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The Larger Picture, Censorship in the Morongo Basin

By   /   January 27, 2014  /   Comments Off

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Updated today @ 2:49 pm

Don’t pretend to be objective.

hi desert s tar

Morongo Basin  - Recent events underscore thinking about the very essence of the heart and soul of our very freedom and human dignity. 

Hence, this piece is not only about about the Hi-Desert Publishing Co. in Yucca Valley and various forms of censorship, but about the lack of balance in local news reporting.  

Publisher Cindy Melland and the Hi-Desert Publishing Co.

Today, Cactus Thorns’ Yucca Valley Editor, Margo Sturges, published a story wherein she referenced many local  government blunders not reported by the local media. And there has been talk in the Coachella Valley about the local media being a propaganda arm of local government.  

Last week Cactus Thorns published a breaking story about local censorship. One regular reader challenged the story concerning an 81 page complaint filed in the superior court against the town of Yucca Valley. The complainer feverishly defended the Hi-Desert Star for censoring the lawsuit story. 

The complainer seem to believe the Hi-Desert Star’s Pizza Delivery Robbery, a Dollar Store update and a small Debris Fire was more important than the story about a high-powered Coachella Valley career attorney’s lawsuit not favorable to local government.

Publisher of the The Desert Trail and Hi-Desert Star, Cindy Melland, is largely the problem. Melland, is the daughter of media mogul, Brehm Communications, Inc. that publishes more than 60 daily, weekly, and semiweekly newspapers across seven states as far away as Illinois and Indiana.

Melland’s reporters know their limits. Their local paper simply falls flat on reporting the full story about local politics by withholding information. Local newspapers have no bite, no edge, no balance are doing a disservice to those whom gave their all for their country. The charitable view is they do a good job on reporting local apolitical local news (as opposed to government news). 

Like Melland’s father, W. J. Brehm, Chairman of the Board, supra, Cindy Melland is a local publisher-mogul in her own right. Censorship of local news is subtle yet constant and sophisticated manipulation of reality in local newspapers.

Such manipulation can take the form of political pressure from local government, friends, insiders and fear of economic pressure. Moreover, local publishers, broadcasters and bias editors are firmly entrenchments with people in government, and municipal new they report on.

The only valid justification for declining a news story is that it is limited by time and space, or another news story was simply more important to the people of the community.  Both local newspapers are embedded in blatant and outrageous censorship and unbalanced news reporting.

 The Morongo Basin Broadcasting Corporation

To the credit of The Morongo Basin Broadcasting Corporation (Z107.7),  after a  few days it did published and broadcast the story about the massive lawsuit against the town (supra). While the radio station has made improving by reigned in  some of its censorship anomalies, the STAR and The TRAIL remains stagnate.

One of the disadvantages of local radio is that both online and broadcast stories are limited in time and print content. The way around this is to encourage Gary Daigneault to do more (infrequent) editorial stories. Daigneault has good writing skills and he knows the Morongo Basin like he knows the biosphere of his Indian Cove fishpond. He’s got an eye for a good story and he can deliver, but holds back because of his many involvements with local government and connections insiders.

Daigneault needs to dust off those dancing shoes from long-ago and move to the music of hard-hitting reporting and editorializing.  Every one of his editorials the undersigned has read hits a home run. But they are few and far between. 

  This gives rise to Kurt A. Schauppner, Editor of The Twentynine Palms Desert Trail

Don’t misunderstand… Schauppner is a talented individual, a respected resident and recognized local actor, playwright, writer and local figure. However, given his involvements with local power groups, involvements as board a member on local organizations, and his associations with local movers and shakers —  Kchauppner is nether a vanguard of the First Amendment nor is he an editor who publishes both sides of controversial political news stories.

He  is completely emerged in the local political scene in the East End of Morongo Basin.  Schauppner  has failed measurable in publishing balanced stories about local controversial issues. Hence, he has ulterior motives he may not even be aware, resulting in shoddy journalism that affront the First Amendment and balanced reporting. 

For example,  Schauppner directly benefits from  controversies swirling about for the last three years pertaining to PP (Project Phoenix), a $30,000,000 bond debt, the local RDA scandal  and the pricey lawsuit the city is involved in challenging the county and state. He is part and partial of the problems — because a new duplicate “PP” playhouse at taxpayers’ expense is the venue he excels in. Theater is  his forte. 


Neither  Schauppner nor Daigneault or Cindy Melland are not expected to agree with any side of a story — just be balanced. 

No local journalist/reporter should ever have to face the destruction of his or her career simply because they insisted on telling the truth, or the whole story. While no two people will always agree on what story is more important than another, a system where the working reporters and “fair and objective” editors would at least provide a fertile environment for debate, dissent and critical thinking.

Sure, journalism a subjective process. It’s a process to be undertaken by the news people themselves, reporters and object editors with a genuine zeal for reporting the full story and balanced news.

The define of censorship is the subtle yet constant and sophisticated manipulation of reality in local media outlets. On a daily basis, censorship refers to the intentional non-inclusion of a news story – or piece of a news story – based on anything other than a desire to tell the truth.

Media obligations of the Desert Trail and Hi-Desert Star to the First Amendment and balanced reporting have been aborted. Hi-Desert Publishing Co. ought to be held accountable. The coverage of news and political information is critically important to the maintenance of a healthy and functioning democracy.

Opinion and Commentary by Branson Hunter

Edward R. Murrow: The flag bearer of excellent in journalism.


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About the author

Branson Hunter

(This story was posted by Cactus Thorn contributor Branson Hunter)

"The ends do not justify the means." If you use illegal mean to accomplish a legal and even desirable result, the good result does not make the bad means you used justifiable.

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