Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Regional papers blow it with political coverage

For one of the few times, I did not pick up a copy of the print edition of The Joplin Globe today, but I do know that nowhere on the Globe website did I find any reference to the Public Citizen report that indicated Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt had accepted more than half a million in campaign contributions from lobbyists since 1998, more than all representatives, except three, including disgraced former Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
Wait, let me take that back. There was one reference to that information; that came in a response to a letter to the editor.
No matter what Globe editors may have thought of the source (Public Citizen, which published the information, was started by Ralph Nader), the information in it comes from public records. It is information that any media organization could have compiled, but didn't.
I failed to notice the story on the Springfield News-Leader website, either, but the News-Leader was guilty of an even more egregious omission. Monday afternoon, former five-term state representative Doug Harpool officially launched his candidacy for state senator, taking on the formidable incumbent Aunt Norma Champion, the longtime host of KY3's "Children's Hour."
While I would be the first to say that most of these campaign launches are staged for the media and are not worthy of coverage, this one was different...it actually had substance.
Harpool unveiled a plan for sweeping ethics reform, with specific details, not just generalities. And he has a record in this area, having been the legislator who sponsored the bill that created the Missouri Ethics Commission.
So many times, newspapers' political coverage is devoid of substance and is limited to who has raised how much money. Harpool offered detailed plans on a critical issue...and the News-Leader didn't have a word as far as I could tell.
Even the St. Louis Post-Dispatch deemed Harpool's plan worthy of coverage, but not his hometown newspaper.
If Southwest Missourians have to depend on the News-Leader and the Globe for their political information, they are going to remain woefully uninformed.


RSmith said...

Thank you for calling attention to the fact that the print media in this area is asleep at the wheel when it comes to informing their readers about the extra-legal and unethical conduct of our elected officials. What's the use of having a so-called free press if they are too timid to raise important issues like this?

Anonymous said...

Not timid ... starved. You can't report the news when there are no reporters on staff to do it.