Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Berkeley Daily Planet-- The Beginning of the End?

Even its name is misleading- the Berkeley Daily Planet hasn't been a daily as long as I can remember. In the past I'd been known to pick it up occasionally, whenever I felt the need for a liberal dose of outrage and anti-Israel hate speech with my morning coffee and croissant. The lack of editorial control or constraint has been well documented, leading me to wonder if Becky O'Malley's business model is "I don't care what they say as long as they are talking about me".
As the paper grew more and more narcissistic (who can forget 8 articles in one issue devoted purely to ad hominem attacks on local critics?), many locals, myself included, have given up on it. The Berkeley Daily Planet is making the local Pennysaver seem like a journalistic triumph.

While its clearly too early to sound the death knell for the Daily Planet, its final days may be near. The Planet, in the time honored tradition of other free papers, has always been distributed via newsboxes scattered throughout Berkeley. They'll be phasing out this system and instead stocking their little fishwrap in "select" cafes in the future. If you feel the need to see Berkeley public opinion reflected as an obsession with Israel-bashing, then for a 2 dollar "donation" you can find the Planet at the following establishments (all Berkeley except as noted otherwise):

Nabolom Bakery 2708 Russell St
Mo’ Joe Cafè 2517 Sacramento St
The Vault Cafe and Restaurant 3250 Adeline St
The Berkeley Art Center 1275 Walnut St
Roxie Delicatessen, 2999 Shattuck Ave
Pegasus and Pendragon Bookstores, 1855 Solano Ave and 2349 Shattuck Ave
Local 123, 2049 San Pablo Ave
Jumpin Java, 6606 Shattuck Ave, Oakland
Sonoma Cafe 2131 Durant Ave
33 Revolutions Record Shop & Cafe´, 10086 San Pablo Avenue El Cerrito

Those of us who want a local paper responsive to the needs of the community urge you to talk to the owners of these fine establishments. It's time for an intervention. Tell them you want a real local paper- one that emphasizes informed discussion of local issues, and not a disproportionate focus on one issue that far too often devolves into hate speech. Tell them that by carrying the Planet, they are rewarding incompetence and lack of journalistic integrity.

We are NOT suggesting that you boycott these stores; actually, going in and buying a cup of coffee there will make your suggestion that much more valid (after all, you ARE a customer!). And, just as importantly, we condemn any type of theft of the paper-- even if you ARE desperate for lining for your hamster cage.

And consider signing the petition against hate speech in what used to be a newspaper that actually served the local community.


  1. A Few More Lonely Extremists Accuse the Daily Planet of Anti-Semitism


    The Daily Planet finally published a statement of protest by leaders of the Community against its persistent publication of anti-Semitic diatribes... We therefore reprint this important statement here:
    Editors, Daily Planet:

    In its Dec. 3, edition, the Berkeley Daily Planet published a letter from an Atlanta man who egregiously claimed that Zionist Jews conspired with Eichmann and Hitler in the Final Solution. In the letter, he stated, “Zionists collaborated in sending the bulk of Hungary’s Jews to the gas chambers in exchange for allowing your relatives and a few rich Jews to leave and go to Palestine as the basis for a Zionist state.”

    This type of repellent fiction may be commonplace on neo–Nazi websites where Jews are often blamed for their own victimization, but any responsible newspaper would reject this erroneous and inflammatory statement.

    However, the Daily Planet has a history of making Jews scapegoats. Israelis and their American Jewish supporters have more than once been compared to Nazis. Local American Jews have been called spies and fifth columnists for Israel. A writer once gloated that she was lucky that she did not marry a Jew. In 2006, the Daily Planet printed a letter from India which claimed that the Jews got what they deserved in the Holocaust and then repeated numerous anti-Semitic canards. Many of us communicated to the Daily Planet our rejection of this hatred at that time.

    No one is saying the paper does not have a right to print viewpoints that are critical of Israel. We are saying that it has a responsibility to our community to not print anti-Semitic falsehoods. We understand that Daily Planet Executive Editor Becky O’Malley professes free speech “absolutism” as her reason for publishing these anti-Semitic calumnies. However, she has recently stated that she would never publish junk science that might harm the public good (e.g., that the swine flu vaccine is dangerous), and she has never, to our knowledge, published any hate speech directed at other minorities. Is it too much to ask that she likewise desist from publishing false, hateful speech directed at Jews?

    Again, what we are requesting is not a call for censorship. Rather, we are requesting that the publisher and editor of the paper exercise substantially more responsibility in what they print and cease publishing dishonest and hate-filled speech against Jews in general and against Israel in particular, where nearly half the Jews on earth reside.

    Jonathan Bernstein, Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League
    Gordon Wozniak, Berkeley City Council
    Rabbi James Brandt, Executive Director, CEO of the Jewish Community Federation of the East Bay
    Rabbi Ferenc Raj, Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Beth El
    Rabbi Jane Litman, Western Regional Director of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation

  2. The Demise of the Berkeley Daily Planet

    Viewed as anti-Semitic by increasing numbers of Jewish residents, the paper's demise as a print edition was, nonetheless, not a cause for celebration.

    March 5, 2010 - by Abraham H. Miller

    raed more here: