“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”
— George Orwell.
So with the new year kicking off today and Orwell’s saying in mind, I have to say I hope that some people can put the past behind them and get over themselves. For the past month I have heard from numerous people the negative comments made about me and the Poteau Daily News. Comments made by people who are in influential positions of city government and business, as well as their spouses.
My problem isn’t that these people are disgruntled with me or with my employer, but rather their lack of true reasoning behind their anger.
It is important to understand the front page of the newspaper is about news, not public relations. It is about truth, accountability, transparency and the public’s right to know. It isn’t about telling a partial story to soothe the injured ego of those involved or connected to the story. There is no joy or good feeling or satisfaction that comes from writing some of the stories that bring negative things to light, rather only a duty to do so.
So it comes down to this — it isn’t the first time nor the last that a public official’s child make the front page of the paper after being arrested; an employee of a prestigious or respected business will be showcased on the front page for embezzlement; a government related partnership or expenditure may be questioned for its legality or necessity; the results of an audit, regardless the outcome, will be reported; the crime-related arrest of law enforcement personnel or job terminating actions of emergency personnel; and a multitude of other public actions that although may be agreeable to the general public, may not be constitutional, which can affect the minority.
The bare and naked truth is that news is rarely pretty and those who make the headlines are rarely happy with receiving the public attention. But rather than waste so much energy berating the reporter who wrote the story — which I might add involved no action by the writer — how about spending half that energy in meeting head-on the issues that continue to make headlines. Rather than blame someone else, such as the person writing the facts, how about blame the person who brought the facts to life by their actions.
Displacement of anger is a waste of time and greatly hinders social relationships by the immature and petty stirring of the proverbial pot.
If there is any doubt in what I say, ask yourself this, how many times did one of those persons such as I am talking about narrowly escape making the front page as part of a negative story because it couldn’t be verified? OFTEN. How many times did one of those persons make it to the front page on gossip, rumor and heresay alone? NONE. Documented facts such as court records, financial records, criminal records — public records — were used. Even though there was more information to almost each and every story that recently has been a burr in someone’s side, if it was not confirmed, it wasn’t printed.
So I guess what I am saying is, go ahead and tell people how much you dislike this paper and me. Go ahead and tell them how sorry you are that they work at PDN. Go ahead and tell people how this business is against you and yours. But know this — you aren’t so important that the staff of PDN spend all their waking hours looking for dirt and scandal about you to fill the front page of the paper. The simple truth is those stories, fall into the writer’s lap by actions taken by those who tout their dislike for us.
So maybe I am not the only one who dares to hope that imaginary bygones can be put to rest and then we can all go back to pretending everything is perfect.
Happy New Year all!
Kim Ross is the editor of the Poteau Daily News. You can email her at email@example.com .