I didn’t speak up today about this, but I thought I’d weigh in with my own opinion. I think it is better to be a jerk in the journalistic world. We are the ones who should “challenge the prevailing attitudes” rather than accept them passively. We need to ask, “Should this be done? Who is at fault?” There is still a need for watchdogs to dig at the truth.
While doing the reading in BNW this week and listening to today’s discussion, I kept weighing what The Post and Courier’s main concern should be: timing or truth? Should their community image wholly/partly inform their editorial decisions? I agree that there should be “grievance” pieces following a tragedy; to not do so is bad business for a newspaper. But I felt that the hard questions that lead to the truth of the matter – that there were mistakes made by the fire department – were not addressed soon enough.
I remember the coverage following the sugar refinery explosion in Port Wentworth. Questions came first. What caused it? Who’s responsible? How many died? The failure of OSHA to inspect the plant’s numerous violations became national news the following day. A small southern city’s grief was expressed and shared, but it did not overshadow the truth of the matter – that the tragedy could have been avoided.