a historic district at its own peril and above all other objectives. It is being fiscally irresponsible in pursing the designation at a cost that will be forever borne by the homeowners of Eastmoreland.
As stated at the June 2016 ENA Board meeting, the ENA Board committed to spending up to $60,000 for the designation of Eastmoreland as a historic district; but as of May 2016, the ENA had only $56,563 in available funds. At the June 2016 ENA meeting, the ENA Board approved spending $20,000 for the next phase of the historic district effort over the objections of its Treasurer; at the rate that the ENA is spending the neighborhood’s resources for this designation, it will start dipping into its annual reserves because it will no longer have the income to support this misguided effort.
Besides being fiscally imprudent, the ENA Board has decided to pursue the designation in a decidedly undemocratic fashion: At a Board Retreat on April 9, 2016 (and not at the open monthly ENA meetings), the ENA Board legally and contractually bound itself to spending up to $48,564 of the $60,000 allocated for the historic district work for AECOM, the third party contractor the ENA Board has hired to manage the application process. The AECOM contract was signed in April 2016, well before the May 26, 2016 meeting at the Duniway Elementary School, where the ENA Board purports to have gained support for its efforts.
This “support” is particularly noteworthy because, while well attended by ENA Board meeting standards, only 237 people out of over 1,600 homeowners in Eastmoreland attended the meeting; out of 237 people, only 65 people or 27% of the attendees indicated they were in favor of the historic district. There is no doubt that there are neighbors in our community that favor the designation, but citing the meager support of 65 attendees as the basis of its support is misleading. This is not how a democratic process works.
Further, and most importantly, the way that the ENA Board has decided to pursue the designation could divide the people in our community in order to preserve what they deem as the “character of Eastmoreland.” I personally don’t think that the character of a neighborhood is determined by its buildings – it is determined by the homeowners who live and raise their families here, and spend their hard earned money improving their homes as they see fit. As evidenced by what happened in Irvington, this is an issue that can potentially divide a neighborhood; the ENA Board has patronizingly stated that the designation is the “best solution,” and that “opposition is to be expected in any community endeavor.” (Quotes from letter to the Editor by Robert McCullough, Chair of Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association in the July 2016 edition of THE BEE.)
I, and neighbors like me, oppose what is happening because the ENA Board decided to commit the neighborhood’s resources toward a fiscally irresponsible endeavor that isn’t evidenced by broad based support from Eastmoreland homeowners.
What I would like the ENA Board to do is to stop spending the neighborhood’s limited resources on this effort until it garners the broad based support it needs in order to fundamentally change what it means to be a homeowner in Eastmoreland. The ENA Board needs to stop spinning the historic designation as the last available option to save the trees in our neighborhood; it needs to stop the fear mongering and listen to its neighbors.
Housing solution for the homeless…?
I have an idea for a solution for the homeless problem in Portland and Multnomah County. Back East, they have what they call a small house or tiny house movement, in which they build the small houses which are really small, and they don’t cost a lot to build, or cost a lot to sell. My idea is Portland and Multnomah County have a lot of land that they're not using, so let’s test [the idea of] building the tiny houses and put them on land that the county and city are not using. Then have the homeless move in, rather than live on the street or under overpasses or in other bad conditions. The city and county could combine their resources to have a small number these little houses built (maybe by volunteers, who would do the labor to code) and put them on a small piece of land. You would have to have a communal toilet and maybe a small shower if the houses don’t have one. This would give the homeless a place to live, and maybe bring down some of the crime associated with homeless.
There would have to be some rules followed by those living in these tiny houses, and maybe designate one person to oversee those who live on the property. When these people get a job they would have the option to move out into a larger place, or pay a small rental fee to the city or county. If they want to buy the house they would have to move it off the public land or pay a larger fee to keep the house on that property. There would have to be some rules like keeping the property clean and quiet. Other rules would have be made, as the city and county learns what problems may occur. I think people are doing this on the East Coast for people that cannot afford or don't want a large house.
There is a nine-year-old girl in Bremerton, Washington, who has built a small house all by herself, except with the help of her parents and their power tools. The agency that's in charge of coming up with ways to solve the homeless problem could head up building some of little tiny houses. Men could live in 150 sq. ft., and women could live in 200 sq. ft. These tiny houses could give women with or without children some sense of security.
S.E. Nehalem Street, Sellwood
|Rooted in one yard, bearing fruit in another, the fence was considerate of the tree and the neighbors. (Photo courtesy of Renee Kimball)
Thoughtful Sellwood neighbors
Our neighbors Brad and Rhonda recently built a fence between our properties which we have nicknamed “The Ultimate Good-Neighbor Fence”. While they will see very little of the harvest from the prune tree pictured, as it leans way too far into our yard to drop any fruit in theirs, the roots of the tree are almost entirely in their yard. They were so kind to the tree and so considerate of us, they built the fence “around” the tree. We just thought their graciousness should be applauded.
Renee Kimball and Hugo Schulz
Last call for Cleveland High’s 100th
Calling all Commerce-Cleveland High School Alumni! It’s still not too late to join in on some of the upcoming Commerce-Cleveland High School 100th Anniversary celebrations.
The 100th Anniversary Golf Tournament and Auction takes place on August 17. Forms are available online: https://db.tt/Hop8gDs4 – and the School Reunion will be at 7 p.m. on October 15th. For Details and Registration Forms go online: https://db.tt/09RVvQbR.
To commemorate the 100 years of Commerce-Cleveland High Schools a Centennial Edition Yearbook has been assembled, featuring:
- School history from inception to year end 2015
- School activities against the backdrop of national news items
- Pictures of all our Rose Festival Princesses and Queens
- Pictures of all Distinguished Alumni Award Winners with biographies
- Pictures of all members of the Mel Krause Athletic Hall of Fame
- Pictures of most student body presidents
- Pictures of every yearbook cover since Commerce High was founded
To get a look at some excerpts of the book and to know how to order, go online to: https://db.tt/CmKP5luO.
The “Celebrating 100 Years” T-shirts are available for purchase – $12 for sizes S-XL, and $15 for XXL. Your pre-order will help us figure how many to purchase. Please let us know sizes and how many by sending an e-mail to: CCHSAA@gmail.com – or call Nancy Carr at 1-916/202-7132. Extras will be for sale at the high school in “The Mall”, during the August Auction and Golf Tournament, and during all October All-School Reunion weekend events.
For more information about Commerce-Cleveland High School, go online: http://chs-alum.blogspot.com.
CHS Class of 1963
For the last eleven years I have worked in multilingual schools across the world and have become used to hearing people move between languages with ease. I have seen the benefits that multilingual children enjoy as a matter of course: A connection to a wide variety of people; an awareness of different ways of doing things; and a sense of confidence that cannot be measured but can certainly be felt, among others. What I find particularly fascinating, though, is the brain studies that have been done identifying the cognitive benefits to being bilingual.
We are now learning that executive function – things like the ability to focus, make decisions, and switch between tasks – is enhanced in people who are bilingual. A recent study out of the University of Washington has shown heightened activity in related regions of the brain in children as young as eleven months old.
I am proud to live in a city where there are so many bilingual preschools from which families can choose for their children. It’s my hope that preschools around the city will begin to come together and celebrate what we are doing to support our students, and collaborate in raising the level of conversation that we have about preschool amongst ourselves and with our community.
Sprouts Bilingual Preschool
8722 SE 17th Avenue
Letters to the Editor may be submitted via e-mail by clicking HERE.
All letters to the editor are subject to editing for clarity and available space, and all letters become property of THE BEE.
|Evelyn “Babe” Shradle, shown at her newspaper mail-addressing machine in the long-ago office of THE BEE, in Sellwood.
Evelyn “Babe” Schradle
September 9, 1921 – May 25, 2016
Evelyn Palon was born in the family farmhouse in Scio, Oregon, in the mid-Willamette Valley on September 9, 1921, to Ed and Barbara Palon, and received her nickname “Babe” from her two older sisters, Velma and Irene.
During World War II, Babe was employed at Bell Telephone in Portland; after the war, in 1946, she married Milo “Mike” Schradle – her high school sweetheart. They had two children, Michael and Kathy. Mike built the new family a house in Sellwood in 1951.
Evelyn joined the staff of THE BEE (known then as the Sellwood Bee) and worked there for over thirty years, addressing subscription newspapers with a foot operated machine (partially visible in the accompanying photograph), inserting advertisements, tying newspapers in bundles, and delivering the bundles to local businesses for distribution to the public.
She also worked part-time for Product Development Corporation as an administrator involved in telephone book distribution.
Evelyn reluctantly retired at the age of 80, and in her new free time played various games of chance involving cards and dice with friends and relatives, and enjoyed trips to Reno and Oregon casinos. She continued to do her own yardwork and mowed her lawn until age 84, and was a devoted fan of the Portland Trailblazers.
She passed away at the age of 94 on May 25, 2016, in the house that her husband Mike built in 1951. The family suggests donations to Hospice or donations of your time to a worthy cause or person as a way of memorializing her life.
Comments? News tips?
Click here to e-mail us!
Note to readers: At some point, this, our original Internet website, will be replaced at this web address by our new website, as part of the Community Newspapers group. At that time, you will still be able to access this, our original -- and smartphone-friendly -- website, if you save this address: www.ReadTheBee.mobi. You'll still have your choice of which one to visit!
READY TO MOVE ON TO THE COMMUNITY STORIES AND CALENDAR OF EVENTS ON PAGE 4? CLICK HERE!