Friday, April 10, 2009

BeyondChron: Five years of PC progressivism

The progressive website BeyondChron is noting its fifth year of publishing with a peculiar retrospective essay, What We've Learned:

For all the talk about how the Chronicle’s demise will endanger San Francisco by allegedly diminishing resident’s access to local news, the fact---and Chronicle editors have clearly long known this---is that the demand for such news is not broad. And many of the same people are intensely interested in multiple local issues, while the pool of people attracted to a news source focusing on such issues does not grow...

One of the great advantages of Internet journalism is that we get a good sense of which articles are actually read; in contrast, one knows the circulation of a print publication but, absent word of mouth, not how much of its subscriber base paid any attention to a particular piece. Some of what we’ve learned about reader interest surprises us, and helps explain why we run the stories we do.

This is an odd claim for an internet publication to make. Take for example the SF Chronicle's website, where we can now witness how interested its readers are in specific articles and issues by reading the readers' comments. When C.W. Nevius writes about quality-of-life issues in San Francisco or Rachel Gordon writes about traffic, Critical Mass, or the Bicycle Plan, they often get hundreds of comments.

BeyondChron festoons its home page with an endorsement by the SF Bay Guardian: "Best Local Website," which isn't surprising, since the political perspective of the two publications is nearly identical and entirely predictable.

Except for a few pieces by Randy Shaw disagreeing with city progressives on city homeless policy, there hasn't been a dimesworth of difference in the coverage of BeyondChron and the Guardian on these local issues: the underground garage in Golden Gate Park; the San Francisco Peoples' Organization, which, as I predicted, quickly disappeared down the city's memory hole; the injunction against the city's Bicycle Plan, which Casey Mills, as per prog doctrine, called a "totally unnecessary roadblock in the path of the Bike Coalition's normal work," implying that the SF Bicycle Coalition is a city agency whose operation was being hindered by obstructionists; the flakey attempt at boycotting Muni back in 2005 when it raised fares a mere 25 cents to deal with a $57 million deficit; Supervisor Mirkarimi's legislation regulating the pot clubs, where Shaw seemed to be channeling Chris Daly's untenable rejectionist perspective; 

BeyondChron played the race card against those concerned about illegal immigration; Chris Daly's dog-and-pony show question time proposal, which city voters finally laid to rest by rejecting it; like the Guardian, BeyondChron had nothing to say about the successful attempt by the Islamic bullyboys to intimidate the Western media after the Danish Mohammed cartoons; Paul Hogarth endorsed Supervisor Mirkarimi's shameful surrender to UC on its ripoff of the extension property, which had been zoned for "public use" for 150 years; and the Market/Octavia Plan, which rezones thousands of properties in the heart of the city to encourage population density---including 40-story highrises at Market and Van Ness---is all about "affordable housing," not about the fashionable but false "transit corridors" theory, which tells us the city can build as much housing as it wants anywhere near a major Muni line. And of course BeyondChron endorsed Chris Daly's deal with developers on the Rincon Hill luxury highrise condos, which he claimed, implausibly, was somehow a great victory for progressive housing policy in San Francisco.

BeyondChron thinks there aren't a lot of people interested in local issues, but it might learn otherwise if it published perspectives outside the narrow, "progressive" political parameters that are already precisely delineated by the Bay Guardian. BeyondChron thinks it's going beyond the SF Chronicle, but it's not even going beyond the utterly predictable Bay Guardian.

My critique of BeyondChron on its first anniversary.

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At 2:38 AM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

You know, Rob, sometimes it's worthwhile to point out when you're right, just to prove the old adage about a broken clock, and this is a salient example.

BeyondChron is a rag. It would be just one among a sea of otherwise non-notable rags except for the good work its progenitor Randy Shaw has done soaking up city money to house the homeless in his hotels, while his employees are on the take from crack dealers to roam the very halls of the same hotels, and while labor relations with said employees range from strained to abysmal.

There's a nasty stench coming from the THC, and until something is done about the systemic problems at Randy's hotels, his blog lacks credibility, even if it's generally on the right side of most issues.

I will now return to my regularly-scheduled debunking of your nonsense.

At 8:54 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

My "nonsense"? You've successfully debunked nothing so far. Even when you ostensibly agree with me you're wrong. One the one hand you say that I'm "right" about BeyondChron, while on the other you assert that "its generally on the right side of most issues." That's exactly what I claim to be untrue with a long list of specific issues that BeyondChron is wrong about---just like the Bay Guardian. The moral of the story is that there's no intelligent source of progressive opinion, either online or offline, in San Francisco.

Your distaste for BeyondChron is based on the alleged moral deficiencies of Randy Shaw, which is completely beside the point when evaluating BeyondChron. Shaw could be a monster on every level, and he could still theoretically put out a first-class publication.

At 3:08 PM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

Shaw's not a monster; he's just a hypocrite (like yourself), which I tend to find irksome, being the font of true wisdom that I fashion myself to be.

Rob, I rightly identify your nonsense as "nonsense" because it's grounded in emotion rather than fact, and you refuse to ever listen to any actual fact or legitimate experience anyone brings up to counter it, having the appearance (I imagine) of a petulant child with his fingers in his ears going "NEENER NEENER".

Your emotionally-rooted campaign against, basically, any changes at all in San Francisco (though targeted generally at anything that deprioritizes private car transport or promotes dense development) lumbers on in spite of any argument to the contrary, whether it come from traffic engineers, planners, or actual cyclists (as opposed to the mythical ones whose entire purpose for riding is apparently rooted in a desire for both speed/thrill and to "stick it to the man").

When someone quotes the experts, you pull an Everyman shtick that would make Sarah Palin blush and point out that We Needn't Just Listen to Those Hoity-Toity Experts. When someone points out common sense, you refer to mythical experts (who don't exist) that refute their real-life experience. Whenever anyone points out a contradiction in your arguments, you change the subject. Whenever anyone points out how emotional you're getting, you don't publish the comment.

Actually, I'd rather argue with Randy Shaw. At least he has some experience to bring to the table that isn't rooted in a combination of hatred, NIMBYism, and "get off my damn lawn" sentimentality.

At 6:05 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Why are Shaw and I "hypocrites"? Shaw deals with the lower end of the housing market and leases housing units to the city as it deals with the homeless issue. What exactly is he doing that's wrong?

You talk about my opinions as being "grounded in emotion rather than fact," but take a look at your comment: it doesn't contain a single fact. My blog posts always link a newspaper article, another website, or government documents. The comments

I got on so-called experts on the bike issue were not particularly convincing. If you think you made a salient point on any of these exchanges, you're going to have to refresh my memory.

In what sense am I against "any changes in San Francisco"? Wrong again, Mike! What I particularly don't like is overlarge, grandiose projects favored by a lot of city progressives, who seem to think they are visionaries.

You are a sloppy writer who has done zero homework. My posts on the bike issue---which is really all you care about---display a detailed familiarity with the Bicycle Plan, the draft EIR on the Plan, and the successful litigation against the city, along with the city studies on bicyle counts and accidents. You don't seem to think you have to know anything. You're comment is nothing but rhetoric.

At 9:08 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"You talk about my opinions as being "grounded in emotion rather than fact," but take a look at your comment: it doesn't contain a single fact. My blog posts always link a newspaper article, another website, or government documents."

Because we all know that if something is on the web, and can be linked to - then it must be a fact!

Not to mention that linking to a "Newspaper Article" does not equate to linking to a "fact" when the article in question is an opinion column a la Nevius/Saunders/Olbermann/Maddow/whomever...

As for your "facts" regarding cycling, it has been repeatedly pointed out that you are using stale data, when this is pointed out to you, as Michael says you either revert to your "experience" or you change the subject.

Fire up your ad hominem attack Rob, I dares ya..

At 9:02 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Sometimes a link can be to "facts," and sometimes it's not. My point is that Michael's comment didn't have a single fact, much like your windbag comments. Of course in your own mind, you've routed me in our exchanges on cycling, but only bike nuts believe that, which is being a True Believer is all about. What "stale data" are you referring to? I must have missed your slam-dunk argument based on irrefutable data.


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