Monday, June 23, 2008

News-Sentinel Abuses Press Freedom

The Knoxville News-Sentinel-or rather Jack McElroy-showed its true colors as a proponent of metropolitan government in Knox County on Sunday by not only editorializing in favor of the petitions to radically reshape Knox County government, but printed the petition in the Sunday paper, inviting people to sign them and send them in. By far the most dangerous of the two petitions is the so-called orange petition:

The orange petition calls for making changes on County Commission, including strong policies on nepotism, conflict of interest, prohibiting commissioners from being employed by county government and reducing the size of the commission from 19 to 11 members, with two elected at large.

The petitioners, who seem to be egged on by the News-Sentinel and apparently some rather wealthy and powerful people who have long favored metropolitan government in Knox County. Many people are signing this petition in the name of having "a voice," but many do not realize that they are actually signing away a part of their representation on the Knox County Commission, as reducing its members from 19 to 11 is a move that would almost certainly favor West Knoxville, West Knox County, and Farragut at the expense of Powell, South Knoxville, and East Knox County.

The News-Sentinel is free to speak out in favor of whatever initiatives its editorial board should choose. Printing the petitions free in the pages of the newspaper while asking other political causes to pay for their advertising space destroys any claim the News-Sentinel may have to journalistic objectivity, however. In no way can the News-Sentinel be relied upon to give accurate stories free from their own editorial spin where Knox County politics are concerned. Jack McElroy and his editorial board have chosen to place their opinion about government ahead of honesty in reporting. This may be their First Amendment right, but the KNS has shown that as an institution it knows better than few others how best to abuse its freedom of the press.

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