28 August, 2009

Why Becoming A News Snitch May Save Your Local Newspaper (From Itself) and Save You Some Tax Dollars

I was lucky enough to grow up in a great newspaper town - Charleston, WV, one of the few 2-newspaper towns left in America - and in a household that, for much of my childhood, took both the "Democrat" paper, the Charleston Gazette, and the "Republican" paper, the Charleston Daily Mail. By the time I was in high school, I was a total newspaper junkie. I couldn't get enough of LT Anderson's columns and James Dent's political cartoons. Each morning before I delivered the Gazette, I had already read most of it.

It's a wonder I didn't become a newspaper man myself since, as a kid, I could imagine no nobler profession, no higher calling, than keeping elected officials and other scoundrels accountable - which is what great newspapers do.

As I write this post, Sue Wylie is on her WVLK radio show asking if the Lexington Herald-Leader made a mistake when it ran a sports column on the front page of today's paper. Yes. When newspapers start putting opinion columns on the front page where only hard news belongs, they relinquish their raison d'etre and demonstrate why newspapers are going out of business and why the experts are saying that even major cities may awaken one morning to find that they must now get all their news from TV, radio and internet.

But please note: without the Lexington Herald-Leader, Sue Wylie didn't have a show from 10 to 11 today.

I once heard WLAP's talk shows do 6 hours of locally-originating talk radio on one op-ed that was published in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

What would blowhards like Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh talk about if newspapers didn't report the news?

We're dangerously close to raising an entire generation of people who don't know the difference between news and commentary on the news, between facts and opinions, and it doesn't help when newspapers run sports columnists on the front page.

If newspapers have forgotten how to be great, there's something you and I can do to help them remember: we can become snitches.

It was a snitch who helped Woodward and Bernstein bring down the Nixon administration.

Lack of a snitch made Lexington Fayette Urban County Government a safe haven for a child molester who was using his city job and city resources to gain access to the children he molested. You can't tell me somebody in city government didn't know something that, if leaked to a newspaper reporter, may have saved dozens of kids from molestation.

And if you're not morally outraged by the knowledge that a Lexington city worker used his cushy job to victimize children, maybe you'll be outraged by the increased tax bills you're going to pay as Lexington pays $millions in legal costs.

I can't prove it, but I suspect the Herald-Leader's exposes on misuse of taxpayer money at the airport, the public library and the Kentucky League of Cities benefitted from insider information.

These whistleblowers have dislodged these abusers of the public trust from our wallets and saved us a lot of money.

What I'm saying is that even a newspaper that runs sports columns on the front page has enough sense to do investigative journalism when "average citizens" point them in the right direction so help newspapers keep the scoundrels accountable. Go to your local newspaper's website and look up the fax number of the news room or the email addresses of some reporters and start leaking news. Not only will you save your local newspaper from itself, you'll save all of us taxpayers some money and occasionally put some bad guys in jail where they belong.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Only identified commentators will be published. No pseudonymous or anonymous comments will be published. "Handles" and "screen names" are pseudonyms. If you wish to comment, you need to identify yourself or your comment will not be published.