Donald Trump made a tweet about a federal judge, who rendered a decision that Donald didn't like, infamous by making a demeaning reference to the "so-called judge."
Editors and reporters at the Aberdeen American News took immediate note and apparently liked the tactic and adopted it for their own use. They must not have liked Initiated Measure 22 which was titled the South Dakota Accountability and Anti-Corruption Act. When it came to occasions to mention the measure in Sunday's edition of the newspaper, the editors and reporters invoked the style of editor-in-chief Trump and reduced a couple of stories to cheap expressions in the Trump tradition.
Scott Waltman, who went to the state capitol to cover the legislature, is the paper's managing editor and managed to insert a little snark into a story about covering the state government with other reporters. When he mentioned the repeal of IM 22, he referred to it as the "so-called anti-corruption measure passed by voters."
And no one has probed into a child abuse case which grew into criminal charges being filed against an assistant state's attorney and a child welfare advocate because they refused to participate in a cover-up. Even though a judge threw the criminal charges out of court because there was no foundation for them, there was never any investigation into the acts involved in filing those charges. In the trial transcript there is evidence of malfeasance, malicious prosecution, and abuse of legal process. But the questions raised have been untouched by government oversight agencies, by the bar association, and certainly by the press.
The newspaper's recent reporting of court news involving recent immigrants has raised questions about biased handling. In one case, the punching out of recent immigrant received front page treatment . But the molestation of a mentally-challenged woman was never reported until a sentencing trial was announced. As a result, the newspaper has injected itself in the ruckus raised by an anti-immigrant group.
The deficiencies of the American News have been noted for decades. Back in the 1980s in the early years of online databases, a journalism review cited the American News as a leader in deficient journalism. This was at a time when there was a monthly distribution of BIA checks in town after which the Aberdeen paper would publish a lengthy list of all the Native Americans stopped for traffic offenses while other things going on in the local population were ignored.
As an old journalist and teacher of journalism, I have never found the paper to live up to the basic standards of competence and fair reporting. In fact, I dropped my subscription and did not subscribe again until some work I do with justice and innocence projects made the monitoring of local coverage a necessity. When I come across some the paper's blunders, I think of how editors I worked with would have responded. The main response is that the blunders would never have made it to print and some omitted events would have printed coverage.
With the word "so-called" the Trump effect in journalism was brought to Aberdeen.
A journalism analyst has been headlined saying about Trump:
Press needs to stop acting like Trump’s ‘botoxed Riefenstahls’ and realize he’s at war with them
The AAN is obviously not at war with the legislature, but it should consider if it should be.