Shame on you, Channel 8: An OB Media Criticism of Journalistic Mediocrity

by on October 3, 2019 · 32 comments

in Homelessness, Ocean Beach

By Brett Warnke

In a sloppy, half-baked under-sourced brief, Channel 8’s Abbie Alford became San Diego’s publicist for the worst quarter of Ocean Beach, a vigilante group of homeless-haters.

Characterizing the group in her story as “fed up with troublemaking homeless,” Ms. Alford’s first paragraph claims the so-called “community group” puts “troublemakers on notice.”  She includes a bland statement from Jen Campbell’s office and a series of tactics and quotes by the group as well as a smiling picture of them.

The article and video is a disgrace to local journalism:

Ms. Alford claims on her page that to her, journalism isn’t about stories, it’s about “people telling their stories.”  Yet, no unsheltered people are quoted or interviewed for this story.  Not one. No interviews seem to have taken place on her “hang out” with the group, especially none of the homeless who are harassed, photographed or disturbed by the vigilante group.

As an added insult to people who are house-less, Abby Alford has rendered these people voiceless while emboldening the nastiest clutch of Ocean Beach.  There are also no statistics or context regarding the large and enduring problem of homelessness in San Diego [Ed: Such as that San Diego has the 4th largest homeless population in the nation.]

Ms. Alford writes, “Other neighborhood groups that have formed in the community have also tackled issues with homeless individuals and those who suffer from mental illness.”

She does not give a voice to these groups, instead, as she writes, she “hangs out” with the Trolls, even posting a picture of them on facebook and detailing their increased numbers.  None of the Troll’s critics are mentioned. 

No other community groups are mentioned or interviewed, the reactionaries are given Alford’s microphone.  She supplies no evidence or vile quotes of the Troll’s actions. She does not mention the threats and violent language easily accessible on facebook or by simply asking members of the community or group.  None of this is even mentioned or cited in Alford’s article.

For context:  Ms. Alford’s own tweets include her keen interest in sports and home invasions, in addition to articles quoting President Trump and re-tweets including “Transcript of Trump’s Ukraine call Is Not Word for Word.”  Recently, Ms. Alford also tweets a claim from fire officials that a small city fire began at a homeless encampment. The reporter does not mention that there were no injuries and no structures threatened while assigning blame to homeless people.

Ms. Alford’s beat is as a “general assignment” reporter.  But in looking at her tweets and reviewing her articles, I could not find one reference to a San Diego resident having trouble paying the rent, or being threatened with homelessness, or fearing economic collapse, or facing medical bankruptcy, or handling issues of housing instability.  There are no reports by her in the last 5 months of tweets regarding local citizens demanding increased wages, union rights, renter rights, or challenges to property owners—this in a city where the average rent has spiked to a record $1,887 a month.

Ms. Alford does not mention that the Troll group does NOT advocate for more housing, much needed social services, a need to address San Diego’s income inequality, the affordable housing crisis, the need for rent control, or an end to Vacation Rentals in Ocean Beach.  These root causes of a large unsheltered population would take courage and thinking and not a reactionary vigilantism. Instead of challenging the group’s silly assumptions, its yellow-bellied attack on the victim’s in our city, she transcribes their own narrative and acts as their stenographer by citing their backward claims.

I encourage all of those people advocating for actual structural changes in our community to contact Channel 8.

After reading the article about the Troll group, do you feel your group’s activism is being represented or highlighted on Channel 8? Are your achievements or needs being reported on?

I also encourage you to ask Channel 8 or outlets hastily doing stories on the homelessness questions like these:

  1. How can Channel 8 better use their access to support the victims of poverty or vigilante violence, as opposed to being a platform for blaming unsheltered people?
  2. Why are poorly-sourced stories allowed to be posted?
  3. If “objective journalism” is a model for Channel 8, why are no unsheltered people or their advocates offered a voice?  Why are only harassers and pursuers given the microphone?
  4. Why are no examples of the abusive and vicious language from local homeless-hating groups like OB Neighborhood Watch included in Channel 8’s story?  Was the reporter unable to find any material on these comments in her research?
  5. Why are no critics of this group’s methods and tactics given space and time in this article, despite the time given for the reporter’s field trip with the Troll group?
  6. How can Channel 8 better encourage aggressive, hard-hitting journalism and questioning instead of the breezy transcription of a vigilante group’s talking points and bogus claims without context?

Channel 8 will do better than this mediocrity.  Do you know why? Because, with your advocacy, you could put THEM on notice.


Bad CBS reporting ..Troll Patrol is a violent vigilante group! October 3, 2019 at 4:04 pm

CBS did a poor job on this story… Shame on CBS!

triggerfinger October 3, 2019 at 5:40 pm

Abbie is a professional and a respected member of our local media. She’s covered many local issues and meetings and interviews and lets the people speak for themselves, doesn’t resort to getting nasty or forcing an opinion down anyone’s throats. You could learn a thing or two from her!

Help the homeless don’t push them down like the leader of Troll Patrol did October 3, 2019 at 5:49 pm

Actually you’re wrong…if she had any sort of skill she would of had both sides ..CBS was /is aware OB has a community against the vigilante group Troll Patrol!..her choice to spend the day with them but not the group who contacted concerned how much they are going to get people hurt was unprofessional and sad! Again the troll patrol is not for the community just themselves most of OB wants them gone!

Sam October 4, 2019 at 9:51 am

You are assuming that Abbie had final say on what would run on air. These reports are edited before they air. Perhaps the editor made it a one sided story. This is, after all, TV, not hard hitting investigative journalism.

Brett A Warnke October 3, 2019 at 9:34 pm

I was so embarrassed for my community that such a half-baked under-sourced story was actually distributed by a news outlet. I couldn’t belief it would silence the voiceless and raise up fear-mongers and bullies and act as a brazen and uncritical advertiser. A professional proves her worth in her work. Hopefully, this story will haunt her career until she reports on the real victims… of homelessness, economic crushing, vacation rentals, a lack of affordable housing, rent-gouging, poverty, and scapegoating.

Eric October 3, 2019 at 11:59 pm

“Haunt her career”… Stable genius

Vern October 4, 2019 at 9:17 am

Noticed that, too. Suppose this is simply the era of the stable genius.

Sam October 4, 2019 at 9:20 am


Vern October 4, 2019 at 9:36 am

Covfefe Friday!

Eric October 3, 2019 at 7:03 pm

Man, is Brent the new editor? The tone is unreadable and too much hate. Can’t read the rag right now.

triggerfinger October 4, 2019 at 9:42 am

agreed, he can’t make his point without insults and attention seeking hyperbole

Sam October 4, 2019 at 9:52 am

You’re all just jealous because Brett has THE BEST WORDS, and you don’t!

Truth!! October 4, 2019 at 12:12 pm

Yup…flocking in mashing keyboards…looks like cringe tourist transplants gasping for air drowning in the OB waters!! Brett has done nothing but point out the truth of what’s going on…can’t play dirty when the spot light is on you? Keep thinking what you’re doing is helping and we will keep exposing it.. get you out of OB for good ..troll patrol bashing fools!!

Tyler October 5, 2019 at 6:50 am

is that a threat?

Phil October 4, 2019 at 11:35 am

Seems your agenda is stronger than Ms. Alford’s.

Brett A Warnke October 5, 2019 at 8:13 am

Absolutely. Making the local news produce better stories about the real victims of social and economic problems is my firm agenda. And it’s uncomfortable, but it is working.

Val October 4, 2019 at 1:01 pm

Dude. Deep breath. It’s gonna be alright.

Booster Wren October 4, 2019 at 3:06 pm

The fact that not one homeless person was talked to in the original story does say a whole lot to me. How do people account for that?

Rick October 4, 2019 at 11:11 pm

I see Ms. Alford as a quality journalist with a limited time slot for reporting on this subject. Perhaps folks that are unhappy with this video report might consider, we that live and own property here are fed up with folks that are disrespectful. We are a very tolerant group here in Ocean Beach, however not tolerant of bad behavior.

Eric October 5, 2019 at 12:35 am

I noticed Ms. Alford did a story tonight about affordable housing options for seniors tonight. Is Brett going to write a glowing review on her story? I think not. If it burns it earns, and if it bleeds it reads, right Brett? Hypocrisy at it’s finest.

Truth!! October 5, 2019 at 1:16 am

Well’re comment first of all doesn’t even apply to the conversation but since you tried let’s talk about it….

Is the senior affordable housing in OB? Does it involve any sort of homeless issue? Or OB groups attacking the homeless? If not we can start with a “thank you for trying “ and end up at you are a fool working on anger and not facts … when you accept the fact he’s on point and doing a favor to OB by exposing this atrocious behavior you will stop defending a illegal group of vigilantes harming mothers,brothers and sisters who need help….fool hold your tongue it is poison makes you look like a fool!!!

Brett A Warnke October 5, 2019 at 8:04 am

That’s awesome, Eric. Thanks for the link. I’ll send it to Frank’s email so he can post it. (I think he can do videos.)

Peter from South O October 5, 2019 at 5:50 am

With a few notable exceptions local TV news journalism sets an extremely low bar for excellence. Picking apart a fluff piece as significant is pointless. Field reporters for TV are assigned stories. The result is often going to aired three or four times, then on to the next story about puppies or the latest yoga craze; not a lot of analysis takes place.
I expect fair and balanced from reputable print media; I expect made-for-entertainment drivel from Channel 8.

Brett A Warnke October 5, 2019 at 8:08 am

Thanks, Peter. Eric just linked some of her subsequent journalism that did the opposite. Using that platform to highlight affordable housing is exactly what we need. Making a fluff piece out of anger and homelessness is unprofessional. But your point is taken about being assigned stories, reporters genuinely have a slate of stories they have to cover. It looks like real coverage of real issues make it on the docket when we push for them. I think we can push local TV media to be better, maybe not, but it’s worth the time to try.

editordude October 5, 2019 at 12:17 pm

A lot of hateful words are being unleashed on this article and we try to monitor them. Not all are caught before going online. Some seem to come from trump supporters.

Frank Gormlie October 5, 2019 at 12:20 pm

Voodoo Trucker likes the troll patrol and trump, hates Elizabeth Warren and anyone who criticizes the troll patrol. Here’s just one example of Voodoo Trucker’s meme: “THE NON LOCAL DRUG ADDICTED CRIMINAL MENTALLY SICK TROLLS HAVE BECOME A PUBLIC HEALTH HAZZARD IN OB AND PUBLIC ENEMIES…”

kh October 5, 2019 at 1:41 pm

Careful your bias is showing. I read much more hateful language in Brett’s articles.

It is undebatable that it’s become a public health hazard. The second part is subjective and divisive, but at least it’s from someone that appears to live here, not just drive through every month or so.

sealintheSelkirks October 5, 2019 at 9:45 pm

Hmmmm. Maybe everybody should read this published today by the top-notch award-winning investigative journalist Greg Palast.

I really hope that people can SEE THE LINKS from this article’s history running right through to the homeless in OB. I did immediately after reading Brett’s latest rant.

$1887 dollars a MONTH rent? Are you kidding me? That’s absurd….needing roughly $24,000 a year just for a freaking crappy apartment? So that is…get out the calculator…40 hours a week, four weeks in a month =160 hours, means one has to make how much per hour just to pay rent…ummmm, am I reading this machine correctly? Nah, couldn’t be what it says the needed hourly wage is…without even taking out all the freaking taxes. Then of course there is electricity, garbage collection, oh…and food! Can’t forget food can we?

I mean, what is the hourly crap job in San Diego paying? What does a dishwasher make, a ‘barista’ at a coffee shop, a pizza counter clerk, a supermarket shelf stocker? It CAN’T be what this dang machine is telling me….

So read a little about how people hit bottom due to how this society is set up. Be my guest, educate yourselves on underlying causes instead of attacking the symptoms of the disease…


Tyler October 6, 2019 at 6:36 am

Hey frank maybe you won’t block my post this time. Apparently I can’t lay criticism to this article that reads like a teenager angry on reddit?

Frank Gormlie October 6, 2019 at 12:05 pm

Tyler – you called the author a troll; that crossed the line.

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