Thursday, November 15, 2012

WPTZ "reporting" found sorely lacking

What follows are criticisms of the WPTZ's F-35 reports (all emphasis mine). No, I will not provide a link to them.
I have not watched the reports nor will I. At this point in the game I simply cannot listen to retreaded, purposefully misleading bullshit anymore. Nearly 3 years into this debate and the USAF, the VTANG and their various minions are once again trotting out the idea that F-35 is actually QUIETER than the F-16. I can't  even respond to that statement. It's like Todd Akin with    the "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” thing. UNREAL.
In a way it is satisfying to watch these people try to distance themselves from their own MILLION DOLLAR EIS but it is also deeply upsetting. Aside from the local impacts this hot mess of a boondoggle would have, the lack of transparency and fairness and the fundamental  assault on representative democracy that this spectacle represents...well...it gets darker and sadder by the day.
So, I extend heartfelt kudos to these fine folks who have been watching and doing due diligence by holding WPTZ's feet to the fire. It takes a village.

"As the report correctly stated, the F-16 noise on the runway had afterburner on. But as any of the colonels you interviewed could tell you, the afterburner is turned off when the F-16 reaches an altitude of about 300 feet. That height is reached while the F-16 is still over the airport. The F-16 noise on takeoff with afterburner on therefore primarily affects people in South Burlington. The use of the afterburner for the F-16 but not for the F-35 explains why the Air Force draft environmental impact statement (EIS) shows a substantially larger noise profile for the F-16 in South Burlington than for the F-35. But the situation in Winooski is far different, and your report entirely misses this. One can only wonder whether David looked at the multi-million dollar Air Force draft EIS that shows these profiles for the two planes...
When the F-16 flies over Winooski the afterburner is off. The sound people in Winooski hear for the F-16 as it flies over is with afterburner off. That means less noise from the F-16 than the measurement taken by David Schneider when the F-16 afterburner was on. But the F-35 is much louder with afterburner off than the F-16 with afterburner off. Both planes will have afterburner off when they fly over Winooski. What would be appropriate for residents of Winooski is a comparison of the noise from the F-35 with afterburner off with the noise from the F-16 with afterburner off on takeoff when the planes have reached an altitude of about 1000 to 2000 feet as they would be as they fly over Winooski.
The Air Force draft EIS gives that comparison: 94dB for the F-16 and 116dB for the F-35. According to the EIS, that 21dB difference means the F-35 is more than 4 times louder.
David's report does not provide this comparison....A viewer in Winooski is likely to be mislead by David's report if he or she is not aware of the ins and outs of afterburner. Any of the colonels you interviewed could confirm this. "

"I just watched the channel 5 report this evening. Are they joking?? They are trying to determine how loud the F-35A is, and are using a hand-held device, which they repeatedly say is unscientific. How about reading the official USAF multi-million dollar report??? OK, so maybe it's too much to ask investigative reporters to read the entire report. How about then reading just one page. Try page BR4-18. Better yet, there is a chart on the page, so they wouldn't even have to read. All they need to do it look at the numbers.
It would inform them far better than asking a person on the street, or a VTANG pilot who is assessing what he thinks will be the noise. Do we have to remind them of how accurate the VTANG was in assessing the noise of the F-16 after engine changes.
And, for heaven's sake, why is no reporter ever paying attention to what the USAF multi-million official report says about the EFFECT of noise. It's not just about the moment of take-off or landing, or pattern work. 
I'm flabbergasted!"

"balance is not found in either day's report. Particularly where you have three Air Force pilots in uniform on one side, omit mention of the Air Force draft Environmental Impact Statement that has information inconsistent with what those pilots are suggesting, and have City Commissioner Kay Hamilton merely mentioning a marble tile that fell off her fireplace. Her role in the story is miniscule compared to the Colonel. And what she did as City Commissioner on this issue was omitted. Kay Hamilton was actually cast in the role of an ordinary resident, while the Colonel in his uniform was in an authoritative role even though in your report he provided no facts about noise, only that he has not figured anything out yet:
"The military acknowledges the plane has a lot of power, and they are trying to figure out how and when to use that power.
"A certain type of takeoff will make it more tolerable on this particular point on the ground. And a certain type of profile will make it more tolerable," said Col. Arthur Tomassetti, a pilot helping in the development and testing of the F-35. 'I mean within the constraints of being safe, I think you'll find that we will operate the airplane to be the best neighbors as we can be, but we need some time to figure out what that is as well."
In addition, while Mr. Webb was identified as a sound engineer, you only included his comparison data for landing. You omitted his comparison data for takeoff, which is much louder for both planes. What are the numbers in dB that he found for takeoff? Why did you leave his takeoff comparison out? And you characterized his measurements as mere "claims" but you did not cast the speculation of the Colonel about figuring it out in any such way.
Nor did you explain why you went to unscientific measurement instead of using the equipment and measurements taken by Mr. Webb for takeoff.
Nor did you reference the FAA document that says that flight patterns do not work and that the only mitigation for aircraft noise is to remove people and houses from the 65 DNL zone. Why are you omitting mention of that FAA conclusion that stands in stark contrast to the words of the pilot? 
Nor did you mention that you are the reporter who took the joy ride on the F-16 and had such a lovely and exciting time that you did not think to have anyone at all to balance that story--even though 200 affordable homes were being purchased for demolition exclusively because of the F-16, according to information in the Air Force draft EIS. Was the plight of none of those 200 families and their neighbors of zero importance?"

"your suggestion that having the same number of people on either side of the issue makes your presentation of those “sides” balanced is not rational. We very much respect the individuals you mention in the opposition to the basing. But let me get this straight. You will have on one side: Ernie Pomerleau and three Colonels. On the other side you will have: a City Commissioner and a sound engineer from another state, and two concerned residents. This seems balanced to you?
The opposition is led by a 29-year Colonel in the Air Force, who is also an elected official in one of the most significantly-impacted communities. How can a report on the current status of the F-35 debate in Vermont be, in any way balanced, while leaving this perspective out? You aren’t interviewing the woman who is a leader in the opposition? Yes, you have spoken to her before. You have also spoken to the Air Guard before. There are new arguments. Rosanne has been writing rebuttal after rebuttal to proponents’ arguments as they have appeared in local newspapers. The media is ignoring her – refusing to print her responses – and we believe that this is radically irresponsible.
Journalistic integrity demands that, if you are to claim that your report is fair, it must achieve a reasonable level of balance in its presentation of this debate."


"As I have stated to you, it was especially discouraging to see Paul Sands comments which appear to preclude an objective and fair reporting on the issue by WPTZ. I sincerely hope that as the lead reporter on this story, you will pursue to the greatest extent possible a balanced report through your interviewing of the opposition leadership.
Since you are interviewing the top leadership of the Vermont Guard, it would be appropriate to then interview in kind the top leadership of the opposition groups. When I asked who else you had tried to interview from the opposition, the names you stated were not ones who have been actively involved. It does not make sense to have someone who is not as informed on the issues take a leadership role in this debate. Some individuals who would be appropriate counterpoints to VTANG leadership would be members of the various municipalities that will be most affected by the basing, and the leadership of the opposition groups. It does not make journalistic sense to interview General Cray from VTANG as an official spokesperson, and then interview a casual member of the opposition group picked at random who may not have enough information to speak well on the issue...As your story notes, there is much opposition at Eglin Air Force Base to the F35 stealth bombers/fighters. What you may not be aware of is the strong opposition to basings in many other cities and municipalities across the US. Opposition movements similar to Vermont’s can be found in Boise, Idaho and Tucson, Arizona, where one of the leading spokesperson against the basing is Senator John McCain. We are not the only ones who have done the research and understand the negative impact to our cities and populations, and that point is also important to this story.One topic we unfortunately did not discuss about this issue is the incorrect and flawed scoring process which landed Burlington amongst the top preferred sites. It is unclear whether the scoring was intentionally manipulated or a simple error, but based on the amount of civilian residences and population affected, Burlington should not have received the perfect score it did on the environmental impact to our area. It is simple everyday math: 1 + 3 does not equal 10 (see the attached copy of the scoring sheet, description of the flawed scoring, and unfulfilled requests to Senator Sanders).
Our senators and our USAF have refused to release the scoring of the other preferred bases so that we can answer the question honestly – Is Vermont truly the preferred site or was this process flawed? What is the fear of releasing this information if there is nothing to hide? If we are not truly the preferred site based on the scoring, who was responsible for the error, or what military judgment was used to skew the results in favor of the basing?
We hope that you will consider investigating this issue further because this is beginning to reveal itself as a scandal when so much information has been withheld and/or manipulated. You may be aware that the Burlington Free Press, VT Digger, VPR and Seven Days have all conducted numerous pieces of investigative journalism about the F35, including a FOIA request by the BFP which has been denied by the USAF. The obstructionist tactics and lack of transparency on this issue has been alarming and disturbing to experience in what we consider to be a democratic society. WPTZ’s coverage of this issue must strive to tell as complete a story as possible about both sides of this debate as other local media groups have done to combat this informational stonewalling against a free and informed society."

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