Last week, I lambasted the new owner/publisher Chuck Champion of The Signal for his inappropriate public outburst at a Santa Clarita City Council meeting. In the video of his appearance, he made untrue and unfounded accusations against City Councilman Bill Maranda. That sparked a response from Doug Sutton of the Santa Clarita Gazette claiming that the accusations by Champion were true. Bull crap. There is no evidence, despite repeated requests for hard proof, that there was any inappropriateness at the Latino Chamber before it merged with the SCV Chamber of Commerce.

That strikes at the heart of what a great local newspaper should be doing, investigating and getting the indisputable proof of an issue. That is why I wrote in my last column; The Signal under Ruth and Tony Newhall was the eyes and ears of our valley. But that is no longer the case especially with the unprofessionalism and shoddy reporting under the current management.

Case in point, now that Bruce Fortine and his wife Gloria Mercado-Fortine are in bed with Chuck Champion and his paper, they are going after their political rivals. The newspaper reported on a new water district bill that was sponsored by State Senator Scott Wilk yet left Wilk’s name out of the piece completely. There was also a poorly drawn political cartoon poking at Linda Storli who beat out Gloria Mercado-Fortine in a Hart School District Board election. Look for more of this kind of crap politics from the dying Signal “newspaper.” Its irrelevance further galvanized by the involvement of the Fortines, desperate to revive a tattered political career after a string of humiliating loses. Their tactics now will only backfire through arrogance and dishonesty.   

A community newspaper should be reporting both sides of the issues and not taking sides in that reporting. Sure, prior to an election they should make endorsements in their editorial/opinion section but that should represent what’s best for the community and not prevent balanced coverage of the leading candidates. Somehow that will not be happening in The Signal based on recent events, which is an affront to our community and those running for office.

Here is what I want in a community newspaper:

  • Balanced Local Reporting
  • Solid Investigative reporting; correct facts, documentation to support accusations before they are splashed into the public.
  • Opinions that represent both sides of the issue; not white-washed B.S. to support the papers leanings.  
  • An entertainment section that covers everything in SCV, not just those events that are strong-armed into advertising with so-called advertorials.
  • A community newspaper that has a solid reputation, that is respected in the community as a go to source for reliable information.

 The Signal no longer has any of these qualities and that is evident by the behavior of the new publisher and the antics going on in the daily editions of that newspaper. Do you honestly believe that I will buy The Signal to get day-old national and world news? Of course not, anyone can get national and world news from a multitude of sources as it is happening. A community newspaper has no business stuffing their pages with Associated Press and U.S.A. Today news stories. Sure, have one or two that are relevant to our valley but using that to make up for the fact that you’re not investing in reporters to cover the local news is a joke.

As I mentioned in a previous column, the only reason that The Signal is still publishing is because of the revenue from legal notices. But once legislation is introduced in Sacramento to allow legal notices to enter the twenty-first century and be published through any number of digital distribution platforms, that will be the final death knell to The Signal. The paper will blow away like a tumbleweed across Sierra Highway in Canyon Country—meandering, lost, and directionless.

Dave Bossert—Commentary

Dave Bossert is a community volunteer who serves on several boards and councils. His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.