The Media Never Learns

The following is a letter I submitted to the SLO Tribune today. I am refering to the article “Paso woman found guilty of murder” in the Tribune on Sat, Feb. 26, 2005.

I was horrified when I opened up the Saturday, February 26th edition of the Tribune and saw that the paper repeated the same misleading practice that had occurred only one week earlier! A picture with the caption “Celis reacts as the verdict is read” was placed below a photo of Isabel Celis with her hand to her face, once again implying that she was crying. In the ninth paragraph of the article it reads that “Isabel Celis remained stoic — just as she had for most of the trial — as a court clerk read the verdicts.” Upon replaying the video of her when the verdict was read, I realized she never even took this pose at the time the verdict was read!

This photographic error might be overlooked as a simple mistake by an intern but the first line of the article was even more shocking. “Isabel Celis did not kill Norma Barto”!?! Ryan Huff’s coverage of the Celis trial has been a consistent barrage of one sided reporting culminating in his minimizing the crime by saying that she was technically found not guilty of murder! May I remind the readers that she was found guilty of 1st degree, premeditated murder? Just because the Jury gave her the benefit of the doubt to her enhancement charges doesn’t mean she isn’t a murderer. Norma Barto, a sweet, loving, soft spoken woman who dedicated her life to helping others, and who literally gave food off her table and her own bed to Isabel Celis, was then brutally beaten to death in Celis’ front yard. No matter how you want to twist the facts Ryan, this is true. This isn’t just another news story to the hundreds of people in this community who loved Norma and are still mourning her loss. I understand your motivation is to sell papers and get your promotion, but trying to call an apple and orange not only is insulting to the victim’s family but also to the intelligence of your educated readers.

~Tim Alatorre