by Michael Boyink / [email protected]
Complaints about bias in newspapers are as old as newspapers themselves.
Newspapers haven’t always aimed for objectivity.
Newspapers were created to promote the agenda of early political parties. Locally, the Herald started as a Republican paper. For a short time we had a local Democratic rival called – creatively enough – the Douglas County Democrat. We absorbed it in 1920.
The transition from being obviously-biased to objective wasn’t the result of a philosophical epiphany.
Publishers simply found objectivity sold more papers.
Fun history aside, once again this week I see people accusing the Herald of being biased.
Then they mention something from The Snoop.
Which is, of course, biased.
I’ll say it again, just to avoid confusion.
The Snoop is biased.
Because it’s an opinion column.
It’s not news.
It’s confusing, I know. We call what we print a “newspaper” but then include content that isn’t news.
The Snoop is an editorial opinion column. Newspapers have had them since the 1840’s.
As Herald editors, we use The Snoop to cover a wide range of topics, including actions by our local elected politicians. Since we are often the only people present when they meet, we use The Snoop to add commentary to the straight-up news reporting.
Being an opinion, you can agree or disagree with it.
But of course it’s biased.
Most of the accusations lately have been along the lines of “The Herald is biased in favor of the bus drivers.”
Of course we are.
The privatized, contracted bus route owners are currently offering the only viable and available student transportation solution for the Ava School system.
It’s like saying Ava is a “one horse town” then being angry because we support the horse.
Some past (and current) board members have voted in ways that seem to indicate they have other ideas or plans for providing student transportation for the public schools.
But we don’t know what those ideas are.
Because they’ve never been revealed to the public.
We even asked the then-campaigning school board incumbents what their vision for a safe and effective busing system was.
And they answered with the non-answer of “bus cameras.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote:
If a man has good corn or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods.
If there is a student transportation solution that’s somehow better or cheaper than what exists now, we’ll join everyone else on that broad hard-beaten road.
We support the current solution. And we’re happy to see that the school board corrected a pay disparity that’s been years in the making.
What we are not happy with is that, given the chance to vote for a motion that:
Would correct an earlier vote where the board broke an established policy that required them to approve the lowest bidder
Would save the schools $20,500 over a five year period
Would award that work to a local business rather than an out-of-town firm
Three board members – two of whom work in the local business scene – voted no.
What message does that send?