Saturday, April 9, 2011

The saga of getting your opinion before the people

While I'm grateful that the Providence Journal finally published my opinion piece this week, I am distressed about some things that happened along the way. For out of state readers, I know this may be a little boring. I'll head to national issues in my next post. For now, here is the story.

The "Journal" endorsed Linc Chafee for governor who ran on a platform of changes and expansion of the sales tax. His plan was to reduce the tax from 7 to 6% and create a second tier of 1% on some items and services. The "Journal" has continually attacked the plan. Not only had the paper been attacking the plan, they have allowed a stream of opinion pieces for key state figures (two who ran against Chafee and lost) who are well known in political circles. The "Journal" gave these writers almost a half page space.

I noticed that there was absolutely no balance on the opinion page which drove me to write my piece. After over 3 weeks and no luck seeing publication, I wanted Governor Chafee to feel that he had support in the community regardless of the one-sided attempt to control thought by the "Journal". I copied my opinion piece, mailed it with a cover letter to Governor Chafee on a Friday. The following Monday I was contacted by the "Journal" as it had become clear that they would publish. My suspicion is that it took an act of the Governor's office to jog the article forward, but I have no evidence of this.

On Thursday, April 7, 2011, the "Journal" printed the article. That's fine but what really upsets me is a simple change they made to improve their position in this thing. At one point in the article the conversation goes as follows: "The "Journal" writes that " state employees continue to receive annual pay increases"". My response was; "this is not true". The "Journal" changed my response to, " this is grossly misleading" (view my previous post of March 25 2011).

I want to say that "grossly misleading" was not my statement and is not accurate. There have been many years that I could point to where state employees got no pay raises. The "Journal" is trying to split hairs here because in any given year, some employees may receive a longevity increase which happens 4 times in a career. This happens in any given year for a small percentage of employees but should never have been part of the "Journal's" blanket statement. The "Journal" tried to create the idea in the head of the readers that state employees get raises every year and that is absolutely not true.

On the "Truth-O-Meter", the Providence Journal fails this test and rates a "Not True". Enough of this topic already!


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