Reader: TN misled people in two stories, not one

Published 8:46 am Wednesday, February 25, 2009

To the Editor:

In the Feb. 14 edition of The Tidewater News, the newspaper apologized for a headline that, taken alone, could easily have misled people to think that the paper mill was close to shutting down.

In the paper’s words, “In these challenging times, when our readers are jittery and worried about our community’s economic health, the newspaper must be careful not to create unnecessary panic.”

This is so very true. I just wish they would follow their own advice.

The TN helped mislead people on what went on at an interview process for an opening in the Franklin School Board. They quoted a few City Council members and a few citizens on their interpretation of what David Benton had to say. Others present were not asked, and if they were, they would probably not have said anything in fear of being misquoted, including trying to make out what he said as racist comments. The Tidewater News made it sound as if Benton was a racist and he explained everything in detail about how he was not referring to any group but to problems with our schools.

Yes, we have problems, but if we don’t address them as they pertain to the students (which we haven’t for fear of offending someone), then they will not get solved.

The TN added to this misleading image by equating what he said about serving chicken dinners as making it a racial food. Who gave them the right to do this? Show me where this stands as the TN quoted their “test of accuracy and fairness.” It doesn’t, and the paper knows it, but it helped sell the paper.

What good does it do to keep having the same people seeing everything in black or white and not everyone the same color?

Also, many times, the ones that holler the most are the ones that have very little to show for what they have done. Yes, keep everything in the open to continue your baseless attacks. This does no good for our kids and no good for our citizens. Complain in front of reporters and turn a deaf ear in private meetings. Great example you set. For those holding on to the ways of the past, you need a new vision.

Both the IP and Benton stories had the same results. They misled people on the interpretation and accuracy of the article. One was on the biggest employer in the area, the other from a dedicated individual with less deep pockets. You figure.

Don “Donnie” Blythe


Editor’s note: In the same news story in which two City Council members and several citizens took issue with David Benton’s comments, the newspaper interviewed two other City Council members, Benny Burgess and Barry Cheatham, as well as Benton, who explained his remarks. The newspaper also made available on its Web site an audio recording of the entire school board interview so that citizens could listen and form their own opinions. In an editorial on this page and in a personal column by the publisher, the newspaper defended Benton against critics’ suggestions of racism. We stand behind the fairness and accuracy of the coverage.