I'm probably insane for writing this post. Believe me, I debated; but in the end what's life all about, if not being misinterpreted by friend and misrepresented by enem--, um, "foe"?
And as I've said, we're here to critique all of the Amarillo media, not just the Johnster and the Davester and the Virgilster. We're equal-opportunity assholes.
So, I write this post in that spirit, but I'll try to be gentle.
The editor's column in last week's Amarillo Independent contained the bombshell that the Independent had begun a collaboration with NewsChannel 10. We'd like to congratulate George for this partnership, and-- if that's the sort of success the Indy wants-- we'll try to be happy for them.
But it's kind of like trying to be happy for your poor, doomed friend while she says "I do" with some abusive, cheating powderkeg of a husband.
When we first dared to criticize the Independent, George lectured us that we "really don’t understand why [they] felt Amarillo needed another news voice."
Actually, we strongly feel that Amarillo needs other voices of all kinds. That's why we do what we do. And why we all had high hopes for the Independent when it first came out. But how, exactly, is a weekly that collaborates with established media going to be an alternative voice? How will the paper maintain an "Independent Attitude" on stories reported under the tutelage of an old-school local television station that retains the power to edit stories to their own satisfaction?
It's hard to imagine that NewsChannel 10's "take" on stories will forever and always match the manner in which the story would be presented if the Independent were independent. George doesn't seem worried, though. He cite's Kari King's "news judgment". And why does George think King has such good judgment? That's easy -- because she reported about the Indy:
Part of what drew me, as publisher, to NewsChannel 10 was King’s news judgment. She alone, six long months ago, decided it was worth letting the community know the Indy was launched. And hers was the only TV news outlet that thought our findings on problems with charity care were important enough to report when we broke the story in early October.
Hell, the Amarillo Globe-News put us on the front freaking page. And we think their news judgment sucks. We think their news judgment sucks because they put us on the front page. That's what independence looks like.
In the end, the Independent's loss of independence is my biggest concern. This deal looks painfully similar to their midterm endorsements. This partnership, along with the endorsements, creates the perception that all you have to do to receive favorable treatment from the Independent is give them some attention. If the Independent learned tomorrow of unethical behavior on the part of NewsChannel 10 reporters, would the paper print what they learned?
I won't use the offending word, but once again it looks like the Indy is repeating the habitual sins of the mainstream media. A healthy media doesn't create stories in wink-wink-nudge-nudge backroom deals. Good reporters should be willing to stab their enemies and friends in the back.
You know, like PTS does.
But I'll show that I have learned something from the endorsements kerfluffle. Let me state categorically that I didn't write this post because I "think [I] know what was going on in [their] heads at The Amarillo Independent."
Far from it. I haven't a clue what the Independent is thinking.