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Monday, September 14, 2009

Newspaper Editor Takes Down MoJo Writer

Sunday’s Gazette carried a very critical perspective written by the paper’s editor attacking an essay about post-GM Janesville written by Charlie LeDuff and Danny Wilcox Frazier of Mother Jones. The Gazette editor, Scott Angus, makes an unwarranted if not completely bizarre attempt to de-legitimize their literary work and winds up mocking the writer for incorporating the weather as a backdrop for the story while on their visit to Janesville.
JG Editorial Excerpt:
(Title: Janesville’s real story requires better look)
Sept.13, 2009 -- You might have noticed something in those descriptions. If not, I’ll point it out to you. This man’s vision is bad. He sees things as he wants to see them, even if reality is a bit different.
And the Gazette editor doesn’t I suppose?

Let's forget about the Gazette's failure to see their own reflection this time and just consider why would the newspaper editor feel this way? Did LeDuff and Frazier beat the Gazette to the punch on the unique storyline? LeDuff, much like myself, offered a rare and unique perspective of Janesville completely outside the loop of the city’s government and its business insiders, country club cliques or a Bliss paycheck. This is something that stands on its own merits or demerits - it just is what it is. Or did the Gazette editor feel slighted because the magazine writer apparently did not confer with the “all knowing and all powerful grand wizards" of Rock County’s media monopoly at the Gazette? They forgot to pour their story ingredients through the Bliss filter. For that they deserve to be taken down.

Granted, the MoJo writers did not dig very deeply into Janesville's history, but they shouldn't have to. They weren't here on a fact-finding mission. In its purest form, they offered an unsolicited and exclusive perspective through the eyes of a visitor looking for the immediate effects GM's closing has on the workers. And they found it. Interviewing people at the Municipal Building, the Gazette or visiting the plasticized fast-food big box corridor on Milton avenue won't cut it. They spoke to real people.

By the way, whether we can agree on our shared reality or not, we have some good writers here in the Rock County area. One of them also writes a blog, the Daily Dadio, had the guts to trek off to Iraq and write about what he saw and what he experienced first hand. I now wonder if the Baghdad Daily News told him, ”Hey Mister Dadio, don’t write about our city now, we have a war on – come back on a bright and peaceful day.” After reading the story it's obvious the author wrote about Janesville as he saw it and when he saw it and interviewed real Janesville people for the story.

People in Janesville and in much of the rest of the country have been and still are being fed an alternative view of reality through the mainstream media. Economically and socially, we are now the result of what we’ve too easily accepted as the whole truth. Our trust has been broken.

Like most of the inner city of Janesville, the MoJo writers took the deteriorating condition of the vacant GM plant's surrounding environment and drew parallels, like any honest visitor would. If they only knew some of the visuals and images they took in were actually city growth stragedies decades in the making. The condition of the nearby Jackson Street bridge for instance, has little to do with the fate of GM. But would these historical nuances make their perspective any more palatable or accurate? Not in my view.
Mother jones Excerpt:
"There ain't no job around here for $21 an hour," the autoworker says. "I might as well drink."
How does that seemingly harmless yet poignant comment reflect on the city's recent consideration to add more liquor licenses to the post-GM environment of Janesville? Is there any connection here or is it simply a coincidence? Does that proposition even exist if the Gazette doesn't raise it?

I highly recommend everyone in Janesville read the Mother Jones article when they get the chance. Don't worry, it shouldn't shake your rafters. Although I don’t agree with everything (who ever does?), I do respect the writer's reality and the unique perspective it provides. Yet, I can’t help but think that the more somebody might find themselves at odds with, in the story, the more disconnected they likely are. Keep in mind, the story was written through the eyes of a beholder - not the beholden. Is there any room for forgiveness?

Note: This posting is the independent viewpoint of its author.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Gazette's bias is only superceded by their arrogance.

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