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A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE
Last week, we published a letter to the editor from a local reader who now attends university in Waco, and we were pleased to do so despite his negative opinion of our coverage.
Mr. Edwards took issue with what he described as our lack of “competent and fair reporting” on topics that he believes matter to the people of our area. He cited examples that included teachers having sexual relationships with students and “vast political incompetence by leaders.”
In our defense, it should be noted that we have, in fact, reported on cases involving teachers having relationships with students, the most recent being covered only a few months ago.
We have also reported at length on matters addressed by our locally elected officials, notably city councilors, and we have quoted them and other government representatives often.
It is not up to us to determine whether people in public office are incompetent. We leave that decision to those who put them there, namely the voters. This, after all, is a democratic system, as Mr. Edwards pointed out, and we do not presume to tell the general public what it should think of someone. Instead, we will report on what elected officials say and do, and let those words and deeds speak for themselves.
Further examples offered in Mr. Edwards’ letter include an apparent failure by the police to protect the public, and one should hope that in this case and in others Mr. Edwards would offer some illumination.
We politely refer Mr. Edwards to our parent company, the Uvalde Leader-News, for coverage of law enforcement action that many in that community continue to question. We need to clarify that the Frio-Nueces Current’s coverage area does not extend to Uvalde County.
I must say that we appreciate Mr. Edwards’ letter and note that we do not shy from publishing submissions that are critical of our work. We welcome feedback and are not afraid to make public someone’s description of our coverage as lacking in competence or fairness. We may beg to differ, as is our right, but we will publish it nonetheless, provided it is not submitted anonymously.
In response to a call for the newspaper to investigate those who need to be investigated (and Mr. Edwards indicated “all of them do”), it is worth pointing out that we have on a number of occasions uncovered facts of which some elected officials may have preferred their constituents did not have knowledge, notably malfeasance by members of municipal and county government. Again, however, the newspaper published only the facts of the matter, and allowed the investigation itself to be conducted by the appropriate authorities. Ultimately, voters were able to use those facts in determining whether certain officials should remain in office.
In that respect, the democratic system worked, after all.
In return for our persistence in covering what we are able to cover (there isn’t a newspaper in the world that isn’t short-staffed or has enough space to report on every last event in a community), we have been dealt hate mail, public slander, social media libel, threats and physical assault. Our offices have been vandalized, our computers stolen and telephone lines cut; and I have twice been shot at by people who must have believed deadly violence was the only resort in a clash of opinions.
We continue to stand by our news reporting as being without bias or opinion. If, as Mr. Edwards believes, this general geographical area is “flooded with corruption, incompetence and inequalities” (only one of which, by the way, is a punishable offense), then we look forward to the day on which he may, according to his promise of becoming a well educated professional in jurisprudence, set out to prosecute those who have violated the public trust.
And we will be there when he does so.