Letter to the Editor

Slanted coverage

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Samantha Jones wrote about how much it hurts her feelings when people make assumptions about her own political leanings. She has worked for Rust Communications long enough to know quite well why the community thinks of the local papers as Republican instruments.

One of the owners of this distant corporation wrote to congratulate her for resisting the attempts to categorize her, and he then explained the "editorial freedom" reserved to each newspaper the company owns. "Some editorial pages do slant right," he said, completely missing the point.

The problem doesn't come from the op/ed pages. The Citizen rarely addresses political issues, and Carroll County News hasn't attempted any kind of editorial page in years, other than free weekly advertisements for Republican politicians. No, the problem comes on the news pages, where the stories covered and the "slant" of the coverage fit the political "slant" of Bob Moore, who manages both these papers.

Yes, the publisher tells the editors and reporters what they can write, and not just on the editorial page. While working at the paper in 2009, I called the Republican sheriff, Bob Grudek, to ask why he had lied to the quorum court at its last meeting, and I asked for an interview. The "interview" took place in Bob Moore's office, along with the sheriff, my editor, and me.

Moore explained what kind of stories we could write about the sheriff, and this one didn't fit the bill, even with the sheriff on videotape trying to mislead our elected representatives. That protection continued throughout the disastrous years of the Grudek administration, when Carroll County News soft-pedaled one outrage after another at the sheriff's office.

I stayed on, and did what I could, always fighting an uphill battle. Space does not allow me to offer more examples here, but trust me when I say I can list them in sickening succession. So please don't blame your unfortunate readers, Mr. Rust, for their perceptions. Put the blame squarely on a publisher who does not believe in the free exchange of information and ideas.

-- Mike Ellis