Saturday, December 17, 2016

Bad Practice

I always thought that the reason we don't get to keep our reporters very long at the Howard County Times was because they are are overworked, underpaid, and the stories are rather provincial and unexciting. This week I saw something which is probably a bigger motivator to jump ship than any of that.

This week the Baltimore Sun editorial board published a piece which reads more like a paid advertisement for Superintendent Renee Foose than an editorial. In "What's Wrong With Howard?" not only do they put forward numerous factual inaccuracies throughout, they also essentially throw the reporters and editorial board of the Howard County Times under the bus.

This response from Howard County parent Chris Krupiarz spells it out nicely:

I am contacting you in your role as the Editor of the Sun's Editorial page regarding today's opinion piece on Howard County.  You should be aware of a few facts regarding Dr. Renee Foose's performance and the Howard County Board of Education that were glossed over in the piece.  

1)  Your own Sun Paper, the Howard County Times, twice endorsed three non-incumbents for BoE positions.

2)  Your own Sun Paper, the Howard County Times, requested the Board not rush to renew Dr. Foose's contract in a editorial.

3)  Your own Sun Paper, the Howard County Times, has continually reported on issues of Dr. Foose's tenure that extend well beyond the Glenwood mold issue which, in itself, was a serious health danger to children and staff.

I recommend that instead of being hoodwinked during a single Editorial Board meeting with the Superintendent and her personally selected facts and figures, next time your Editorial Board do actual research -- such as simply contacting your own newspaper staff in Howard County -- before looking like uninformed fools.

Why would any of our young, dedicated reporters want to to commit to stay in an environment where their work could be so cavalierly dismissed? Why put in the grueling hours of community meetings, following leads, corroborating facts, telling a complete story, meeting deadlines, and maintaining a social media presence all at the same time? Why would you do it if you know that your parent company had zero respect for your work?

Here's the deal: if you need to do the end run around local press and leave town in order to get someone to print your story without questioning it, either A) there's something wrong with your story, or B) maybe you're in the wrong town.

The editorial board allowed Dr. Foose to bypass the inconveniences of the journalistic process altogether. 

Why on earth did they do that?

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