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An Open Letter to KATU

What happened to you KATU? You used to be cool, sort of....

I used to look at your website and occasionally your newscast, because I felt that it had - for a mainstream, major network affilliate - fairly balanced spin and a relatively small ratio of fear-mongering to actual news.

You would send correspondents to anti-war protests and attempt to talk to all participants - not just the counter-demonstrators - even when none of them wouldn't talk to you at all.

I would often check your website, as your updates were pretty frequent, but they were also relatively free of the sensationalist spin or the fear-meme du jour. You were an antidote to the staunchy conservatism of News 8, Channel 6 and the extreme sleaziness of Fox 12 (Dirty Dining and sex-predator/chi-mo candid camera, anyone?). I could sit through your 11 o'clock transmission and not feel like I needed to scrub down with anti-bacterial soap afterwards.

But somewhere along the line, you crossed fully over to the dark side.

Was it ratings?

Did the minions of the Mouse get to you?

Case in point: Last week you put out the call for tips on "What Makes Portland Weird", ostensibly in response to all the Keep Portland Weird bumperstickers, and - one would think - all the alternative and otherwise eclectic businesses and organizations. I don't know if it was lack of response, or if you got inundated with fake info (P-town's art-culture jam community has a prankster streak a mile wide), or if a sinister memo from the Disney compound simply said to start inserting paranoia into as many features as possible. Whatever the cause, what finally came out was an expose of fear and loathing for anything out of the cozy consensus reality of Retailia Generica:

Often, Portland's art scene, diverse eateries, bicycle culture and tolerant reputation land the Rose City on many Top 10 lists for best places to live in the United States.

But the city also attracts it fair share of undesirable elements, highlighted recently by the arrival of an admitted pedophile, Jack McClellan.

McClellan, 45, while not convicted of any crime, has a Web site where he chronicles his photographic pursuit of young girls in public places and has also detailed his drug use.

McClellan says he is choosing Portland as a place to live because it is a "haven for offbeat people." Reportedly, he is living out of his car and has no current residence after being literally chased out of Washington and California.

Additionally, members of a local Elks lodge discovered they had rented their facility to a racist skinhead organization, who were holding a regional meeting and concert.

Dr. Randy Blazak has studied groups like the skinheads, who are trying to establish an Aryan state in the Northwest that can become independent of the U.S.

He says skinheads, anarchists, war protesters, assisted-suicide supporters, marijuana use advocates and other groups considered on the fringe, but who call Portland home, can hurt the city's reputation. <LINK>

Where the hell did THAT come from? Why put out a call for the kookie weirdness of a city that otherwise prides itself on kookie weirdness and then attempt to triangulate it with pedophiles and skinheads, while simultaneously sliming the activist community?

Also, in a city that loves giving tax breaks to urban business development and the proliferation of spendy clowndominiums, why lump all the abovementioned into one big group of useless eaters who are nibbling at our tax dollars? I thought that was odd.

Even in what should have been a fluffy, high-tech news piece - the one about Google Maps Street View - you can't resist inserting that terrorists can use these images to - I don't know - blow up a McDonalds. You are all to quick to point out that "terrorists.. ...have been suspected of photographing buildings and landmarks for years, but Google has censored images that are sensitive to national security concerns. For example, they blurred out the official Washington, D.C. residence of Vice President Dick Cheney."

What the hell, KATU?

What's got into you?

Is there any room in the big-three network affiliates for news for grownups, instead of bedwetting Jack Bauer worshippers?

Looks like I am going to have to get all my local news from the minions of weirdos and mutants of the underworld. Or make some myself.

Where's my Make Portland Even Weirder sticker?

homepage: homepage: http://chardman.wordpress.com