I come before you today more as a lifetime citizen and lover of this great county than as a journalist, though the two are difficult to separate at this point in my life. There has been a storm brewing for months now that I proudly stand in the center of, as a reporter for this very paper.
Standing in the middle of such a situation can get a little messy if not hazardous at times. That bothers me not one bit. I knowingly and willingly dove into this fray because doing the right thing for the people of Meade County, my neighbors, family, friends and my son and other children’s futures far outweighed me staying silent in the corner. If that meant getting some egg on the faces of a handful of local officials, well, so be it.
With that being said, the time has come to step back from moving forward and clear the air on a few things. The local radio station allowed Randy Johnson for two weeks to sling misinformation and unrestrained anger towards our paper, and now “Citizen Joe” appears to have taken up where Johnson left off.
We have printed editorials and always will, as they are a long-standing tradition of newsprint. In fact, Webster defines editorial as a newspaper article that gives the opinion of the editors or publishers. It would be hypocritical of me to do anything short of saying WMMG and Johnson have the same right, as does Redmon in penning his letters to the editor. It may be their right, but it will go on unchecked no longer. I surely did not throw down the gauntlet, but I will readily pick it u and accept their challenge.
Since local radio has had to traverse many of the same hurdles our newsprint has had to in order to survive in this rapidly changing digital age, I would expect that before they turned to attacking a fellow Meade County business (especially one of the oldest in the county), that they would at least give due diligence to researching their argument and the facts before they go on a “ratings at all cost” blitz for their little talk show. As for Redmon, he appears to be just another run of the mill partisan hack. Therefore, little more should be expected out of him than blind rage towards anyone who fails to bow down to his beliefs.
Sure, some of us have been critical in our own right of a handful of local government leaders and their actions as of late. The difference is, we have researched, investigated and verified facts before we decided to ever put our pens to paper. Not to mention, we try to provide both sides of the story. One side may seem a bit underrepresented at times, but we can not force someone to talk. We do at least provide the opportunity to do so, though.
One issue Mr. Johnson and Redmon have had, in particular, is this paper’s decision to allow an anonymous contributor to have a voice in our paper. Amazingly though, they have never once attacked the anonymity of our horoscope contributor, who in my own opinion, gives far worse advice than Conrad Doyle ever dreamed of. I wonder if they also feel we should burn Mark Twain books due to his abhorrent use of a pen name.
Furthermore, I find it sadly ironic that on the same radio show that he ranted continuously about the Messenger allowing Doyle to remain anonymous and how we were unethical for doing so, Mr. Johnson allowed Judge/Executive Gerry Lynn to anonymously sit in on his show, unbeknownst to the audience, while the host and guest did his bidding. Maybe that’s why Mr. Johnson, himself, made sure to ask the magistrate questions to ponder right before taking calls or going to break. Was he giving the magistrate time to deeply ponder the host’s softball tossed questions or giving the Judge time to anonymously give the “proper” response to his puppet? I surely do not believe the Judge was wasting taxpayer money just to enjoy viewing the live recording of a radio show. Maybe it was just a regularly scheduled Fiscal Court field trip that they forgot to announce.
I’ll now do for Mr. Johnson and Redmon what they neglected to do prior to catching their lingering cases of oral stomach flu: disseminate all the facts, not just a select few.
Is it unethical for the paper to protect the identity of Conrad Doyle while this anonymous writer questions the integrity of some government officials and their actions?