Saturday, April 14, 2007

Irresponsible Journalism

With the election just a few days away, we had originally thought that our final post before election day would simply be a short reminder to contact your friends and neighbors to urge them to get to the polling stations. Unfortunately, we find ourselves once again having to take time to address another egregious attempt to distort the facts of the library referendum. Over the past several weeks, many good citizens of Carol Stream have risen up against opponents who have tried to foist inaccurate, outdated, or exaggerated claims about the library proposal on the public. These supporters have written countless letters to the local papers and have provided the accurate statistics and background information that the voters deserve. On April 11, an unexpected and deplorable new development has forced us to redouble our efforts to inform the public. Sadly, this challenge came from The Examiner, a community newspaper that purports to inform and serve the public.

Breach of Journalistic Ethics: If you are like most Carol Stream residents, you were probably filled with anger and disgust if you read a story printed on April 11 that employed two old and irrelevant internal memos to allege deception on the part of the library staff. Incredibly, no one from The Examiner made any attempt to contact the Library Director to verify if the memos were authentic or if they had been obtained legally. The writer makes no effort to point out that the memos were between four and five years old or that they referred to decisions that were totally unrelated to the current referendum campaign. Further, the writer made no effort to solicit a comment from the Library Director or to provide an opportunity for her to refute the unfounded allegations. Couple these facts with an article title that suggests deception and suspicious timing just days before the election, and it is easy to see why so many angry readers believe that the actions of the writer and editor at The Examiner ran contrary to virtually every established standard of journalistic ethics.

Curiously, the slogan on the newspaper’s masthead reads, “If I were to choose between a government without a newspaper or a newspaper without a government, I would not hesitate to choose the latter.” We feel that the words are as meaningful today as they were when Jefferson wrote them, but the implication, of course, is that the newspaper elects to adhere to the ethical standards that the public has reason to expect. If the publishers of the paper do not, then the publication is literally not worth the paper on which it is printed. The good citizens of Carol Stream expect and deserve better.

What Can You Do?: We feel that the best way to deal with this deplorable article is to use it as additional motivation to communicate with as many residents as you can in these final days. If people inquire about the article, call attention to the irresponsible reporting and reinforce the many valid reasons for a YES vote for a new library. Renew your efforts to call or e-mail your friends and neighbors, and urge them to extend your efforts by contacting five or ten more people. If you wish, forward this blog post on to others and encourage them to read the long list of articles on this site. If anybody doubts the notion that the shelves and public spaces are filled beyond capacity, please encourage them to visit the library this weekend so that they can see for themselves the overcrowded conditions that have caused so many residents to support the proposal for a larger and more modern facility.

We thank everyone who has shown support for this important issue, and we are confident that, with your help in the next few days, we can achieve our vision of a new library for Carol Stream.

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