I am an aspiring journalist at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and the son of District 7 Board of Supervisors candidate F.X. Crowley. As an avid newspaper reader from an early age, I have had the good fortune of growing up in San Francisco.
Though I have always paid attention to city politics in the news, this year’s election means more to me as my dad is running for supervisor to represent the district in which he grew up, and a city he loves and has served admirably throughout his career.
This week, the first article that appeared on my “F.X. Crowley” Google search was from San Francisco Examiner columnist Melissa Griffin, titled “Ex-associate isn’t in FX Crowley’s XX-chromosome faclub” (Oct. 25). I decided to look past the fact that fan club is actually two words and check out the article.
As a journalist, I was disappointed by the contents of the article. As F.X.’s son, I was disheartened by the misrepresentation of the facts.
It is understandable to report on Sandy Reed’s situation, but the manner in which it was reported is destructive and harmful.
The Society of Professional Journalists outlines a code of ethics that includes four principles: 1) Seek truth and report it; 2) Minimize harm; 3) Be accountable; 4) Be independent. Unfortunately, Griffin failed to adhere to these standards.
The article violated the first principle by implying that Reed’s suit is the result of the actions of F.X. Crowley, while in actuality her suit dealt more specifically with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 16.
The article violated the second principle because an average reader might misinterpret this article and determine that during his stint with Local 16, F.X. failed to recruit female members. This might discourage female voters from voting for my father, when in truth, he increased female membership and opportunities for women at Local 16.
The third principle was violated because this article lacks any and all accountability. In the days of Joseph McCarthy and a 12-hour news cycle, failing to allow F.X. to respond to the claim that Reed will not be among his female supporters might have been considered acceptable if The San Francisco Examiner’s article was pressing. However, technology has changed, F.X. is approachable, and I guarantee that he would have responded to the article and provided valuable fact-checking, which is something that the newspaper failed to do. To borrow a phrase from Benjamin Franklin, “If you present both sides of an argument, the truth will win out.” Unfortunately, the truth cannot win out in The San Francisco Examiner’s article.
A small percentage of San Franciscans still value The San Francisco Examiner as a viable news outlet. I know I used to.
Sadly, if the residents and potential voters of District 7 who do value The San Francisco Examiner read this, they might get the wrong idea of who F.X. Crowley really is. F.X. is a champion of working people and a supporter of women’s rights in the workplace. And if the newspaper had bothered to ask people at Local 16, especially women, if they agreed with me, it would have learned that they do. But no one asked them, and no one asked F.X.
In my studies of historical journalism, The San Francisco Examiner repeatedly appears under the category of yellow journalism. Though William Randolph Hearst is long gone and The San Francisco Examiner has had well over 100 years to rectify its reputation, this article suggests that there is still a ways to go.
I may come across as harsh, but I want to ensure that San Franciscans have the opportunity to see an objective viewpoint of my dad. I know my dad is a great leader, and I want the voters to know the same.