It was a week ago that we ran the column highlighting concerns that the local paper is not only out of touch with its readership, it has probably and more importantly – at least for them – failed to recognize its core competency and maximized it.
In an era where we have a much truer democracy of news sources, the mainstream news has to survive by being accurate and impartial. And when news sources fail on either of those accounts, they undermine the only path they have to sustaining themselves.
In the last week, we have seen that nationally – a full on attack on the institution of journalism by the president in a rally at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
“They’re very dishonest people,” the president attacked reporters. “They are a fake, fake, disgusting, crooked media. Horrible, horrendous people.” He then repeated his attack line phrase, “The press is the enemy of the American people.”
Bob Dunning, with whom, as most know, I often have my issues, offered up a pretty eloquent defense of his own profession, noting the efforts of the Redding newspaper, in the face of the devastating fire, to keep in publication to inform their community as to what was happening.
Newspapers, reporters and local news are at their best in the face of tragedy as they bravely put aside risk, danger and personal feelings to do their job.
The efforts of the Redding newspaper should be lauded and I have little doubt that the local Davis newspaper would do no less should there be a similar threat or natural disaster hitting this community.
That is why, above all else, as I stated a week ago, even most critics of the local paper do not wish to see the paper go away. However, that also does not negate the criticism.
The core competency of the paper is fair, objective, accurate and impartial reporting on the news affecting our community. Where they go wrong is when they stray from that important role and that is where my criticism and many other people’s criticism lies.
Yesterday a reader provided me with a scanned copy of this cartoon that appeared in the local paper yesterday.
Their email to me was: “Talk about being tone deaf to its audience, today’s Enterprise cartoon equating democrats with Marxists, wow!! They’ve surely lost me and perhaps others, too.”
Undoubtedly some readers are cheering on the local paper right now. They are probably saying, “What’s wrong with that?” or, “That is the truth.” Or some variation of it.
The problem is that it is insults without providing much in the way of insight.
Is there really a movement toward Marxism in the modern Democratic Party? No. I know right wingers who will argue otherwise, but that’s my point – this is a view of the far right. This is not a mainstream view. It is certainly not the view of a community that will vote this fall between 75 and 85 percent for the Democratic candidates. Why are you posting an incendiary cartoon that insults your readership without offering insight or something to actually reflect upon?
Second, is this highlighting some burning modern contemporary issue? The main things happening in the news right now aren’t being led by Democrats. So you’re missing a lot of the contemporary picture.
But even if you want to criticize Democrats, there are plenty of ways to do so – accurately. Democrats have turned their back on the white working class. Sure, Democrats have become overly corporate – go for it. I often criticize the Democrats for selling out on core values.
Third, this is a local newspaper that some have criticized for dropping its subscription to the Associated Press and is thus not covering national news, so why then have a syndicated cartoon that focuses on such polarizing national issues?
Bottom line – there are plenty of solid reasons to support your local paper and I actually hold up the column that Bob Dunning wrote this weekend as being at the top of the list. What happened in Redding is a true tragedy and out of that tragedy we gain insight into the value of the local paper.
But, at the same time, Mr. Dunning’s own paper undermines his message by publishing an insulting and pointless cartoon. Right wingers, if you think that’s okay, imagine that the picture is of the KKK and the caption depicts Republicans. If you want to argue that’s business as usual, you’re actually making my point – it shouldn’t be.
—David M. Greenwald reporting