Local Papers as PR Wings for Local Politicians


What relationship are journalists supposed to have with politicians?  For some reason, many of us grew up believing it to be a central tenet of journalism (especially post-Watergate) that their role is to challenge politicians, view them skeptically, and strive to keep them honest and humble.  Of course, many (maybe most) conservatives around the United States right now think of them generally as Democrat partisans with bylines, as Instapundit Glenn Reynolds puts it, but let’s put ideology and party aside.

I’m pondering this topic because this week’s Sakonnet Times has an unattributed article about hometown Democrat Representative John “Jay” Edwards’s anti-First Amendment legislation seeking to create disincentives for people to become involved in local issues that appear on ballots for direct democracy.  Of course, that’s not how the paper characterizes it.  In fact, the paper is literally a reprint of a press release that Edwards put out in January, or very close to it.  As one would expect from a press release, the language is extremely favorable to the legislation.

Even if we didn’t expect newspapers to be at the front lines in safeguarding our First Amendment rights, do incumbents in Rhode Island really need additional political advantages?  I mean, they already tap into the statewide spreading of campaign funds, provided they go along to get along (which Edwards does enthusiastically).  They already get a foot in the door for handing out access.  They already secure legislative grants that allow them to get headlines for being charitable with taxpayers’ money.

Should private newspapers also be helping to spin their activities?  Or should those local papers be going out of their way to help people understand what their legislators are really doing to them?

  • Rhett Hardwick

    I think we have allowed ourselves to be deluded by journalists (“reporters”?) constantly congratulating themselves for being “independent”. Much the same way that we allow the Academy Awards to sway our judgment. Independence, objectiveness and truth telling comprise little of the history of American newspapers. It has been almost 50 years since “journalists” “brought down the president” (the phrase of the day) through Watergate, and we are still celebrating it. Let’s face some facts. Nixon was the “great Satan” of the liberal class, the New York Times is and was it’s house organ. So a minor crime, a burglary by a bunch of Cubans, was his undoing. To be fair, his problem was “covering it up” as he was unaware of it’s inception. Liberal Pres. Johnson was known to order such burglaries, where was the New York Times? The public was introduced to the realities of American politics, “enemies lists” etc. But the public was persuaded that this was the exclusive province of the Great Satan, Richard Nixon. If we got rid of him, we could return to the nice, clean, politics of another era that never existed.

  • ShannonEntropy

    I am shocked — shocked! — to learn that the lame·stream media is just a socialist tool

  • Mike678

    Could it be that they are lazy? Papers don’t pay much, so it’s not as if they get top-drawer talent or even people that can spell ‘initiative’.

    Anecdotal, but I called an author with a similar complaint asking why they couldn’t do some investigative reporting and/or put a little critical thought/balance in their presentation rather than just printing the talking points they are handed. He told me he was “too busy.” I, of course, was too busy to renew my subscription.