Fair and unbalanced--You decide!! (Can't have it both ways.)
Many of us know of a similar catch phrase from the Fox News Channel. That's what comes to mind when I think about the Augusta Chronicle. Many African-Americans in the community have taken issue with the far right agenda of the editorial board and the owner of the Chronicle, William "Billy" Morris. Some have even called for a boycott of the Augusta Chronicle. I am not going that far, but I just want people to think about the role of the media and how it relates to the perception of the community, as it pertains to education. In the book-Plain Talk Volume 1, It talks about the role of the media as it relates to race relations. In this particular situation, it's not race relations, but rather community relations that is a concern.
The whole incident starts, when I found out that the Augusta Chronicle and Preston Sparks ran a story about Tutt Middle School and an alleged Hit List. The story was extremely late and did not correspond to the time of the actual event. No Hit List was ever found, which was evident from the very beginning. Full Disclosure: I have first hand knowledge of this event and to see the story in the daily newspaper was an eye opener.
Was the Chronicle trying to make Tutt look bad? Who was the original source of this story?
The story ran on Feb. 25th, the same day as Tutt's Black History Program honoring African-Americans in the local media. This historic assembly was featured on all the local T.V. stations in the Augusta area. It was great to see so many motivational speakers and personalities in one area. The story ran at least 6-7 times within a two day period on the local news. Yet, the Augusta Chronicle did not run one story on this momentous occasion. Even though they had representatives at the program, they refused to mention the black history program. Even Patrick Riley, a Communications major from Augusta State Univ. saw the importance of covering the event for the school newspaper, The Bell Ringer. So it's hard for me to believe that the Chronicle deemed the story not worthy of reporting.
The Chronicle has a history of running with outlandish news stories to try to sell papers. The most recent example was the ridiculous all-white basketball league proposed by Don "Moose" Lewis. This charlatan came out of nowhere with a shaky story on MLK day trying to make a name for himself. The Augusta Chronicle was the first to break this story and received world-wide attention for doing so. Their newspaper was quoted all over the world. This was a win-win for the Chronicle and Don Lewis, at the expense of everyone else. Now Don Moose Lewis is promoting boxing events in Nigeria. He admitted to Creative Loafing that it was a publicity stunt.
The real reason for writing this article is to implore the Augusta Chronicle to use better judgement when running stories. They have a huge bully pulpit, since Augusta doesn't have another daily paper. Their stories have a huge impact on the community as a whole. When you run stories about schools, people tend to hold on to the negatives. Let's at least make sure that there is a story to report. Furthermore, let's have some balance in the reporting of educational stories. Look for the good as well. Don't try grasping for straws when it comes to reporting the news, especially concerning children of our community. Please Augusta Chronicle and Preston Sparks, do more good to the community than harm.
Media lesson 101--Nothing is off the record!! Look at this article where they butchered my comments to make me look like a fool. I was having a conversation with a reporter on the phone. Little did I know that it would end up in the paper the next day.