What’s wrong with the Fullerton Observer and its Editor?

What is it about the Fullerton Observer that sparks the passions of Fullerton residents? Some hail it as a beacon of “progressive” enlightenment while others see it as nothing more than an instrument of quasi-socialist propaganda. It is certainly either of these things, depending on one’s ideological point of view – and a whole lot less.

We have come to the conclusion that people who want to see the Fullerton Observer through a political prism are missing the real nature of this “newspaper.” Why do we use quotation marks around the word newspaper? Because we don’t think it really is one. And not just because it is a completely amateur operation that fails in almost every respect to attain the ethical and objective professional standards employed by real journalists and editors; but, also because the Observer mirrors precisely the personality and temperament of its editor and publisher, Sharon Kennedy.

What characterizes the Observer’s failures? For one thing, the Observer indulges in the complete confusion of editorial comment and actual news reporting. Sometimes this is reflected in incomplete reporting, and often through inappropriate commentary introduced into stories merely for its ability to malign those people Sharon Kennedy dislikes. In this same vein we can add the gratuitous slurs, snide commentary, and innuendo aimed at those same targets for no other apparent reason than personal vindictiveness.

What are some of the other indicators of failure to meet basic journalistic standards? Kennedy routinely prints unsigned articles and anonymous letters to the editor that also engage in personal attack; and of course there is the editor’s constant need to add her own commentary at the end of letters from those she dislikes – as if her poor readers were incapable of figuring out anything without her acerbic often incoherent explanations.

Simple errors like spelling and factual mistakes can be attributed to the amateur nature of the operation. More serious is Kennedy’s seeming desire to act as cheerleader for city staff and for council members who toe the line by affiliating themselves with the bureaucracy rather than with their real constituents. So Sharon Quirk and Pam Keller get to vote for the over-development of Fullerton by supporting the Jefferson Commons and Amerige Court projects, and suddenly the issues associated with failure of environmental review slide by the Observer’s notice.

While some of its writers (Judith Kaluzny comes to mind) are really interested in reporting what’s going on without covering up for anybody, there appears to be a real effort on Kennedy’s part to avoid printing anything that might embarrass City officialdom. On the other hand there seems to be no story so unrelated to him that it can’t include a gratuitous insult aimed at Councilman Shawn Nelson.

The Fullerton Observer has got by with its sloppy, jaundiced, pique-pocked brand of reporting since its inception because it was free and nobody expected much. Very little has changed over the years except that the overheated rhetoric that resulted from spirited socialism has given way to shilling for city hall employees and using the Observer to exercise its proprietor’s bitter animus.

29 Replies to “What’s wrong with the Fullerton Observer and its Editor?”

  1. Examples? Read their dumb-ass rag. It may look good from far but it’s far from good. This site isn’t a newspaper, this is a blog. A difference lost on the Observer, too.

  2. Gustavo, here’s one example:

    Fullerton Observer Volume 30 #20 • EARLY-DECEMBER 2008

    Republicans should thank Observer

    Orange County Republicans need to thank the Observer for helping maintain a GOP majority on the Fullerton City Council. Your endorsement of Dick Jones helped him slip in above Karen Haluza for the third spot. Your endorsement of a Republican was especially important because it divided your readers by getting a third vote from many who would have voted just for Quirk and Haluza. In my own case, the Observer endorsement of my candidacy in 1984 was an important factor in my own narrow win. From the start it seemed clear that Mayor Quirk and Councilman Nelson would win the top two slots. Quirk had a strong grassroots operation, and Nelson was well funded with his popular pension stand as a key issue. Haluza posed a real threat to Jones. Running for a fourth term is always a challenge, with incumbent-fatigue among voters. There was a big democratic turnout, with Obama getting 48% of Fullerton’s votes, the highest for any Democrat since FDR. A worried OC Republican Party hit Haluza with several negative mail pieces against which she was unable or unwilling to hit back. She needed the undivided support of her base to win and she didn’t get it. It may not have been your intention, but your strong support of Councilman Jones helped preserve a Republican majority.
    Chris Norby
    ED: Observer readers are pretty well informed and not likely fooled by Nelson’s election year tactics, including his pension scam non-issue, his neighbor Bushala’s robo calls, videos and signs targeting fellow Republican candidate Jones, his campaign
    literature stuffed into Observer racks, his claim to be the “Democrat’s Choice”, or your robo calls on his behalf. Unfortunately, only 25% of Fullerton’s 67,278 registered voters are Observer readers. Nelson’s money spent on campaign literature and the untruthful Republican post cards sent at the last minute targeting Karen Haluza probably did her in with people who were were not wellinformed. That said, she got more votes than any first time candidate in Fullerton’s history even with the over $12,000 spent by the OC Republican Party specifically targeting her. As has been noted, Nelson is the Fullerton Republican Party chair.

  3. Here is a great example of how the Observer is 100% political:

    Last year and into this year, the Observer published stories about downtown Fullerton’s problem nightlife citing urination, noise, trash and vomit.

    Interestingly, when the planning commission heard Rocoe’s outdoor music issue which is a BIG deal in our city, the Observer didn’t even mention it. They didn’t cover the fact it was going to happen, any decisions, nor did they even mention the fact it was appealed to the City Council with a new hearing. They didn’t mobilize their base, they didn’t do ANYTHING!

    For a publication focused on pointing fingers and complaining, they really don’t want things fixed. Fixing would mean the editor would have to find stories. Oh no, work!

    In actuality, Kennedy (editor of Observer) favored Dick Jones (only b/c Bushalla DIDN’T want him) and she knew his connection with “campaign backer” Jack, owner of Roscoes.

    She is 100% political. She can be influenced and is never impartial. The Observer is not news, rather ‘advertainment’.

  4. the friends for fullerton’s future need only check out sharon keenedy’s background to know she is just a figurehead. why dont you ask her if she graduated from a four year college. she calls herself an artist but her paintings lack substance and are juvenile. More likely, Professor buck is the sole voice of the Fullerton Observer

  5. I would not ne surprised if sharon kennedy’s occupation prior to becoming an editor of a “newspaper” was that of professional welfare mom. I believe her highest educational attainment is high school graduate. As for her claims that she is an artist, I dont think peddling crude drawings for twenty dollars really puts her in the same category as Picasso or Rembrandt. If you really want to deflate this rag, just ask the fullerton oberver’s editor to post her education and work history on the front page of her paper

  6. Kennedy is also the epitome of a hypocrite in more ways than we have room to print here. For example, her rag loves to toll the bell for historic preservation efforts in the town but when Kennedy’s own home needed to replace siding she filed for an exemption seeking to avoid having to comply with the architectural standards set up for her protected neighborhood.

    Sharon Kennedy has likely never held a job in her life and that is probably why she has no much animous toward anyone who does (government employees excepted of course). She was essentially homeless a few years back, living in a squalid and run down industrial space off of Santa Fe St. that did not have a shower. absent moving in with her mother she would probably be wandering the streets of Fullerton with a shopping cart swatting at imaginary flies.

    It is time someone in the town give those dedicated writers like Vince Buck and Judith Kaluzny a venue other than the Observer to showcase their work.

  7. Why does Kennedy feel the need to make editor comments on every single letter or story that is published that she does not agree with. Perhaps FFF should target their advertisers and shut them down!

  8. Instead of personal comments it would be better to have people share their personal experiences with the Observer.

  9. There isn’t much difference between daughter and father. I had to threaten to sue Ralph for libel and he backed down like a little lamb. It’s time someone took on the offspring.

  10. Hey Slobserver! When are you going to let your readers know about how Quirk tried to protect one of her fundraisers who was operating illegally. And about how she lied about not kniowing anything about the problem.

    Oh that’s right. NEVER!

  11. Bipolar S, please stop the personal attacks on Sharon Kennedy. We welcome all comments, however, if you want to make a point, please site specific examples of things that the Observer does or does not do good. Thank You.

  12. admin., I will take your advice and apologize to your readers for my harsh words. In the future, I will put my facts in pleasant words.

  13. Admin you yellow bellied slime. If anyone deserves a good ‘ol personal attack it’s that ignorant idiot Kennedy. Lay off bi polar. If we have to stick to the positives about Kennedy we should agree to close the blog now.

  14. I think this article should have had a cartoon of a person with her head in her rear end in stead of the ostrich. It would make more sense in context of the editor of the Observer and her view of the world (one tends to see that which is right in front of one’s face). Just my two cents to improve the accuracy of this blog

  15. sharon kennedy should always wear a helmet, not just when she rides her bike

  16. Everyone who lives in the city of Fullerton and/or cares about the city should be grateful that the Fullerton Observer exists.
    It is an independent voice, an independent journalistic voice, at a time when independent voices are few and far between.
    No, you may not agree with that voice, like the sound of that voice, or care much about what that voice is saying, but it is a voice.
    And, yes, it is highly political,but it makes no excuses for that. If you haters knew anything about the rich, tawdry history of journalism in this country, you’re realize that EVERY newspaper worth the fish-wrap it was printed on, started out as a purely political vehicle by whomever owned it.
    Yes, it’s amateurish. There are loads of typos, inaccuracies and questionable grammar. But the fact it’s composed by people who aren’t trained journalists is what makes it so refreshing and necessary. They care about their town enough to volunteer their time to putting this paper out.
    IT covers city hall, environmental issues, and the basic events and social stuff that no other newspaper does.
    I’m glad it’s around, and it’s far more readable than most of the lame-ass posts on this site.

  17. “an independent voice, an independent journalistic voice”

    Independent? C’mon Flash. It’s a City Hall lackey. But the price is right!

    “it’s far more readable than most of the lame-ass posts on this site.”

    Ouch! Now that’s a low blow!

  18. It’s not easy writing these lame-ass posts, Mr. Gordon. We need help -from people like you who seem to care about Fullerton’s future.

    If you write on a topic you care about e-mail it to me. if it makes sense I’ll be happy to post it. And that’s a helluva lot better deal than anybody’s gonna get from Sharon Kennedy!

  19. Mr. Gordon,

    You make a great point about the origins of journalism in this country and I too appreciate those that seek a place to voice their opinion. It’s the editor of the Observer that has spoiled what was once a voice of independent thought.

    Now we have well meaning participants who have to cringe every time they have to deal with the loon that “edits” the paper. Get to know the contributors to the paper. They have had it with the bizarre idiosyncrasies of Ms. Kennedy.

    Reading varied commentary on local issues is cool and interesting. Ms. Kennedy makes it her personal mission to constantly comment on any letter to the editor that she does not agree with or, worse, to ban “news” that may paint one of her enemies in a good light.

    Quit being so sensitive and call a spade a spade. Do you have your head in the sand or something?

  20. “And, yes, it is highly political,but it makes no excuses for that. If you haters knew anything about the rich, tawdry history of journalism in this country, you’re realize that EVERY newspaper worth the fish-wrap it was printed on, started out as a purely political vehicle by whomever owned it.”

    Right, Gordo. In the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. Journalism was professionalized the Twentieth by the same Reform Era impulses that cleaned up (most of) crony government.
    The Observer is as obsolete as the horse and buggy and kerosene lamps!

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