Thursday, January 12, 2006

How Could CM Life Get It So Wrong?

Anyone who picked up the Wednesday edition of the CMU newspaper, CM Life, might be wondering what the local Democratic Party has been smoking at their meetings. CM Life senior reporter Jen Marckini blessed us with her presence at last Thursday's ICDP meeting and folks who attended are scratching their heads about whether they were at the same meeting she was.

The CM Life story was either a misunderstanding or a deliberate attempt to cause confusion and right now it is unclear which. But it is a lesson in how the press can get things wrong, especially if they put themselves into a position where they are covering something they are unfamiliar with. The CM Life story is titled, "Local Dems rally against Wal-Mart."

Frankly, I didn't see much news value in attending that particular meeting and perhaps she didn't either which led her to the path she chose to complete her story. Ms. Marckini called the Governors office, the Union Township Supervisors Office, the President of CMU's Office and Sen. Cropsey's office all based on her assumption that the ICDP is oppossed to Wal-Mart. Too bad that assumption was wrong.

Fortunately we have the whole thing on video which will be shown on public access Channel 3 where the public can make up its own mind what happened. From our view we were discussing a vital local public issue which has had inadequate public discusssion. Of course, many of us spoke of our concerns about Wal-Mart and there weren't many kind words said about the retail giant.

What the student journalist obviously didn't understand is the process by which local parties take votes on issues when they feel they are important. She didn't know the local history of our party and that in the last year only a few things reached the point of a vote. She didn't understand we have a history of discussing controversial issues and we welcome all points of view.

Based on what she thought she heard --- we , the local Dems -- are oppossed to Wal-Mart. We have had an apology from Dominic Adams, the top editor of the paper and we will get space to write a guest column response. We actually do admire what most of the young CMU journalists try to do with their limited experience. We hope this has been a really good lesson for CM Life.
It certainly has been a good lesson for us. The next time we see a reporter at our meetings we need to educate them about what we are doing and give them some background.

We've heard several Dems suggest we should never allow reporters at our meetings again as a result of this experience. Republicans might take that approach. Democrats do not. We have nothing to hide and I believe the tape will show that. We'll let you know when we expect it to air.

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