Helping Our Peninsula's Environment


Censored - by the Monterey Herald

Letters, Commentaries & Op-Eds

The Monterey County Herald is considered the newspaper of record for our Monterey Peninsula. So when it keeps vital information away from its readers - that is a serious matter.

The Monterey Herald has a long tradition of censoring important facts that disagree with their opinions. It has not always been so bad. When Col. Griffin owned the Herald as recently as the 1960s he took pains to see that our community had robust debate on local controversies.

Unfortunately since then we have had to endure systematic censorship by a long line of arrogant and imperious "letter editors" who didn't want certain facts interfering with their opinions. They include Dennis Sharp, Reg Henry, David McIntyre, Laurel Shackelford and currently Royal Calkins.

Scott Brown (interim Herald letter editor circa 2002), Mila McBain and Jennifer Pittman are the few shining exceptions who did not censor letters or edit important facts out before printing them.

Calkins however, may be the worst yet. While he writes fairly good editorials that are often easy to agree with, his volcanic temper and serious ad hominem attacks seem to be related to his anti-professional blanket censorship for letter writers who can command facts which refute or undermine his opinions. (Yes, this is the same Calkins who has written Op-Eds begging for letters to the editor.)

While all newspapers have the full authority to refuse to print any letter or commentary, Censorship is at its worst when vital information affecting huge decisions that will affect a community for decades or generations are unreported and letters and commentaries are refused.

This is precisely the case in 2010 with the Herald and the Water Management District's "Right-Sized" Desalination plant at Sand City. City Editor Joe Livernois has refused to write about it (even though it is now the highest priority for our Water management District) - and their Letter Censor, Royal Calkins, refuses to allow letters or commentaries about it.

The Herald may now be unique in having inspiring an ongoing project to expose their censorship. The New York Times inspired "Lies of Our Times" (LOOT) which was published between Jan 1990 and Dec 1994. LOOT won the Orwell Award from the National Council of Teachers of English in1995. Unfortunately it is no longer published.

Send us your Censored Letter to the Editor, Commentary or Op-Ed so we can post it here.

July 16, 2009 The Herald's Letter Censor Royal Calkins is playing really dirty now. Has no intention to print HOPE's commentary on a faster, cheaper solution to our Peninsula Water crisis, but misleads us into believing he might. "I'll read it in the next day or so." Of course Calkins fails to call. We only find out that he will never publish anything by HOPE when I call and insist on knowing why he won't print it. "I'll never print anything from you." he admits. (This explains why the Herald has not printed a HOPE letter or commentary in the past 5 years - the duration of Calkins tenure.)

Aug 30, 2007 Herald Biases article and omits crucial Facts on large Conference Center Meeting on Aerial Spraying of Chemicals on Peninsula Cities. They Fail to respond to HOPE letter on this.

April 16, 2004 Commentary on Pebble Beach Project endorsed by 7 Public Interest groups.

Laurel Shackelford rejected this commentary on April 26 because it was "Too informational. Not a whole lot of opinion." The third reason was breathtaking "It repeats much of what was already reported."

The Herald repeatedly resisted publishing a story on the issue of the agencies massive rejection of the Pebble Beach project. It took at least ten phone calls from influential people after we held a press conference and hand delivered the letters before they decided to run a small story on it.

This commentary was officially endorsed by 7 groups and sent in on Tuesday April 13th. I tried to call several times. Finally she picked up the phone on April 26. She sat silently after we exchanged hellos. She did not offer that she had read the commentary at all.

Herald Letter to Editor Censorship Procedures under Royal Calkins (2005 - until the Herald goes out of business in 2010 or 2011) --

There is no process. If Calkins doesn't like you or your facts - you don't get published - period. He won't meet with you, and if he picks up the phone he will get furious and use ad hominem attacks.


Herald Letter to Editor Censorship Procedures under Laurel Shackelford (Feb 2001 to April 2004) --

1. You send letter or Op-Ed.
2. You hear nothing.
3. You have to call her, but do not leave a message as she does not often return calls.
4. When you finally reach her by phone, she "never got it." 
5. You have to offer to send it again. She will not ask you to.
6. Repeat steps 1 through 5 (sometimes 3 or even 4 times)
7. Refuses to inform author of refusal decision.  (See #3)

8. Finally, she refuses to use it because --

a) it provides facts she just won't believe and refuses to verify even when you give references to source documents (But isn't it amusing how press releases filled with false and misleading information from Pebble Beach Co and government agencies get printed without any verification), 

b) "too much information" (too many facts), or 

c) not enough opinion.

(Oh and by the way, she will not let you use bullet points or subheadings. )

So fire up your opinions based on superficial facts, but keep relevant facts to yourself. We don't want all that inconvenient information confusing readers.

"Greed Has No Bounds" Water District & Developers (Herald) April 11, 2003


"Herald's Environmental News Censorship," (Herald) Sept 8, 1995

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This Page Last Updated January 14, 2010

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