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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ace Reporter of the Day: Paul Shukovsky

posted by on September 11 at 9:47 AM

And they said it couldn’t be done: The PI’s Paul Shukovsky went and got a quote from someone on the other side of the pot issue—someone who thinks grow-op busts are a waste of time and police resources—and added that quote to what had been, when it originally appeared online yesterday, a rote piece of drug-war propaganda masquerading as journalism.

Shukovsky’s revised piece isn’t an anti-drug-war screed and it isn’t advocacy journalism calling for the legalization of pot. Instead it’s the kind of journalism daily papers take pride in delivering on other issues but typically fail to deliver when it comes to stories about drug busts. With the addition of a quote from a board member of NORML—Seattle defense attorney Jeff Steinborn—the PI and Shukovsky finally acknowledge the fact that there are two sides to this issue. By including Steinborn’s comments, the PI let its readers know that not just police officers, federal prosecutors, and DEA agents have valid opinions about pot and the war on drugs.

Now was that so hard?

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Wow... Any chance of the Stranger adopting this crazy "isn’t advocacy journalism" there are two sides every issue policy?

Or does that only apply to daily papers reporting on drug enforcement stories related to marijuana?

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | September 11, 2008 10:05 AM

I agree with you about this issue, Dan, but one thing bothers me. How is this different than the attempts to find balance in political reporting? As in "McCain is lying, but Obama also partially misleads people" type of balance. If you insist on balance on this issue, don't you have to insist on it in political reporting too?

Posted by F | September 11, 2008 10:06 AM

@1: Nope. We don't do that kind of journalism, and never have, and have no interest in that kind of journalism. You can be fair, of course, and honest, without being in denial about your POV, biases, etc.

Thank you for playing Slog.

Posted by Dan Savage | September 11, 2008 10:12 AM


Why then expect (demand?) that kind of journalism from the PI?

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | September 11, 2008 10:20 AM

I wrote a letter to the PI after the last stupid yay-war-on-drugs story and told them that they should be holding themselves to The Stranger's standard! Because, from reading the Stranger/Slog, I knew that there were two sides to this story. I also knew which side the Stranger writers were on, which is helpful in making up my own mind.

If I were just reading the PI, I wouldn't have known there were two sides, and only in finding that out elsewhere can I deduce what their bias is.

I much prefer the additional information and clarity, personally.

Posted by violet_dagrinder | September 11, 2008 10:24 AM


As do I. But I find that additional information and clarity valuable on other topics also. And it's not consistently provided here (or, for that matter, in many other places). I concur with @2.

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | September 11, 2008 10:30 AM

We're only asking the PI to do the job it, and other dailies, praise themselves for doing. We're asking them to hold themselves to their own professed standards, not to ours.

Posted by Dan Savage | September 11, 2008 10:35 AM


I don't think the Slog is particularly balanced. But I tend to think that the Stranger's overall news coverage is. . . well, imperfect, but much better than most. Which is saying a lot. We are talking about a free weekly run by a sex advice columnist. The fact that I learn more from them than I do from the PI. . . either the Stranger should be proud, or the PI should be extremely embarrassed, or, you know, both.

Posted by violet_dagrinder | September 11, 2008 10:35 AM


So this means that when Eli or Erica write a well-ballanced and thought-provoking news story we should call them out on it for not being childish, immature and one sided?


Posted by Jeff | September 11, 2008 11:08 AM


I concur.

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | September 11, 2008 11:09 AM

@9: Absolutely.

Posted by Dan Savage | September 11, 2008 11:30 AM

At least Shukovsky can finally get a good night's sleep knowing he's made the potheads happy.

Posted by whatevernevermind | September 11, 2008 4:06 PM

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