WEBB: As Coopertown’s Only Newspaper, Please Add Balance, Enlightenment

LETTER TO THE EDITOR from JOHN WEBB

As Cooperstown’s Only

Newspaper, Please Add

Balance, Enlightenment

To the Editor:

I have been taken aback in recent months by the stridently conservative rightwing posture of The Freeman’s Journal (and Hometown Oneonta), but the edition of Feb. 13 was particularly glaring, and that prompts me to write.

First of all, among other features, there was your long, space-consuming editorial calling for the repeal of the “Green Light Law” because it prohibits the State’s DMV from turning over information about undocumented license holders to U.S. immigration officials.

Then, in a nearby column, there was an op-ed article, not a letter to the editor, but an actual op-ed praising Trump’s State of the Union Address written by someone with no credentials for writing such a piece other than being a devoted right-wing Republican.

Needless to say, personally, I happen to be in total support of the Green Light Law, totally opposed to its repeal, and clearly of the mind that elected government officials, like the Otsego County clerk, should be sanctioned for their biased and illegal actions vis-a-vis the law’s implementation.

As for the op-ed about the State of the Union Address, I don’t think the writer and I heard the same speech. But I am not writing to state why I think both columns are off base. My concern is of a different ilk.

I remember very well the days when two weekly newspapers were published in Cooperstown, The Freeman’s Journal and The Otsego Farmer. Although it was not nearly as bad as it is now, there was indeed political polarization back then.

The Freeman’s Journal was considered a Democrat newspaper with the focus of its editorials and the reporting of certain kinds of news
events leaning toward a Democratic point of view. The Otsego Farmer was a Republican newspaper with editorials and news coverage reflecting that party’s perspective.

In fact, I knew of many Republicans who absolutely would not subscribe to or read The Freeman’s Journal, considering it nothing but Democrat propaganda, and there were at least equal numbers of Democrats who would have nothing to do with The Otsego Farmer for the same reasons, Republican propaganda.

The interesting thing is that, in spite of their definite political leanings, there was a far more balanced presentation of opinions and news coverage in each one of those newspapers than there is in today’s Freeman’s Journal. Neither one was as slanted as The Freeman’s Journal has become.

Now that there is only one weekly paper coming out of Cooperstown (The Town Crier doesn’t count, because it’s nothing but a rehashing of the Daily Star.) it would be refreshing, and readers would be much better served and better informed if The Freeman’s Journal were to provide a more balanced and, as a result, a more enlightened kind of journalism.

A good place to start might be to invite competent, well-informed writers to consider the issues at hand from different perspectives and then to devote equal space to the intelligent airing of divergent opinions.

JOHN B. WEBB
Cooperstown


2 thoughts on “WEBB: As Coopertown’s Only Newspaper, Please Add Balance, Enlightenment

  1. Joan Kollgaard

    Good for you, Mr. Webb. While I enjoy reading the Hometown Oneonta paper for its local news and pictures, I have also noted its consistently conservative views and editorials and bemoaned the fact that a small town paper takes political sides, even to the point of praising Trump’s controversial State of the Union Address (Along with Mr. Webb, I didn’t hear the same address as the writer of your op-ed piece apparently did.) I would like to see Hometown Oneonta continue its coverage of local events and news, and if reporting on local political issues, to present all responsible sides. There is already far too much divisiveness and partisanship on the national, state, and now, local stages.

  2. Janet Potter

    Mr. Webb has hit the nail on the head. Something has happened over the past few years that has changed this newspaper, and not for the better. This newspaper carved out a place for itself by covering local news and events in a fresh way. Only occasionally did the political leanings of the management color the news. The news stories and photos provided a window on our region that was enlightening and pleasure to read. I now find myself shaking my head, sometimes with disgust, and wondering why I bother.

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