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Over the past week I’ve picked up quite a bit of feedback from the story that started developing last Tuesday regarding compensation hikes for Manchester’s elected officials.
We first reported the story on our website before Tuesday night’s Manchester Board of Mayor and Alderman meeting and promptly followed up Wednesday and throughout the week as more information emerged regarding the situation.
Most of the feedback we have picked up has been positive. Some, as always, has been on the negative side. Someone accused us of printing “half-truths” but failed to back that statement up with any facts. As always, social media provides people a good opportunity to simply speak without providing facts or any base for their argument.
This situation has been intriguing from the beginning for me. As a newspaper, this is the epitome of what we are supposed to do. Contrary to many who believe we are in this business to “sensationalize news” or to “please advertisers,” one of our first responsibilities we carry is government accountability. This particular situation is the epitome of such a situation, isn’t it?
The right to a free press to keep watch over elected officials and government is one of the most important fundamentals we must practice. I missed this charter change when it was slid through last summer. And for that, I apologize to you for not catching it. But we did catch it before it made its way through the state legislature and I hope you appreciate the work the newspaper does here. It doesn’t make me popular – or the newspaper popular – amongst elected officials when we begin to explore and expose some of the information we have over the past week.
But these decisions aren’t that tough – even if they do ruffle some feathers. The decision to uphold one of the most sacred responsibilities of the newspaper and of the free press in our nation isn’t really a decision at all – it’s just a reaction. And even though they may not like it, I expect elected officials to respect it.
It’s simply my responsibility to report the news and to ensure it is reported accurately. It’s your responsibility to read it, understand it and make decisions based on the information you are given.
Take advantage of the free press in this country, in our town, it’s really a great thing.
-Josh Peterson is the editor of the Manchester Times. He is a Tennessee Press Association award-winning writer and photographer. His column, “From the editor’s desk” won TPA first-place honors for best personal humor column. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 931-728-7577 ext. 105. Follow him on Twitter @joshpeterson29