Street Stories

Weblog of Seattle minister to the homeless Rick Reynolds, Operation Nightwatch

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Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

Caring for human beings seems like the best use of my time, homeless or not.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Space or Editorial Bias? Hmmmmmmm.

My letter to the editor of the Seattle Times (9/27/08) was abriged in an interesting way: They left out the bold print clauses, below:

"The shelter system is over capacity citywide ["Seattle doesn't deserve this pink tent city," Times, Local News, Sept. 24]. On Tuesday, Operation Nightwatch could not find emergency shelter for 24 men and women. Some nights this summer we served more than 200 people, the most in 40 years. Other agencies are reporting similar trends. Given the current economy, things may get worse before they get better.

"So why is there such resistance to homeless people getting organized and camping out on vacant and unused public land? They have not asked for money from the city. Portable toilets and garbage collection are privately provided. Even the industrial neighbors are supporting this move.

"Our 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness developed with input from the City of Seattle says that homeless people "are at immediate personal risk and have a basic right to safety. Interim survival mechanisms -- services focused on keeping people alive ... are necessary until such time that affordable permanent housing is available to all."

"Yes, they're playing politics with the name. It's unfortunate. But the pink tents would keep people alive this winter, with more comfort and dignity
than is being provided by Interstate 5 and Kinnear Park.

"I say, leave them alone."

The net effect of the Times changes:

-- Nightwatch goes from serving as many as 200 people each night to serving 200 for the whole freaking summer.

--eliminates community support for Nickelsville -- an important truth that neighbors at the original location did not complain about the pink tents, some wrote letters of support and resources were there for support services in the short term.

--neglects to inform readers that the City of Seattle helped to write the 10 Year Plan, including the referenced lines about personal security and interim survival strategies.

The question for readers: Were these changes for the sake of space? Or does it reflect editorial bias?

No response from the Seattle Times.


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