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‘Berkeley Lite,’ hidden calories

Friday October 26, 2001


Maybe I didn’t make myself clear the last time I voiced my opinion about this journalism you call ‘Berkeley Lite.’ My first issue is simple. You write a ‘Prospective’ or editorial, sprinkling a few facts, use opinions and innuendo, then print it on the front page leaving the impression that it’s news. Fact. Not opinion. You show a great deal of concern in regard to implied abuses of power; what are your thoughts in regard to abuse of the power of the press? Second, you failed to point out that the ‘executive meeting’ you referred to was the superintendent’s employee evaluation; a personnel issue, that would need to be held in closed session. The previous accusations (yours) you referred to didn’t deserve a response. That’s why the so called ‘apologists’ didn’t bother to question their accuracy. While I’m on the subject of accuracy, you complained that the closed meeting wasn’t wheelchair accessible. Since none of the board use a wheelchair, what was your point? And about that comment about the board’s apologists. I am offended. No one is asking you to “sit down and shut up” (10/19/2001). My complaint there, is that you seem to take such great pleasure in bad news. Especially when it involves the Berkeley schools. I have been an active parent in our district for six years. I have been involved at the district level for the past four years, and while I’ve been no one’s apologist, I do not feel that I need to apologize for my actions in standing up to defend the board whenever I have felt they needed support. And when I have felt the need, I didn’t hesitate to tell them when I thought they were making mistakes. I don’t see the value in trying to publicly embarrass people when solid advise is called for, nor have I hesitated to speak out when it’s needed. Our district isn’t perfect, but if we don’t work together, it never will be. If you have concerns about the Brown Act, use your article to print parts of it. Not in this mean spirited way that you have so far, but in a helpful way so that we can all learn together. I can assure you that many of the groups meeting in Berkeley could use that help. It doesn’t make them bad. They are just overworked volunteers (like the board) who could always use any help they could get. Instead of a hard time. Have you noticed any of the good things that Michelle Lawrence has accomplished in her short time here? I ask because I haven’t seen that coverage. 

Why would anyone want to run for the School Board if this is what they can expect for their honest efforts? I am surely having second thoughts. 

I have learned through years of activism, that progress depends on our working together. I know that you have your role as the objective media, but you are a Berkeley paper. Self proclaimed. When you report on our mistakes, our problems, or our kids; don’t enjoy our pain. You can feel it with us while you report the news objectively and with dignity. If you can’t do that, then you should read the Planet’s first year of copy; you’ll see a paper that cared about the community they called their own. If you still don’t care, then change your name to the Star or the Inquirer. Not a community newspaper.  

Mark A. Coplan  

Willard Parent