Saturday, October 22, 2005

What's news, what's not

As I'm sure you can imagine, I get frustrated and angry when I see people accusing The News-Review of being biased or slanted because I was a Democratic councilwoman once upon a time. I am not by any means a partisan. Period. My lack of partisanship got me into a great deal of trouble with the Democrats when I was on the Town Board. Why? They hated me every time I voted with the Republicans. That's just the way partisan politics "works" and why government is so dysfunctional.

I've got my own opinions about things certainly. Who doesn't? Does that disqualify me as a reporter or editor? It would only if I let my opinions drive what I report or how it's reported. And it most certainly does not.

Contrary to what many people here assert whenever we report something they'd rather not have aired, we really try our best to play it right down the middle at The News-Review, without the "bias" or "slant" that some here like to accuse us of. We take our responsibility seriously to provide fair and accurate coverage of what's going on in our town. We confine our opinions to the editorial conmentary pages.

Some people think it's not "news" that a candidate for Town Board wrote a false address on his witness affidavit on his nominating petitions.

Some people think it's not "news" that a sitting councilman would go into business with a man who has pending litigation against the town and has operated an illegal 45-acre sand mine --literally digging $10 million out of Calverton-- for several years.

Some people think it's not "news" that the same councilman would participate in policy-making and decisions on issues that directly affect the business interests of that same sand-mine operator, even after they established their business together.

Some people think it's not "news" that this councilman didn't even bother to tell his colleagues on the Town Board, never mind the public, of his business relationship in the context of all these things, and that, if a question wasn't asked in an interview, it never would have come to light. (His disclosure statement does not disclose who he owns "Densieski Fuel" with.)

Some people think it's not "news" that our councilman's business partner helped send the former county Republican leader to jail for taking $20,000 worth of bribes from him.

Some people think it's not "news" that our councilman's business partner TESTIFIED in federal court on Nov. 17, 1999 that he bought a truck with the corrupt county political leader and gave the corrupt political leader money in connection with that business deal.

To the people who would question why we report these things, and assert that we do so to advance our own "agenda" I would like to know why they think a newspaper would NOT report these things. They are all relevant to a candidate's qualifications to hold the public trust. Are they not? It doesn't matter to me a whit whether the councilman involved in this kind of stuff is Republican, Democrat or any other party enrollment.

It seems to me that the only reason you might disagree with that premise is that your own political bias has blinded you. Or that you are intent on defending your party or your candidate by spinning facts and/or discrediting whomever might get in the way of your cause (or doing whatever else it takes.)

We'll keep doing what we do, and work as hard as we can to produce the best newspaper we can for Riverhead. I do this because I love my town and I'm concerned about its future and I believe in democracy, which depends on the free flow of information to the public. That's my agenda, and I'm proud of it.

You keep drawing your own conclusions. You can buy our paper or not. Feel free to get your "news" from these message boards or from Suffolk Life or the Independent or any other source instead. It's still a free country and we're still a free press. But I don't believe you'll be as well informed about what's happening in our community, because we DO play it down the middle and because we are the only newspaper completely dedicated to covering this community, inside and out.

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