Selective manner of reporting

The News and Sentinel frequently espouses the premise of a “public need to know” on the opinion page. This is one principle on which this writer and the newspaper can fully agree. The Freedom of Information Act should guarantee the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in West Virginia. Everyone should understand a need for shining the light of scrutiny, truth and accuracy upon every politician, branch of government and their bureaucracies.

One problem typically and chronically occurring in the Parkersburg paper’s reporting is the selective manner in which you decide what truths to expose and what truths to withhold from the public.

One example is the failure to report criminal dispositions in court by names of magistrates, and/or judges. How are voters to decide for whom to vote when their only source of information chooses to report the arrests, charges and names of the accused, but not the names of those assigned to pronounce sentences? Are we voting for magistrates and judges that are soft or tough on crime, or is this in any way related to the state and county discouraging sentencing people to jail or prison to save money?

Another problem is news headlines and reported stories that seemingly convey an opinion. One headline screamed, “BOE rejects free meals.” The fact is this is a federal program paid for by U.S. taxpayers that entice more families into the noose of dependency. Meals are not free and did not include all schools in the county. Moreover, Wood County taxpayers would have been on the hook for an added $100,000.

Additionally, the rules for this manipulative federal enticement were not made clear by the reporter. The so-called “free meals” were offered to all children in only certain school districts in Wood County. In other words, if you lived across the street from a wealthy family living in an approved school district, their children would be blessed with “complimentary” meals. However, if you were unfortunate enough to live in an unapproved school district and were just above poverty’s edge, your children were unworthy of support.

Are these examples of failure to exercise due diligence by thoroughly investigating, or mixing editorials and news?

For standing for fairness, I give thumbs up to board President Tim Yeater and board member John Marlow. I sign my thumbs up; shouldn’t your newspaper disclose the writer of your thumbs up/down?

Jim Mullen