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Friday, March 19, 2010

Will Ryan's Hometown Newspaper Condemn His Op-Ed Policy?

It's been almost a year and a half since Congressman Paul Ryan has been writing op-eds exclusively for the Racine Journal Times without one word of acknowledgment or criticism coming from his hometown newspaper, the Janesville Gazette. I bring this up now because after all it is Sunshine Week, and the Gazette has been running editorials for some time now defending Open Records laws and supporting unfettered access to public information. On Thursday they continued this campaign with an editorial titled Reject legislation that would erode public information.

I would assume that open access to public information also means the ability for the citizenry to interact with public officials when the means are available. Such is the case with Web-based interconnectivity. I also bring this up because despite evidence to the contrary, Ryan is a representative not just for a select newspaper, special interest or local constituency, but an entire congressional district. Yet by not allowing his constituents to debate or challenge his views in an open forum, he is sending the message that his ideological views and statements are irrefutable and factually undeniable. Perhaps that is exactly the message he wants to send.

Granted, most of Ryan's op-eds have little to do with actual governing and more to do with his own ideology and projections, but what could he be afraid of? Even the Gazette wrote on Thursday, "Why stomp on access because a few people might abuse the system?

On the flipside, it is possible that Ryan offered his op-eds with the same publishing restrictions and exclusivity (dedicated page, at will, no comments) to other newspapers in his district - and they refused out of respect for themselves and their customers. The Janesville Gazette could very well be one of those newspapers who opted out of Ryan's deal since they are not printing his full body of op-eds. If that's true, they should say so. If it's not true that they were offered the same deal, they should then stand up for Sunshine and tell Ryan it is a mistake to prevent public commenting - for or against his views.

I normally wouldn't expect a newspaper to stand up for public access and engagement since they don't allow the same for their own editorials. But Ryan is on the public payroll. The editors of the Gazette are not. Everything he conveys from our congressional office, he owes to the public without restriction.


BDN Editorial: Stay informed, be engaged.

CBPP Shreds Ryan's Roadmap Numbers

At the Wall Street Journal, Paul Ryan writes again about his novel "Roadmap" and refers to it as A Republican Road, despite being rejected by fellow Republicans.

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