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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Are Some Council Members Worried More About Negative Publicity Than Truth?

At Monday's Janesville city council meeting, a few council members spoke out about the controversy surrounding the Janesville Farmers Market after the Janesville Gazette posted a story about certain vendors being rejected from entering the market.

Unfortunately, in the Gazette's follow-up report covering council member's remarks, the newspaper deliberately omitted comments to the effect that council members expressed more concern about the negative publicity and fallout from the newspaper story than the actual potential for a corrupted administrative process as portrayed in the story. It was as if council members were surprised the newspaper would publish such a "negative" story about Janesville in the first place, particularly before they had the chance to hear it from the "horse's mouth." But since the Gazette is little more than a marketing publication for the city and business community and has a long record of sweeping the local dirt under the carpet, I can't blame council members for thinking that way. That I'm even writing about a farmers market controversy to this extent is laughable, but a testament to the tight lid the Gazette keeps on even minor controversies that might place Janesville into a negative light.

But do we really want a false reality for the sake of presenting only positive stories? Where is the quest for truth and fairness? Where is the integrity?

With the farmers market controversy kicking into the rebuttal phase, I can only hope for the sake of truth and fairness that the Gazette gives the market's director and board members a fair chance to respond to their article without reframing or juggling their statements out of context.

As a local media watcher, I was quick to point out what appears to be a rare clean and balanced article by the Gazette, without the usual socio-political message or public steerage that underscores most their local stories. I'm writing about this next concern because lightning never strikes the same place twice.

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