Sunday, July 22, 2007

Befuddled by Nanny Press

With no offense intended toward Mark Silverman, he fails to make his case regarding the value of his paper's political endorsements. In an editorial titled "Befuddled by Ballot? Here's help" he writes:

"Generally, the [editorial] board has access to more information about the candidates and the issues than do most voters. That's why many newspapers believe endorsement equip readers and Web visitors with additional insight and that is valuable as voters make up their minds."
How is this really equipping voters? Why is it that the newspaper hasn't provided the public with that 'more information'? Isn't that what we're paying them to do? You may not like Fox but "We report, you decide" is a great mission statement. We're adults--let us decide. We're not paying them to keep secrets so that we can 'trust' them to make our decisions for us. If they've got more information than they're sharing---what legitimate 'additional insight' have they really provided?

The City Paper and AC Kleinheider bring up some important points regarding candidate information. (I don't agree with buying someone else's name URL but Ronnie Steine could have prevented it by ensuring his name was owned by him if he had any inkling that he was going to be a public figure again.) The point being: Is it appropriate for others to take drastic measures to get the information out there? If the local paper of record won't go there---what else can be done?

Somewhere along the way we decided that our public debates about candidates would be very controlled and legitimate questions about the conduct of candidates was not going to be publicly discussed. That isn't nice. As if politics is a polite parlor game. But character does count. Conduct counts.

Neighbors whisper about the current councilman who decided after the withdrawal date to not run for reelection and fails to inform the neighborhood of his current status, despite being asked several times to do so. It comes off as his being reluctant to campaign but hoping that he falls into the job much like he did when he inherited his father's council seat four years ago. The employment status of another, who touts his job as a qualifier, is unknown for certain and one television report that aired isn't available online so folks can verify it. Further there are candidates who pressure their Metro co-workers to provide lawn space for their signs but these folks say they have absolutely no intention of voting for the fellow, they're just trying to keep peace in their office. Another has significant financial help from folks across town. What's their real interest in our section of town? Folks who haven't been here long are shocked to hear that a former Vice-Mayor caught shoplifting twice thinks he deserves another chance to get near our tax dollars. The consensus: Forgiveness, yes. Trust again, no.

Finally, if that Tennessean editorial board treats candidates like they treated me---hearing the truth from the candidate but choosing not to print it--their endorsements are of even less value. What they know but don't tell us can make or break a campaign. I suggest that's the goal.

1 comment:

Buckley said...

Come on Kay, name names! :)

The Tennessean's coverage of this local election has been worse than usual. The Scene's, while entertaining at times, is too predictably petty and cynical. Brewer at The City Paper is the man. Room for improvement, but still impressive.