Saturday, March 18, 2006

108: “Gettysburg Times Guilty of Editorial Bias”


Lieutenant Colonel Bill Hewitt, US Army, Retired, is a well known and highly respected member of the Gettysburg Battlefield community. In a letter to the editor of the Gettysburg Times published on Friday, March 17, 2006, Lieutenant Colonel Hewitt took the news media in general and the Gettysburg Times editorial staff specifically to task for their biased and prejudicial editing of the news the paper prints. [Didn’t we talk about this just a week ago in GettysBLOG #
105: “Alas, The Gettysburg Times, I Knew Them Horatio”?]

The good Colonel presented a fine litany of national news stories carried by the Gettysburg Times such as the failure of the Army to meet recruiting quotas for three straight months last year, the failure of the Iraqi parliament to hold a scheduled session ten days ago, Senator John Kerry’s election campaign “chicken little” claim that the draft was coming back, and the coverage of deaths of Pennsylvania Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He pointed out that the Army’s recruitment quotas not only have met but surpassed quotas for the past eight months, and that over the past few years the Army has consistently been well over quota. Reenlistments are also over the quotas. Further, the Iraqi Parliament met within hours of the story that they failed to meet, that here we are almost 18 months after the last election and there is no hint of a draft, and that only one small article reported the return of thousands of servicemen and women from Iraq and Afghanistan to Pennsylvania, an event that occurs far more regularly than service deaths in Iraq.

His point, that with the exception of the one small story about returning veterans, nothing has been published by the Gettysburg Times to counter the negative image left in their news stories when those stories turn out to have been wrong, insignificant, or simply one-sided.

One could call it a “Liberal Bias”, but that has become so trite and hackneyed as to make the charge meaningless – it is a given these days that the press/media is based in the mid-left politically. One could be more appropriate to call it an anti-Bush bias, or anti-Administration, or even anti-Congress bias – and they would be correct.

This blogger is not the only person scratching his head over the Gettysburg Times – Republican owned, in a near total Red County – publishing with a left wing editorial bias.

Oh, to be sure, the Times has other biases, too, like the bias in favor of the casino. Case in point: in the very same edition, a front page, above-the-fold story expressed surprise (even shock???) by the investors that the State House of Representatives would unanimously vote for legislation that would block the proposed casino from Adams County! Unlike articles which are prompted by the No Casino Gettysburg group, which all have a counterpoint from Chance built in, this article is one continuous assault by LeVan and a downtown shop owner against No Casino Gettysburg, the legislature, and the Civil war Preservation Trust. There is no counterpoint from either NCG or CWPT.

And, to cap it all off, the Editor of the Gettysburg Times, one B. J. Small, actually does not deny any bias. In an arrogant post script to Lieutenant Colonel Hewitt’s letter, editor Small writes: “The Times is fortunate to have well informed readers, to complement our priority of local coverage.”

com·ple·ment
n.
1. Something that completes, makes up a whole, or brings to perfection.
2. The quantity or number needed to make up a whole: shelves with a full complement of books.
3. Either of two parts that complete the whole or mutually complete each other.

Frankly, if editor Small think’s Colonel Hewitt’s letter qualifies as a complement to his biased editorial policies, he’s nuts, but if that assuages his conscience, it also measures the man as aptly named.

The Gettysburg Times banner says “Adams County News First”. That is not always the case, and if the news is detrimental to local developers or certain politicians, it often won’t show up at all. If you want an unbiased picture of Adams County news, you must read the Hanover Evening Sun.

Not that it matters to the owners or to editor Small, but the good Colonel, and this blogger are not demanding a conservative bias, just an honest, responsible picture of the news. If you print something that turns out not to be correct, clean it up.

The Times does not serve the people of Adams County. It serves a privileged few in one class, who have the money and power to pave over the county, and the very few liberals, greenies and libertarians that inhabit the county. The Times has no soul, and no spine but the dollar.

It’s a wonder they have any readers at all.

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