How your news sausage was made:
Is the Sierra County Prospect Too Irreverent toward our elected officials?
The other day the Prospect got a message that someone thought we were too irreverent towards the Board of Supervisors, and maybe to elected officials all together.
We disagree, and here are five reasons why:
- Politicians often surround themselves with events to make themselves look smarter, more knowing, better connected and wiser than they are. Showing unwarranted reverence for people who often have huge egos to begin with can quickly get out of hand. We don’t know who the first megalomaniac leader was, and we haven’t seen the last. You owe it to yourself and your nation to puncture over-inflated politicos and other public figures. This applies to journalists and editors as well, indeed, as a group, politicos and the press share a lot.
- We don’t work for the supervisors, or the County, or government people of any kind. We work for you, our readers. If a reader writes in and says, "hey, you’re a jerk to the board" we’ll probably tone it down, until someone on the street says, "hey I won’t read the board notes unless there is something to laugh about" and then we’ll ham it up again. In the words of Anthony Bourdain, "audiences prefer snarky."
- We cut political people slack ALL the time. We don’t report every stupid thing they say, or every time they do something embarrassing because 1. Their private lives are still their own; and 2. They’re just folks, like all of us. We forgive each other little foibles in a polite society. Besides, when you quote someone saying something stupid, they’re duty bound to live up to it, and we try not to encourage that.
- It comes with the territory. When you are a public figure, or edit a newspaper, people are going to say some hurtful things. Sometimes a person has to have a sense of humor. If something isn’t really that funny, you’ll need extra sense of humor.
- What we’ve been saying about the Board recently is this: they work hard together, they remain upbeat and positive in the face of uncertainty (a special kind of courage), they are courteous and professional even in disagreement. We used words like "mutual admiration society". What we’ve been saying about Tim Beals, for example, is that he wears more hats than a busy mom, which is saying a lot. We acknowledge the work load he has, and his ability to work in very different regulatory venues. Even Tom McClintock gets fair treatment for his efforts. Also, see number 4., above.
As far as we know, it isn’t slander (or is it libel?) to say that a publicly elected official is efficient and fair with the gavel, or to suggest that a public employee works hard. If we make light of it, and it’s what our reader prefer, so be it.
Mr. Snarky, Anthony Bourdain From Wiki
Snarky; adj. "a manner of cynicism and irony or sarcasm."
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Your comments on the Board of Supervisors and other political people
were good and true.... if only you could take yourself less
seriously.... life would be perfect...