Miller loses on media 'racism' claim

Brian Miller.

Evanston Alderman Brian Miller, 9th Ward, failed to win support from any other City Council members Monday in an effort to deny payment for a city ad campaign on Evanston Now over Miller's claim the site is racist.

Miller, who is white, will be leaving the council next month after finishing third in last month's five-way primary to become Evanston's next mayor.

During the campaign he told residents at a mayoral forum that he was being "crucified by the media."

The City Council did vote to hold a discussion at a Rules Committee meeting next month about its advertising policies, and, at the request of Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, to also consider its policies regarding what banks to use to hold city funds.

The top vote-getter in the mayoral primary, Steve Hagerty, is on the board of directors of Evanston-based First Bank & Trust, which now holds various city deposits.

Miller received support for his claims from three speakers at public comment. The speakers, all white women, claimed that Evanston Now publishes racist stories and permits residents to post racist comments.

Evanston Now publisher Bill Smith said the claims by Miller and the women are false and defamatory.

Evanston Now has explored a range of social issues in the community in its stories in a fact-based and carefully-researched manner, Smith said.

It welcomes the perspectives of people with a wide range of views in its comment section, he added, but it has clear guidelines banning racist remarks and other forms of speech that a reasonable person would consider offensive.

A review of city bills since the start of 2016 indicates that, including items approved Monday, the city has spent on advertising during that time $7,035 with the Evanston RoundTable, $2,378 with the Chicago Tribune and $2,365 with Evanston Now.

It's also spent nearly $18,000 with three local printing and mailing services.

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Comments

I have read EvanstonNow for a

I have read EvanstonNow for a number of years and I have never seen any evidence that it is rascist.  I thought that EvanstonNow did a good job on its recent analysis of crime and traffic stops in Evanston.  That is what the press is suppose to do.  Provide in-depth analysis in addition to basic reporting.  

Agree

I've also been reading EvanstonNow for several years now and do not recall a single instance which would support Alderman Miller's claim. Did he provide any examples? Seems to be just baseless ad hominem attacks...

Go away, Brian Miller!

Brian Miller, What is wrong with you?  First, your ridiculous position that bicycles should not be required to have headlights at night.  Now, your utterly false and unproven claim that Evanston Now is racist.  (I have been reading Evanston Now for at least 10 years and have not identified a single instance of "racist" reporting.)  Many in Evanston are delighted that you lost the mayoral primary and will soon be going away.

Brian, the voters spoke, you lost

What other attacks on First Amendment Rights is Bike Light Miller planning?  Would he allow someone to censor his hysterical Facebook rants?  You lost, big, now go away....

Trumpian

He should learn from the master and win an election, THEN attack the media

Who Wrote This Coverage?

This article is credited to Evanston Now, and refers to Bill Smith in third person. Who attended the City Council meeting and wrote this article? Would the Journalist please stand up and take credit?

Congratulations ...

Hi Suzanne,

Congratulations on being the first of Brian Miller's fans to submit a comment following his post at 1:42 p.m. this afternoon on Facebook urging you all to deluge Evanston Now with comments supporting him.

As for your question, of course I wrote the story. Not taking a byline is a journalistic convention for handling the relatively uncommon situation in which a reporter has to quote himself in a story. It allows the writer to avoid the awkward issue of whether to refer to him- or herself in the first or third person.

Evanston Now does not have the financial luxury of being able to assign multiple reporters to the City Council beat. So, yes, I was there last night.

-- Bill

I am not sure why you feel I

I am not sure why you feel I am a "Brian Miller fan." I am merely trying to understand how you operate your Evanston Now site. But thank you for answering my question. 

For what it's worth, in many

For what it's worth, in many years of reading EN, I have never felt this site was anything less than transparent in its reporting.
For those without a facebook account, there is a screenshot of Brian Miller's facebook post here:

Last names have been blurred where appropriate.

When I read Brian Millers

When I read Brian Millers comments on his facebook page regarding EvanstonNow I wonder if we are reading the same publication. In general I find that EvanstonNow provides a lot of factual information including graphs and statistics to backup some of the stories. I find this quite useful. What is shocking to me is the extreme nature of Millers charges which seems totally over the top.

A typical low-effort tactic

Silencing groups of people by calling them "racist" is a such an easy, common tactic for the far left these days*, especially when those people express views or opinions they don't like, don't agree with, or don't want others to hear. Just cry "racist!" and you get a free pass to put the other side on the defensive without needing to follow up with any actual evidence, exactly as Brian posted on Facebook (above).

Evanston Now is one of the few Evanston-oriented sites that attracts (or allows) many moderate or conservative-leaning voices in the discussions area and whose fellow discussion members don't immediately shout them down en-mass. This surely contributed to Brian Miller's screech of "racist": It's the easiest way to shut down free speech and discussion, the quick buzzword to discredit a website that dares to allow its members to discuss opinions contrary to his own rhetoric.

* Agree or disagree with his policies, remember no one called President Trump a racist until he ran for office against Democrats. ( https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?q=trump%20racist )

UM, except for the DOJ, who

UM, except for the DOJ, who in fact sued Trump for being a racist. Whatever you want to say about Brian Miller, calling someone a racist is not a calling card of the left. Trump was widely known and thought of as a racist, long before he ran for office.

LOL!! Bill Smith--what kind

LOL!! Bill Smith--what kind of 'journalist' are you anyway? And what "journalistic convention" are you talking about? Like you have actual journalistic expertise to share with the rest of us? Why not just admit you're little more than a small-time opinion writer with limited intellect and curiosity and dispense with any pretense to objective reporting--because when you get to the sad, lonely place that you've clearly come to, where you must now represent yourself in the THIRD person in order to quote YOURSELF, well, there's not much further you can descend without coming off as pathetic and strange. I can only imagine what these conversations with yourself must be like. Just my opinion, but at least "I" can admit to having one!

Baseless allegations, assumptions and personal attacks

Let's review your post:

"Small-time opinion writer"

"Limited intellect and curiosity"

"[Y]ou get to the sad, lonely place that you've clearly come to"

"[N]ot much further you can descend without coming off as pathetic and strange."

"I can only imagine what these conversations with yourself must be like."

Stephanie, this is what you wrote. Because you clearly do not like the reporting here, please feel free to start your own news outlet, blog, chat, etc.

But if you believe that what you wrote is appropriate as mature, thoughtful adult commentary, maybe you should reconsider.  No one wants to read the baseless allegations that you made.  Your assumptions about another person's character, motives and experience are not appreciated.  Your writing is a heavy with personal attacks. 

It is certainly not something for you to be proud of.  Yet, despite its heavy criticism of this news outlet and the owner and reporter involved, it was posted for all to see.  Perhaps that is another factor against your baseless assertions--your criticism, as baseless as it is, was posted here.

I'll keep reading here and a lot of other places for my information. 

Funny how obsessed the critics are with the site

The thing that I find mildly amusing is simply how obsessed the critics like Miller are with this site. When you look at their Facebook posts, it is clear that they are checking this site constantly, looking for something to confirm their biases.  (They are also boosting page views here that help the site earn money!)

 

Dictatorial

Dear Bill Smith, 

Regardless of your penchant to report in a racist manner or not, what is evident from your responses to criticism is that you are not open to discussion or change, a common characteristic of our new administration in this country and an indication of the dictatorial direction certain people find acceptable at this time.

Who's Trump-like?

Hi Deborah,

Funny you should mention that. I find the actions of the people defaming me with false charges of racism and trying to destroy my locally-owned small business with an advertiser boycott to be very much like the behavior of the Trumpistas peddling their "fake news" and "the media is the enemy of the American people" conceits.

At least a small subset of self-described "progressives" in this town have reacted to the shock of the new administration by deciding to adopt its tactics.

(And in case you were wondering, I voted for Hillary.)

-- Bill

Small News Outlets

Bill Smith's practices in quoting himself are aligned with what many smaller, local publications do. You'd know that if you consumed news from more small news sources.

This headline and reporting are not accurate.

This headline and reporting are not accurate. No other City Council member said they agreed or disagreed with Brain Miller’s and others (including my own) assertion that Evanston Now’s reporting is problematic. They voted to discuss this issue further. They voted to pay for services rendered which is not an opinion on whether or not the reporting is divisive. This is another example of why the reporting on this site is a problem.

Sorry ...

Hi Heather,

Sorry, but you came in second in the derby to respond to Brian's call to action.

You're also wrong in your characterization of my story. But it's a free country and you're entitled to think whatever you want.

-- Bill

Evanston Now - racist??

Evanston Now always has great reporting 

Racist?? Nonsense  

Steve Hagerty is a trustee at a bank where City funds are deposited?

Does he benefit financially as a trustee? Or is the bank a non-profit?

First Bank

Hi PJ,

First Bank & Trust is a for-profit business. Don't have data at hand on the compensation of board members, but barring information to the contrary, it's probably logical to assume that the position is paid.

-- Bill

Evidence Please

I read many of the articles in Evanston Now and I've seen nothing that suggests to me that it is racist.    To those of you who think so: please provide links to specific articles and explain exactly why you think the articles are racist.   I'm interested in hearing your views, but vague generalizations will not convince me.

More information

In response to the request for an explanation of what makes the articles divisive, see the Daily Northwestern article on this same Council meeting. It explains the concerns about Evanston Now's reporting, and illustrates the concerns through its headline and article that are a contrast to this article. 

https://dailynorthwestern.com/2017/03/14/city/city-to-re-evaluate-advertising-policies-following-petition/

Questions for Mr. Smith

A few questions for Mr. Smith.  Do you block people's posts who you don't agree with?  Do you post under anonymous aliases? Do you filter comments you don't like? Thank you for your time.

Comment moderation

Hi REM,

You asked about our comment moderation.

It's based on our comment policy. I encourage you, and everyone else who wished to comment on Evanston Now, to read it.

Unfortunately the standards we have, like the one that says "Don't post anything a reasonable person would consider offensive, abusive or hate speech," are not self-executing.

It requires a judgment call about each submission that may be edgy -- which side of the line is it on?

So, I end up sometimes blocking comments that I might agree with and sometimes blocking comments that I don't agree with -- if they're phrased in a way that I consider to be offensive or are otherwise unacceptable.

I generally don't "like" comments that violate our guidelines, because I believe they coarsen the dialogue on the site.

On the other hand, I sometimes do post an edgy comment if I think it makes a larger point -- perhaps one not intended by the person who submitted it. I might direct your attention to this one, as an illustration.

In the nearly 11 years I've run Evanston Now I have never posted comments other than under my own name.

Unfortunately there is no way to prove that without exposing the identities of all those who do choose to post anonymously, so I have to live with the false claims from doubters.

I should note that if you see a story on Evanston Now that carries "Evanston Now" as its byline, there's a good chance that either I wrote it or had a hand in editing it. This frequently happens with items that started as press releases that I decided needed some significant editing.

Most commonly this is done because I haven't done a sufficient amount of original reporting on the piece to feel that it merits having my byline. But occasionally it also happens when a situation arises, as it did on the story you're responding to, where I need to quote myself in the story.

-- Bill

While I understand the

While I understand the frustration with Evanston Now's coverage of the Lawrence Crosby incident (I believe that's where this all began) and think that those criticisms are valid, the organized effort against the publication has reached absurd proportions. I'm disturbed by the conspiratorial tone that this has taken on and that some of the key organizers against EN appear to be at least in part motivated by personal animus against the paper, particularly Ald. Brian Miller. It's also worth noting that the anti-EN movement is being led predominately by white people; this is not to say that there aren't people of color who are upset by EN's coverage, but more to point out that the anti-EN group has chosen to center white perspectives over those of people of color in their advocacy. It just seems like this backlash began with a legitimate concern about racial bias, but has now taken on a purely conspiratorial and political character; I'm disappointed that Brian Miller has chosen to indulge this group and has comported himself without grace or professionalism in light of his campaign loss.

Support for Evanston Now

I am troubled about the portrayal of Evanston Now as a "racist" news site and wonder about the motivation of Brian Miller and the people who seem to be bent on reputationally and economically damaging the site and the owner, BIll Smith. 

Evanston Now doesn't always get it 100% right. However, Evanston Now does benefit the community by publicising civic, community and sporting events and writers coverage of news events are generally factually correct. 

I find when people in Evanston use the term  "racist", many times they are trying to shut down those who may not agree with them or have some other agenda. This is unforttunate as I believe Evanston to be an incredibly compassionate and caring community. I think the misuse of the word, "racist" diminishes its meaning.  

I will continue to read and support Evanston Now and hope the integrity and quality of its journalism continues to grow.