This morning’s Post-Standard, as read on Syracuse.com, leads with a story headlined “Syracuse power brokers pushing I-81 tunnel, boulevard instead of elevated highway,” written by Teri Weaver with contributions from Sean Kirst under the auspices of managing editor Stan Linhorst.
I am very interested in knowing who are the “Syracuse power brokers” and I am interested in knowing what they are pushing, so I read the story and here’s who Weaver writes about (all direct quotes):
• key power brokers
• political leaders, business leaders and several civic organizations
• Destiny USA mall execs
• nobody with clout
• Department of Transportation
• Destiny USA
• the region’s state lawmakers and the SAVE 81 group of business owners.
• DOT transportation officials
• Destiny USA officials and other key local leaders
• public sentiment and private conversations
• many community leaders
• elected officials, business leaders, labor unions and developers
• state’s Department of Transportation
• Some people
• readers on Syracuse.com
• Other key people and institutions . . . Syracuse University, and Upstate Medical University
• community leaders
• the state
• State officials
• other state officials
• two camps
• Destiny USA executives, state lawmakers, the building and trades unions, and an advocacy group SAVE 81
• ReThink 81, and Moving People Transportation Coalition
• The state
• DOT officials
• he and others
I am appalled. I thought that a news reporter’s job was to ask people questions, write down their names, positions and what they said, then write a story using that information. Instead, what I find is that the reporter is saying a lot of things that aren’t attributed to anyone. This is a reporter’s editorial, not a news story.
The story is exactly 1000 words in length; clearly, an assignment editor said something like “Give me a thousand words on Rt. 81” and Weaver did exactly that. The first one-third of the story does not contain a single quote. The remainder of the story has the following quotes:
• “It seems pretty uniform that no one wants the overhead structure to stay,” Kenan [Destiny Mall] said referring to many community leaders.
• “Frankly, I haven’t heard a large number of stakeholders say that a larger, wider highway through the city is a good idea,” said Rob Simpson, who heads CenterstateCEO,
• “We’re favoring the hybrid plan,” said Mark Nicotra, the Salina supervisor who helped form SAVE 81
• “I think what these two latest versions show: all of the plans from the DOT were unsatisfactory,” said Ryan McMahon, chairman of the Onondaga County Legislature.
• “I think people are looking at the six of these and saying, ‘I don’t like any of them,'” said Tony Mangano, who owns the Ramada Inn “They’re all tied for sixth place.”
• “You don’t have to accept what we’re recommending,” DOT’s I-81 Project Director Frechette said “That’s why we’re here today.”
• “Even if it is more expensive, this is a long, long term solution,” DeFrancisco said. “It seems to me it’s something that to be considered.”
• “Absolutely,” DeFrancisco said “You’re going to hear a lot more people in favor of (a viaduct).”
That’s 182 words out of the 1000 that were written. Why are the direct statements of these people being buried in 818 other words? There are references to “Department of Transportation, DOT, DOT transportation officials, state’s Department of Transportation, the state, State officials, other state officials, the state, and DOT officials.” Man, that sounds heavy. This Teri Weaver person must have spent a lot of time on the phone talking to a lot of people and she really knows what she’s writing about, right?
Then how come it all comes down to one person and one quote: “You don’t have to accept what we’re recommending,” DOT’s I-81 Project Director Frechette said “That’s why we’re here today.”
The published story gives me every reason to believe that the reporter doesn’t know shit and that the Post-Standard is manipulating public opinion instead of reporting the facts. I want names, job titles and direct quotes and you know why I want them?
So I can hold people accountable. I want to know who said what so that I can judge for myself the value of the statement. Also, I want to be able to act as a citizen and follow up with these “power brokers.” I want to be able to write letters, make phone calls, or go visit these people so I can influence their decision-making and broke some power, too.
One of the things citizens hate the most is being manipulated by a handful of powerful people. Decisions we don’t like are being made in secret by people we can’t identify. The proper function of a good newspaper is to name people and report what they say so that active citizens can follow up. The Post-Standard doesn’t do this.
The Post-Standard comes from a long history of publishers Stephen Rogers and Stephen A. Rogers, father and son, using the newspapers to support their particular interests. “Syracuse power brokers” definitely includes Stephen A. Rogers, yet he is never named or quoted in this story. Perhaps the story in its entirety is to push Rogers’ personal agenda.
During the special prosecutor’s investigation of political corruption in Onondaga County in the 1980’s, the Syracuse Newspaper’s aggressive campaign was to (a) label the investigation a witch-hunt, (b) not report court decisions that favored the prosecution and (c) maintain an editorial posture that fully supported government officials who were found guilty under the law.
When a “60 Minutes” researcher read the Syracuse newspaper reports and the documents emanating from the court, he concluded that the Syracuse newspapers were acting to conceal the truth from the citizens. Stephen Rogers, the father, was the publisher.
It is the right and the responsibility of the citizens to make the decisions that affect their lives together. The citizens cannot do this without accurate information.
The Post-Standard continues its long practice of denying truth to the people. You will find more truth on Internet blogs than in the Post-Standard. That is one of the reasons why the Post-Standard is losing its circulation and tumbling into bankruptcy.
This opinion of the author has been exactly 1000 words.