This most recent controversy about personal behavior only reminds us that we are living in the age of “People” magazine, where everyone’s life is put on display, true or not.
Of course, having a standard against which persons serving in the public domain are judged is both necessary and important. Seen in that light, the recent spate of articles in the New Paltz Times regarding Mr. Kerr could be seen as serving the public interest, reporting done to inform the public about the deeds of its public servants. Is this not the role of a newspaper?
We can also reflect on the investigative article that this same paper ran this year on yet another member of the board. The article examined the long career of this member, years which had been accompanied by controversy. It was the result of extensive research, involving many hours of footwork and interviews. What you say! You don’t remember the article? The reason for that is it was never published. This article was withheld from publication by the editor of the New Paltz Times. It is relevant here because at the least, it spoke to a little-known fact that when this individual first ran for the school board, they were in the process of suing the school district. While I have not seen this article, I know enough to infer that much of the information would have given a fuller picture of the controversies and the story behind the story regarding this public servant. Why wasn’t this story published? Doesn’t the public have the right to know about this individual’s deeds, or misdeeds, as well?
Nevertheless the public was informed about this a few weeks ago in a letter to the editor. In it, the writer was responding to the present controversy. Pete Savago had written a letter critical of Mr. Kerr and taking him to task regarding the most recent allegations. The writer of the letter indicated that Mr. Savago questioning Mr. Kerr’s behavior was hypocritical in that Mr. Savago himself had been charged with DWI while serving in the UC legislature. The writer then questioned why the above-mentioned article had not been published, as I have done. What you say! You don’t remember that letter? In fact, these parts of the letter were redacted by the editor so once again, the public was not given the full story.
These actions would suggest that the New Paltz Times is not unbiased in its reporting of the news. Rather, it would seem that they pick and choose the stories that represent their point of view and in effect, use their news pages as an extension of their editorial point of view. The public is not given the full picture, but one that is selectively told by the paper to advance its own agenda.
If, on a local level, we are to remain an informed public, we must demand honest and unbiased reporting from our only source of print news. The failure of the New Paltz Times to live up to this standard as mentioned above, the excellent reporting of school board meetings by Mike Townsend notwithstanding, is a problem looking for a resolution. Without it, the public remains ill-served.