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Ennis Daily News

Bias is often in the eye of the beholder

Sometimes there are misconceptions about local news media, what we do and why we do it. I’d like to try to clear up some of that.
I am not going to speak on behalf of everyone in Ellis County journalism – whether it’s print, television, radio or even online (which sometimes stretches the definition of the term “journalism”) – but I will give you some information about what a lot of Negative Nancy folks think is going on when they say the media is “covering up” a story or rumor.
I will take Byron Walker’s recent brush with the law as an example. This isn’t a debate on whether the former city commissioner is guilty or innocent of the crime a former business partner has accused him of. The fact is the charges against him from Clay County authorities have been dropped and Walker can take all the pleasure in the world to say a big “I told you so” to all the naysayers who have condemned him since his arrest in March.
The point of my piece today is to explain to everyone who complains about our paper “dropping” the story after the city election why nothing was heard for such a long time. Here it is. Are you ready for it? Nothing happened.
That’s right. The reason you heard nothing about it was because nothing had changed. Walker’s case was supposed to go before the Clay County court, however, after several months of being postponed the case was dropped and the charges were dismissed unless more evidence is presented supporting the claim that Walker forged signatures to receive financing for a horse trailer.
The news media is in a position that if we leave a story alone for too long then we are accused of aiding in a conspiracy of epic proportions allowing guilty scum to walk the earth free of blame. Yet if we hammer a story continuously then we are heartless piranhas who won’t respect the privacy of innocent citizens.
Regarding Byron Walker, as soon as I found out the charges were dropped, I made numerous phone calls to Clay County officials and attorneys to find out the details of the story. It took a few days longer than I had hoped because the Clay County district attorney was busy in court until Friday, but as soon as I heard from him about why the charges were dropped I typed up the story and had it out to you the following day.
I can’t be any more fair. It was a fact that Walker was arrested prior to the election. I reported that. It was a fact the charges were dropped following his loss in said election. I reported that. I didn’t choose the timing of when these events occurred and I had no intention to report the story just to sway the election results. To be honest with you, the person sitting in that seat on Monday nights doesn’t affect how I cover the meetings. You could put a neo-Nazi nudist on the City Commission and I would cover the meetings the same way, though I’ve got to admit it would probably make them a whole lot more interesting.
Again, I don’t speak for other publications in this city or county, but when it comes to reporting the news, I do the best job I can and present all sides in a balanced and fair article. If you have a problem with the story then write a letter to the editor telling us how you feel, but don’t say I am being biased because that is certainly not the truth.

Matt Cook is a staff writer at the Ennis Daily News and can be reached at matt@ennisdailynews.com

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Posted by on Aug 21 2008. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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