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Unofficial stenography

This is a little old, but we just ran across it, and it should not pass without note: The proud assertion that a newspaper will run stories about malfeasance in government if and only if the “proper authorities” declare that, yes, they’d malfeased.

Coeur d’Alene has had more than its share of unfounded loose talk of late (you can track some of that in the excellent Huckleberries blog). But this paragraph in a November 7 Coeur d’Alene Press editorial jumps out at you:

If critics of the Coeur d’Alene City Council, Lake City Development Corp., Kroc Community Center, Mickey Mouse Retirement Village or any other publicly financed entities have proof of unethical or illegal activities by officials, produce it and let the proper authorities do their jobs. The Press will publish the outcomes of any such investigations upon their completion. In the meantime, our reporters will not be writing stories on allegations or speculation. Doing so would be an effective way to ruin an individual’s or organization’s credibility without due process, and we’re positive even the critics don’t want that.

Our job, the paper is saying, is to be stenographers of the officially-sanctioned story: Far be it from us to do any independent investigation, to try to determine any truths on our own. We’ll happily stick with press releases.

A hat tip on that to the Whitecaps blog, which commented: “Read that again carefully. The Coeur d’Alene Press said editorially it will not publish stories demonstrating unethical or illegal activities by officials unless the ‘proper authorities’ conduct an investigation and make the results public. Who would the ‘proper authorities’ be? The Mayor? The City Council? The LCDC Board? The Board of Directors of Mountain West Bank? The prosecuting attorney? Advertisers? Who? I wonder if it occurred to the editor and publisher of the Coeur d’Alene Press they have just said they will take reportorial direction from the ‘proper authorities?’ How can readers not reasonably conclude that if the ‘proper authorities’ want a story killed, it’s killed.”

In what’s becoming a one-newspaper town, it evidently will be.

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