Editorial: Perspectives on news: its value, its meaning
Jan 12, 2014 | 651 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell — whose credentials also include American economist, social theorist and political commentator — said it quite eloquently when he spoke to the issue of news reporting.

This talented native of North Carolina who was raised in Harlem, N.Y., offered this: “If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly.”

We agree.

We also believe this: News is so often a matter of perspective. What is important to some may be little more than casual conversation to others.

It is in keeping with this belief that our newspaper each year — in late December and early January — presents what our news writers and editors believe are the Top 10 Newsmakers of the Year. We allow this annual vote because 1) it serves as a fitting review of the year; 2) it provides a rare opportunity for our news team to lend their voices to the newsmaking process because at any other time of year they are charged with safeguarding roles that remain sacred to us, like objectivity and fairness; and 3) it allows our readers to compare their own thoughts on what they believe impacts the community.

It is not rocket science.

It is not based upon a complicated theorem or complex formula.

It is not biased.

To quote a modern adage whose use is as simple as it is relevant, “It is what it is.”

In that vein, our news team voted their beliefs and our readers appreciated the chance to look back while offering their own rankings. Our guess is a survey of 500 people likely would have netted 500 unique lists.

And that’s as it should be. News is a fact of life. The interpretation of its value is quite another.

In order of their weighted votes, our news staff selected these for their Top 10 Newsmakers of 2013, as summarized in our recent front-page series that spanned 1 1/2 weeks worth of editions: 1) Wacker; 2) Cleveland Regional Jetport; 3) Veterans Home; 4) conviction of Natasha Moses Bates; 5) Cleveland’s rise to 25th among “Best-Performing Small Cities”; 6) Exit 20 construction project; 7) District Attorney General Steve Bebb; 8) the closure of the Cleveland High School Raider Dome; 9) legislation allowing weapons in public schools; and 10) the retirement of Cleveland Chief of Police Wes Snyder.

Perhaps the most compelling part of this Top 10 list is the reaction of others. Some will agree with most. Others will agree with little. A few will disagree with it all.

And that’s the beauty of news. It is what it is or it ain’t what it ain’t.

Did the Wacker story deserve No. 1? The company increased its Bradley County investment to $2 billion while also delaying the opening of its high-tech plant until late 2015. To economic development strategists, it was huge.

State officials staggered the confidence of local leaders by rejecting a 28-acre plot of land intended for the Bradley/Cleveland State Veterans Home. Efforts are now underway to correct the issues. Was that the No. 3 story? To area veterans and their loved ones it probably should have been the top newsmaker.

Should the shutdown of the aging Raider Dome have been higher than No. 8? To school administrators, staff and faculty, as well as the Cleveland Board of Education and Cleveland City Council, it’s a predicament of unprecedented degree.

And what about all those splendid “Honorable Mentions” that received votes, but didn’t make the cut? A simple listing tells the story: Lee University, Dr. Carl Hite, Dustin’s Law, Dalton Pike, Bob Sain, Hardwick Clothes, Tom Wheeler, Resolute Forest Products, animal control and Meeri Shin, among so very many others.

Truly, 2013 was a newsy year.

And what of 2014?

We quote from our own story in last Wednesday’s edition: “More of the same.”

Happy New(s) Year, Bradley County!

Some of it will be good. Some will be bad. But either way, it surely will bring debate.