Do Politics Control News Coverage?
How do you feel about news media and coverage of government?
I enjoyed talking to Laura Hanes and her American government class at the Pottstown Campus of Montgomery County Community College tonight. Her students had very interesting comments about the news media and how it covers politics.
The topic has been hot lately.
Pottstown Patch Correspondent Brian Zarley wrote an opinion piece about news coverage of Super Tuesday that drew heavy negative criticism from Pottstown Patch blogger Tom B.
And when I got home from MCCC tonight, I received a press release from Ginny Grimsley, national print campaign manager for the public relations firm EMSI in Florida. The firm is publicizing the book “Government Control of News: A Constitutional Challenge,” written by Corydon B. Dunham that “recounts the evolution of government control of television news and the Fairness Doctrine,” the release states.
When I see the words “evolution” and “government” in the same sentence, I can’t help but recall the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, also known as the Dover intelligent design trial in 2005. I was a newspaper correspondent then and covered events related to the case.
At that time, journalists from two competing newspapers that covered the Dover school board meeting and broke the initial story were under fire from the school board’s lawyers who questioned their reporting.
A lot has changed since then in the way we report and deliver news. Back then, we had deadlines to file a story so it could make the morning paper. Today, I publish some stories as they happen.
But some aspects of reporting news, especially in Pennsylvania, are the same as they were many years ago during the Dover episode. The fight to get and publish information from government continues.
I’ve called our state’s Office Of Open Records numerous times over the past few years to get details on the Right-To-Know Law and legalities of government that withholds information. Too many times, when calling about specific news reporting events, OOR told me, the government violated the "spirit" of the law.
So, our law is essentially a ghost? There’s a new spin on transparency in government!