Newspaper omits ‘bad news’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 26, 2006

To the Editor:

I hope that you will publish this letter in The Selma Times-Journal.

As this is not a direct criticism of you, it is my opinion that the very heart of a newspaper is allowing the public an opportunity to read about news items that not only inform them of happenings in their city but it also assists in protecting them in their every day lives.

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If conditions exist that would jeopardize their safety and welfare, that is news.

The last few months it seems The Selma Times-Journal has taken the position that “if we remain silent on certain issues, the citizens will assume that the issues don’t exist.”

In fact, there have been many instances that the people are aware of that have been purposely, or otherwise, omitted from the local newspaper.

One example is that the elevator has been inoperative in the Public Safety building since January 2006.

Instead of relating to the elderly and the handicapped that they should take someone with them if they require access to the 2nd or 3rd floor, you remain silent.

If for no other reason, the paper should make comment of the inoperative elevator being in violation of the laws enforced by the American Handicapped Accessibility Act.

Another example of omitted importance is alerting boaters that if they put in at the city marina, it is at their own risk. The dredging effort so far has not been successful for whatever reasons. This the public needs to know, before they have trouble with their boats.

The reporting of crime, which warns the public of safety issues in our city, is virtually non-existent. It seems the local newspaper has chosen to omit any discussion or occurrences of crime in an effort to convince the public that the crime rate is dropping in Selma and that we’re much better off than we were.

One crime problem is the continued purse snatchings and harassments that continued in Selma, especially at Wal-Mart.

Although the STJ chooses not to address it and a police report is not readily available doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

At the very least the problem should be called to the attention of the public and recommendations given to assist the people in the safety as they attempt to shop in our city.

I realize that if we portray a utopia of low crime we stand a better chance of attracting industry and business into our community, but I think the STJ has dropped off the left side of the tightrope they have been forced to walk in thinking that the truth will not surface.

Some may say this letter is a personal vendetta against the local newspaper or is politically motivated.

If so, you are wrong on both counts.

For whatever reasons others may feel, this letter is written in an effort to help those who are continually inconvenienced and feel the local media is not fulfilling its obligations to the public, those who help the STJ to continue to be solvent.

I feel reporting honestly, both positive and negative news, is a prerequisite for local news media to maintain the trust and respect of the public.

Gene Hisel