Why Beyond Chron is boring
With the mentality of a PC commissar, Beyond Chron's Randy Shaw is ill-suited to be a political editor. As I've pointed out before, Shaw apparently thinks he's obligated to "monitor"---that is, filter and reject---letters to the editor: "We not only do not have the staff to monitor such comments, but believe that the public gains little from exposure to potentially uninformed and factually inaccurate quick takes on articles."
Nothing Shaw has ever written demonstrates any aptitude for political journalism or the backbone to take the heat for a controversial position, which is why Beyond Chron can be boring to read. Why, for example, Shaw thinks his or his contributors' ideas on national political issues are of interest is a puzzle, since there are so many easily available online sources that are obviously superior. Oddly, Shaw has even written that his readers aren't interested in local issues, but the reality is that Shaw himself apparently isn't particularly interested in local issues, which is a shame, since that leaves the field mostly to the mainstream media. The fact that so many of the letters to the editor Shaw does publish---always on national and international issues---are from out of town should tell him he's on the wrong track.
I rarely bother to send letters to BeyondChron, since I was evidently blackballed years ago. (My critique of Beyond Chron on their fifth anniversary probably didn't help.) But I couldn't resist responding to Michael Bernick's odd piece the other day on jobs and California's high-speed rail project:
Building the pyramids in ancient Egypt created a lot of jobs, too, but the utility of the structures for most Egyptians is doubtful. The high-speed rail project must be judged on its merits as a transportation system and as an infrastructure investment for all Californians. As such it not only doesn't make sense, it would actually threaten the financial well-being of the state. Fortunately, there's no money---federal, state, local---for this luxury rail system for the rich, as the peer review panel pointed out yesterday.
Pretty tame stuff by my standards---or by anyone's standards, for that matter---but it didn't make the cut over at PC Central. It's not the contents of the letter that bother Shaw. I've been banned for my past sins against his lame notion of intellectual propriety. For one thing, I didn't show any sensitivity to the Islamic bullyboys who intimidated the media so effectively after the Danish cartoons and then at Comedy Central a few years ago. Not a word on either controversy was heard over at Beyond Chron. As an editor if you can't even bring yourself to defend free speech against that kind of intimidation, you only show that you're not fit for the job (Neither is Bruce Brugmann, for that matter).
Of course Shaw doesn't rely on Beyond Chron to make a living. The Tenderloin Housing Clinic is his main move, which is why his thoughts on Care Not Cash and housing the homeless are of more interest than his writing on other subjects.