I actually feel kind of stupid because it was just about a week ago that I stuck up for The Recorder in response to someone trashing them, arguing that generally they keep their editorial opinions out of their regular articles. But soon after I said that, I stumbled upon probably the most egregious example of editorial slant that I had seen in some time in the September 18, 2013 article titled “City continues to weigh financial options.”
In that article, David Mitchell our city’s deputy controller, outlined four options for dealing with the city’s accounting problems: declaring bankruptcy, giving up city accounts to the state, hiring an outside firm to handle the accounting, or continuing on as normal, but fixing one account at a time until everything is reconciled. Mitchell specifically stated he recommended the last option. Now why he would even mention bankruptcy or giving up our accounts seems strange to me. Maybe he was just being thorough, who knows? But when asked directly if the city was in any immediate danger, he replied:
“From what I’ve seen, we should be able to meet our obligations as we go along,”
So what was the very first paragraph of this article?
“Declaring bankruptcy or surrendering the city accounts to the state have been outlined as possible options when it comes to restoring Amsterdam’s finances.”
Sure, this statement is technically correct. But it’s obvious that these options were only presented as last resort options. Isn’t it the media’s job to do at least some interpretation so that the reader understands the situation accurately? It is clear the deputy controller was not advocating bankruptcy and did not recommend it. But yet, there they are, the most sensational options, right at the top of the article.
I didn’t respond at the time, and Flippin wrote a good response to the article here.
But what prompted me to write is when I read one of the letters to the editors today bearing the headline “Eve of destruction”
It has finally happened: Amsterdam is on the brink of destruction. After all the posturing, rivalries in the council chambers, failed revitalization attempts, Amsterdam is faced with either bankruptcy or state control. At least that’s what last Wednesday’s edition of The Recorder stated…
So mission accomplished! Whoever edited this story is directly responsible for this person’s completely incorrect understanding of the problem. Score one for the journalism profession!
The situation with the city’s finances is serious, but not insurmountable. The Recorder does the public no service by confusing the issue in this way. If there was ever a time we need accurate, objective coverage of city government, this is it. Frankly, I don’t think we are getting it.
In other news, I was not able to balance my checkbook today. As a result… I …….declare…..BANKRUPTCY!!!!!!!
I’ll leave you with a classic…