Our View….All the news that’s fit — and unfit — to printNewspapers often ride a fine line between reporting the news and being used as a mouthpiece for special interests.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Newspapers often ride a fine line between reporting the news and being used as a mouthpiece for special interests.
It’s not all that unusual for us at the Pine Journal to hear from some disenfranchised citizen wanting to talk about some public (and sometimes not-so-public) issue that they’d like to see us “do something about.” Sometimes it involves a court case whose progress the writer or caller isn’t satisfied with, and he or she hopes that by getting it out in the open justice will be done.
Other times, it’s something as personal as uncollected child support, and the person is hoping to get news coverage to publicly sully the reputation of the other.
Often, requests for coverage involve labor disputes and union negotiations, and a group of workers wants to collectively argue their side of the story in public, in hopes of leveraging public opinion and/or concessions from their employer.
Just last week we received an email titled “Possible Story” from a writer who asked if we’d consider writing about a public safety issue in her neighborhood regarding loopholes in the city ordinance that she said protect dangerous dog owners over the rights of citizens themselves.
Always, these types of inquiries elicit interest and curiosity, and we do our best to check them out and get both sides of the story before deciding whether to do a story on them. But not always can we “do something about it.” While there are some issues that the public needs and deserves to be made aware of, there are other issues that are more appropriately dealt with internally. Using the newspaper as the court of public opinion to gain personal leverage is not always the best and wisest use of the “news that’s fit to print.”
We hope you will continue to come to us with your news tips and story ideas — but please understand that sometimes the best one to “do something about it” is not the newspaper — but you.