Fact-Checking the "PRT Boondoggle" Blog
A project of the PRT NewsCenter

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Propagandist-TC Daily Planet love affair kaput

Remember when Ken Avidor the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist was wearing the vaunted mantle of Transportation Editor of the Twin Cities Daily Planet? Yes, he got a lot of mileage out of it for a while, using the title to gain credibility in pushing his disinformation -- such as here, here and here.

Then in June we noticed it had been quite some time since he had written anything for TCDP. His name disappeared from the masthead.* A series of articles on light rail appeared on TCDP -- not written by him, but by one Jane McClure. (At that time a Minneapolis source said of McClure, "If TC Daily Planet has Jane McClure, they are starting to gain a lot of credibility in my book. She is great... really informative without being biased.")

After some period of silence, the gloves came off and, suddenly, Avidor attacked his old mates -- in a long post at Lloydletta's Nooz (sic) he implies that TCDP editor Mary Turck pulled and changed an article about a proposed biomass plant due to a complaint from the office of Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.

The background on the biomass plant is pretty irrelevant to our present purpose -- he obfuscates with a lot of smoke about the project's history, with zero linkage to the revision issue. What is notable is that Avidor manages to knit himself the start of a conspiracy theory: it seems a law firm involved in the project was also involved in the Avidor-hated 35W access project. Yes, believe it or not, a law firm has more than one client.

For her part, Turck responded that she was exercising this thing known as editorial judgment, and actually made the contested article longer -- and also corrected basic factual errors. Which is funny, because it means Avidor is on Turck's case partly because she fixed mistakes, something he has never done (for instance).

Phew! I hate it when mommy and daddy fight.

What caused the relationship to sour? Avidor's own account of the breakup makes it clear that original TCDP editor Craig Cox made two fatal mistakes: he asked Avidor to write for free but paid others and, in an article for Harvard's Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Cox failed to mention Avidor by name. The ever-prickly Ken also took exception with Cox's opinion that amateur journalists may not have the time or training to always provide quality and reliable reporting.
Cox and Turck had better be careful; Avidor might give them the Zoe Naylor treatment (see Nov. 5).

I got me a Chrysler as big as a Ken Avidor, it's about to set sail
* Though at this time Avidor's commercial Roadkill Bill website is still listed in the Transportation section under "Helpful Links."

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