Saturday, July 22, 2017

Online Fortuna Fire Comments Spark Controversy

Posted By on Sat, Jul 22, 2017 at 10:49 AM

  • Fortuna Fire Department Website
  • Capt. Lon Winburn
A local fire chief and reporter are in a bit of a standoff over comments left on a blog about the fatal fire that took the life of Martha Ann Robertson in the early hours of July 11. Robertson, 76, was a resident of Royal Crest Mobile Estates in Fortuna, CA and apparently perished due to smoke inhalation after firefighters were unable to rescue her from her mobile home, which was allegedly packed with belongings, making entry and exploration difficult. The cause of the fire is still under investigation but it is believed to have been accidental.

The comments on a local news blog, Redheaded Blackbelt, have caused a mini-controversy after Fortuna Fire Chief Lon Winburn asked that site’s owner, editor and reporter, Kym Kemp, to remove his press release regarding the fire. In an email sent July 13 (two days after the fire), Winburn wrote Kemp the following:

“Please remove our media release regarding the fire in Royal Crest from your site, we do not want any association with the comments that are being allowed to be posted.”

The comments Winburn referenced appear to be a collection of readers speculating on why the fire department was unable to save Robertson, questions as to why the crew did not have proper water pressure at the park and accusations of incompetence directed at Winburn. This kind of amateur sleuthing in comment forums is nothing new, of course, but Winburn took it to heart.

“I was not happy that she allows what was posted to be posted,” he told the Journal. “It’s because of the effect it has on my firefighters. My firefighters busted their butts to get into that house. When you have a fatality, it really hurts.”

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Country Music Singer Tries to Mainstream Humboldt Cannabis

Posted By on Tue, Jun 27, 2017 at 4:00 PM

Continuing his now decades-long attempt to strum along to the zeitgeist of popular culture, country music singer Toby Keith recently released a song titled "Wacky Tobaccy," and, guess what? Yeah, it mentions Humboldt County.

"You got your Mexican and Jamaican with those buds of blue/
Humboldt County and Hydroponic too/
Okeechobee Purple from down in the South and/
that ol' stuff your uncle smokes 'ill give you cotton mouth," Keith drawls, releasing a mouthful of illustrated smoke.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pitch and Pour

Posted By on Thu, Apr 20, 2017 at 4:15 PM

  • Thinkstock
Meeting a journalist in a dark parking garage is so Nixon era.

Besides, it's far less creepy to meet up with the Journal's editors over a beverage. On Thursday, April 27 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. share your hot leads and a cold beer with news editor Thadeus Greenson and arts and features editor Jennifer Fumiko Cahill at the Eureka Inn's Palm Lounge. It's a chance to tell us what's on your mind regarding local stories, issues and people in the paper and out in the community — no trench coat required.  

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Talking Transparency

Posted By on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 4:04 PM

  • Access Humboldt
Sunshine Week, that celebration of journalistic freedom and the public's right to know, may be well over, but you can keep the spirit going. If you missed Access Humboldt’s March 20 “Transparency and Privacy Roundtable” hosted by Sean McLaughlin and featuring Shahid Buttar of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Eureka Police Chief Andy Mills and the Journal's own news editor Thadeus Greenson, no worries. You can watch it right here. Look at us, sharing footage just like that.

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Friday, April 7, 2017

Drumroll for CNPA Awards

Posted By on Fri, Apr 7, 2017 at 1:10 PM


Kind of a long drumroll, in fact. The California Newspaper Publishers Association has announced its finalists for first or second place awards in its 2016 Better Newspapers Contest and the North Coast Journal is up for seven. But we won't know the final results until next month. But while we're waiting, here is the list of work the judges have chosen:

Best Investigative Reporting: "The Case of the Missing $5 Million," by Linda Stansberry
Non-Profile Feature Story: "Sanity on Trial," by Thadeus Greenson
Best Columns: from Week in Weed, "Not Even From Around Here" and "Stop It," by Linda Stansberry
Best Arts & Entertainment Coverage: staff
Environmental Reporting: "Until the Sun Sets," by Thadeus Greenson
Profile Feature Story: "Prove Them Wrong," by Thadeus Greenson
Informational Graphic: "The Chase," by Mile Eggleston

We're proud of the staff named here, of course (shout out to regular arts and entertainment freelancers John J. Bennett, Pat Bitton, Gabrielle Gopinath, David Jervis, Andy Powell), as well as the entire Journal staff who make their work possible and help them tell these stories. Go team.

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Kids are More Than Alright

Posted By on Sat, Mar 25, 2017 at 2:04 PM

The Humboldt State University Department of Journalism and Mass Communication just found out a story its investigative reporting students authored for the Journal placed in the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Awards for Region 11, meaning it was one of the best pieces of student journalism published in California, Hawaii, Arizona and Nevada last year.

The piece, “Homeless State University,” was the JournaI’s Dec. 9 cover story and the culmination of a semester’s worth of work for department chair and NCJ columnist Marcy Burstiner’s investigative reporting class. It explored how Humboldt’s housing crunch impacts students, leaving some homeless while trying to get their education.

If we do say so ourselves, the piece was fantastic and worthy of some regional — and national — recognition. If you haven’t read it already, we encourage you to go back and read the piece and wish the students well. If they finish first in the April regionals in San Diego, they’ll move on to nationals.

No matter how they finish, we’ll take this opportunity to again thank Burstiner and students Sam Armanino (our current rockstar editorial intern), Alexander Badger, Andrew Butler, Brian Cohen, Jessica Ernst, Sarah Fasi, Jonathan Gomez, Ashley Groze, Caitlyn Kaifer, Jen Kelly, Christian Lara, Roxana Moreno, Geneva Peppars, Vanessa Rodriguez and Esther Trevizo for their outstanding work.

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

That Dam Breitbart Story

Posted By on Sat, Feb 25, 2017 at 11:39 AM

Irongate Dam on the upper Klamath River. - FILE
  • File
  • Irongate Dam on the upper Klamath River.
If you read a Breitbart News story earlier this month about the Klamath River, you’d be excused for thinking those of us who live along the river are doomed to die in watery graves as soon as the largest dam removal project in U.S. history is complete.

You’d also be very wrong, both for taking a Breitbart story at face value and for thinking dam removal will have any substantial impact on flooding along the Klamath River.

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Humboldt County Fair Board Responds to Enterprise Settlement

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2017 at 3:32 PM

Humboldt County Fair Association General Manager Richard Conway issued a statement today in response to questions about a legal settlement the association paid to the Ferndale Enterprise, covered in this week's Journal.

In his statement, Conway blames the HCFA's failure last April to provide Titus with a document requested under the California Public Records Act on an "oversight" made because the association had already sent a "multitude" of other documents. Conway says once the error was realized, the association immediately provided Titus with the documents. He accuses Titus of intending to "inflict hardship upon the fair" by suing the HCFA despite having received the documents in question.

Titus and her lawyer, Paul Nicholas Boylan, dispute this interpretation of events. Titus says she asked for the fair's 2015 Statement of Operations twice before stating that she would "seek judicial remedy."

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Journal News Editor Wins Freedom of Information Award

Posted By on Sat, Feb 11, 2017 at 10:51 AM

  • Thadeus Greenson

The Society of Professional Journalists Northern California officially announced yesterday that Thadeus Greenson, the Journal's news editor, won a James Madison Freedom of Information Award. It's an award Caroline Titus of the Ferndale Enterprise took home in 2016, and the Journal's then staff writer and editor Hank Sims and Emily Gurnon won in 2005.

Greenson is being recognized for his "years long battle with the city of Eureka over the release of police camera footage of an arrest." (That arrest by then Eureka Police Sgt. Adam Laird and the departmental drama that followed it are, coincidentally, the subject of next week's cover story on stands Wednesday.) The end result of Greenson and the Journal's pursuit of the video, in Humboldt County Superior Court and then in the California First District Court of Appeals, was a state precedent-setting opinion that kept the city — and any others in California — from treating police camera footage as confidential officer personnel records.

Particularly in our current climate, with heightened awareness of police misconduct and the potential abuses of power, that ruling in favor of transparency is a win for journalists throughout the state, the public and those police departments working toward trust in the communities they protect. We could not be more proud of Greenson's work on this story and in every issue of the Journal.

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Monday, January 23, 2017

The Eureka Women's March through an Indigenous Lens

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 4:16 PM

A still from WIlbur's film. - MATIKA WILBUR
  • Matika Wilbur
  • A still from WIlbur's film.

Videographer and photographer Matika Wilbur created a short film documenting this Saturday's march. Wilbur, who is Tulalip and Swinomish, is visiting the Karuk and Hupa Nations as part of her year-long project in which she visits all 105 tribes of California. More information is available at

Wilbur sent the Journal this statement:

"I've had the opportunity to stand in solidarity all over the county with indigenous women from Standing Rock to Chicago to D.C. to the desert warmth of Phoenix and I'm proud to be an era that rejects hatred and instead seeks justice - to be in Eureka among strong indigenous communities who are willing to stand up for the Earth, for equality and who came out on January 21st to show this new administration that our indigenous people will not go quietly into the wind - that treaty rights need to be upheld, sovereignty respected, and justice restored. At the end of the march the indigenous women gathered on the lawn, held hands in a circle and prayed for our communities to come together in a good way. We are seeing a new generation of Peace Makers."

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