Hey, Patch Editors: Fairness Begins at Home

Patch editors have some work to do.

Dear Patch Editors. Fairness and truth begin at home. Patch has the opportunity to be a neutral voice of information during this Northshore election cycle. But it is failing - intentionally or inadvertently. Here is how.

The way Patch is managing the "flyout's" from the right side of the individual profiles in the 2012 Election Guide has the appearance of impropriety:

For example: on my 2012 Profile as a candiate for State Representative from the 18th district, the flyout promotes my Democratic opponent Robyn Gabel, while the flyout on Gabel's promotes the "2012 Election Guide". 

On Republican Tim Wolfe's profile, the flyout promotes Democrate Laura Fine (not even Tim's opponent, while the flyout on Laura Fine promotes "Election 2012: State Representative for the 17th District in Illinois". 

The flyout on Fines opponent, Republican Kyle Frank promotes, once again, Laura Fine, just like the flyout on Wolfe's profile.

Meanwhile, the flyout on Wolfe's Democratic opponent, Rep Jan Schakowsky, promotes "Want To Vote in Illinois? Register By Oct. 9"

Finally, the flyout on Republican Candidate Glen Farkas promotes an article about Democratic Elaine Nekritz, while the flyout on that article promotes the "10th Congressional District Race Narrows".

I have a feeling I could do this all day. But the pattern and the point should be clear: the flyouts on Republican profiles promote a specific Democratic candidate, while the flyouts on Democratic candidates do not promote a Republican candidate. Instead, they promote a more general election source.

As they say, "What's Up With That?" Want to maintain your credibility, Patch? Then you will need to put away any biases and treat candidates equally. This may seem like a trivial thing, but it is not. The fabric of truth is made from patches of fairness, neutrality and honesty.

I don't care that much about political parties: they're called parties because they don't work. But, I do care a great deal about fairness and truth.

Eric LiebermanCandidate, State Rep 18th Districtwww.liebermanforillinois.comejlieberman@gmail.com

P.S. It gets better: as I tried to submit this note to the editors, I was given one of those "enter these two words so we know you are not a computer" boxes. And, what did the flyout on that page point to: Robyn Gabel.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Emily Stone September 23, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Hi Eric, I checked with our technical department after you alerted me to this issue. They looked into it and said the promos are generated strictly by the computer and there's no way to set particular articles to 'fly out' on certain stories. Sorry about that. I know it's not an ideal system, but I can assure you it's not based on editor bias. We'll need to blame the machines for this one. -Emily
Eric Lieberman September 23, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Emily - Thanks for your investigation. But,please don't buy IT's story story that the pattern I observed is random. It is obviously not. Moreover, I'd of thought you'd be embarrassed to give the excuse the "machines are in charge" is not an excuse. As a technologist myself - I ran the software company whose software processed 70% of the world's mail - I have to tell you are getting bamboozled by your IT staff - who take their direction from a higher level than you. If they cared to fix this, or if their superior wanted them to fix it, they would or could. But, they don't care to. Don't let it stop with "Emily we can't do it". That's copping out and buying into a lie. Be forceful. The facts that all these flyouts relate to political issues shows that the algoritm can be manipulated with pointers, filters, etc. Approach someone over you who is in editorial and convince them that this is an editorial issue that needs to be resolved - not an IT issue that computers and IT staff should decide.
r neville September 23, 2012 at 06:05 PM
When is a clear pattern not a pattern? When it favors Cook County Democrats. One day people just might wake-up to his simple fact. You'd think the 600 billion in promised public pension benefits through 2045 would suffice as our alarm clock. But hey, maybe that legislation was also randomly generated and Madigan and Cullerton had nothing to do with it. The real question we face in both cases is: what are we going to do about it?
John September 25, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Eric, thanks for your post and letting us know about this issue--Patch, this needs to be fixed for your own journalistic integrity.
TakeBackIllinois October 02, 2012 at 09:54 PM
The Patch is supported by Ad revenue. I think if you review the AD space for Obama/Biden placed ads, you will get the picture why the Patch has had a definite Democrat bias in its "flyouts", banner placed videos supporting Democrats and anti-Romney Videos and anti-Romney "polls" ( prominently displayed up until last week), lead interviews with Democratic candidates run first, and exceptionally poor reporting, editing ( spelling of candidates names) and coverage of local debates ( ie, Glenn Farkas / Biss). I wrote to a Patch editor about this obvious bias and was told I should talk to the Romney campaign about placing ADs in the Patch, as their answer.


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