Newspapers are supposed to be independent institutions in a community. But all too often, they become the mouthpiece for political leaders that they favor.
A story earlier this week in a competing newspaper was so fawning and misleading about an important local issue that it bears comment here.
In our Barrow County newspaper last week, we broke a story about how Winder city officials had mishandled the purging of names from the city’s voter list, resulting in around 40% of registered city voters targeted to have their names purged from the list. They would have had to vote a provisional ballot if that had happened.
The city tried to blame our newspaper for making a big deal out of the issue and claimed that the list we had was not “final.” The other newspaper in town quickly became the city’s mouthpiece in the issue. In a lengthy, misleading story, they published the city’s spin on the matter, including this paragraph:
“Essentially, any work that was done on this list is hypothetical and not written in stone. No one was removed from the voters list. Being hypothetical, that list was not an accurate representation of who will be challenged by the city.”
No attribution was given for that nutty comment, meaning the newspaper simply made up a cover story for their friends at city hall.
That’s poor journalism. Essentially, it was hypothetical journalism.