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Jim Mullin: On the Record

February 20, 2006

To: Leslie Griffy, staff writer
The Tribune

From: Jim Mullin, former editor
San Luis Obispo New Times

Leslie: I received your telephone message and am pretty sure I know what you want to discuss. Any questions concerning New Times personnel matters must be directed to the paper’s general manager, Bob Rucker. But I will say this, and it’s on the record:

New Times published an article that caused an uproar throughout San Luis Obispo County. Hundreds of people called, visited, and wrote to express their extreme displeasure with our story “Meth Made Easy.” This public outcry, which continued for the better part of two weeks, was the subject of extensive coverage on television, radio, and even in the weekly Paso Robles Press. We’ve been told the Tribune also received many letters regarding the commotion.

Yet not one word about any of this appeared in the Tribune. Why did the paper choose to disregard such a significant local story? Was the Tribune serving the best interests of its readers by keeping them ignorant of the controversy? After all, the protest was rooted in a social problem of great public interest: the availability and use of methamphetamine. Could the answer be that New Times is a competitor in the marketplace? Would that fact provide a legitimate journalistic rationale for pretending the controversy did not exist?

Many thousands of copies of that February 2 issue were stolen by individuals who, in their roles as self-appointed community censors, decided that others should not have the opportunity to read the story and make their own judgments as to its merits. Yet we heard nothing from the Tribune about this brazen abridgement of New Times’s First Amendment right to publish the story and the public’s right to read it. Does the Tribune condone the confiscation of publications that contain controversial material? Would the Tribune sanction the theft of its own papers under similar circumstances?

The Tribune, it seems, has arrived much too late for this party. That should embarrass its editors and reporters, but not as much as the paper’s shameful silence in the face of actions eerily and frighteningly reminiscent of book-burning in Nazi Germany. A Constitutional right in which the Tribune has a vital interest was trampled in its own back yard, and what was the response? Silence.


Jim Mullin
Miami Beach, Florida

P.S. Leslie, would you care to wager whether your editors will print that?

  1. Rich from Paso
    February 21, 2006 at 8:58 pm

    Wow! First, since Dave didn’t editorize before or after, I will assume it is genuine. Having said that, it is amazing how people will bare the claws and turn on their own when their backs are in a corner. To compare the Trib to nazi censorship for not doing a story on the controversy and to accuse the Trib of opportunism during the controversy is telling. A LOCAL editor, as Dave has said numerous times, would have been in touch with the public sentiments and the competative nature of the news business in the county BEFORE the articles were ever published. To start namecalling and coutneraccusing the Trib after you had resigned is petty. Dave has done a great job of pointing out the errie similarities between the Miami New Times controversies and the SLO county controversies. The New Times and SLO county are better off without the tele-carpetbagger Jim Mulin.

  2. Chuck from Atascadero
    February 22, 2006 at 5:11 am

    I agree with Rich. Nobody is going to miss this scumbag. An editor who lives in Miami?????? Whatever happened to LOCAL media?????

  3. Mike Green
    February 23, 2006 at 4:33 am

    To chuck, I’m from Los Osos, I have a lot of issues with the Trib
    In my opinion, the “Local media” could use some work

  4. Anonymous
    February 23, 2006 at 2:56 pm

    People pulling and destroying the New Times from the distribution points was wrong, IMHO. Mullin’s point was well taken about silence from the Tribune. Maybe comparison to a fascist state is over the top, but then again…

  5. Anonymous
    February 23, 2006 at 2:57 pm

    People pulling and destroying the New Times from the distribution points was wrong, IMHO. Mullin’s point was well taken about silence from the Tribune. Maybe comparison to a fascist state is over the top, but then again…

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