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Thursday, August 16, 2007

No news is bad news

When letters, phone calls and e-mails start coming in Monday morning, we know we've done our job to get people reading the paper.

I'll take any kind of feedback over no feedback at all.

Here are excerpts of a few of the comments we've received in the last few weeks:

First, in the previous post on this blog, there have been several reader posts about the United States' involvement in Afghanistan. I wrote in in the post accompanying our story on Lt. Col. John Loomer of Delavan that even if you didn't agree with his assertion that the United States shouldn't be pulling out, his voice deserves to be heard because he'd actually been there.

That elicited this comment from an anonymous poster, "Regardless of any good being done, it is outweighed by the fact that it is an illegal war which is bankrupting our country.

"We need to mind our own business, bring our troops home and take care of our own problems. You can expect more bridge collapses and terror attacks because we have left our country unprotected and destroyed our military."

A post signed by Bradley Geyer asserts that, "The Bush administration had plans ready to attack Afghanistan prior to September 11, 2001. They just needed an excuse."

Speaking of Sept. 11, our letters to the editor have made it to Texas apparently, where Michael Benninger of Fort Worth e-mailed to say he agreed with Bernie Dalsey's guest opinion of a few weeks ago.

Dalsey is one of several regular letter writers alleging the government's conspiracy in the Sept. 11 attacks. In Benninger's letter (read his entire letter on 7A in the Sunday, Aug. 19, 2007 print edition), he writes that the reason the government's role in Sept. 11 hasn't been reported is that the mainstream media are in on it, too.

The other obvious reason is that there is no real evidence that the government was behind the attacks. There's no journalist that I know who would sit on a story like that.

The other point is that citizens should question their government.

On that point, I totally agree. The public shares as much blame as any politician or journalist for abetting the rush toward war. Perhaps if the average citizen was as critical of our national leaders as they are of their local politicians, our country wouldn't be in the current mess in Iraq that it is.

Here's another national issue with local fallout: The raid at Whitewater's Star Packaging that was either an immigration raid or a false identity theft raid, depending on who you talk to.

Our stories last week on a rally marking the one-year anniversary of the raid prompted Dan Emelity of Elkhorn to write that he agreed that our immigration system needs revamping. (read his entire letter on 7A in the Sunday, Aug. 19, 2007 print edition.)

"The sooner the better," he wrote. "However, the answer to a broken system is not to cheat, lie and break American laws.

"The articles presented only the human side of the illegal immigrants. That's fine but totally incomplete and unbalanced."

I replied that we're guilty of the accusation that we tend to focus to a certain degree on the human side of the story.

As a weekly newspaper, we don't cover the depth and complexity of the immigration issue. We leave that to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

When the issue affects people here in Walworth County however, we feel we can make a contribution to the national debate by reporting issues and incidents here in Walworth County.

As for the time we spend on "the human side," we include that because it's the best way to draw readers from all points of view into the story. If people don't read it, we've accomplished nothing.

We also published video of the Whitewater rally on our Web site and posted the clip on YouTube.

Comments there took a decidedly unsympathetic tone, such as, "Why would they be separated from their children? Wouldn't they take their children with them?"

Or, "The Bible also says obey your country's laws. You're breaking ours. Go back home."

Finally, an anonymous letter writer has had just about enough of David Malsch, who writes our movie reviews in the Thursday edition of The Week.

We don't run political columnists in The Week because we just don't have the space to present the diversity of political views that can be found among the residents of Walworth County. We don't run editorials for the same reason.

What we hope to do is add to the political discourse by presenting relative and factual information. The opinions that readers attach to those stories is up to them.

In any case, considering Malsch has given five-star reviews to the last two Michael Moore films, I'm thinking his political leanings aren't too hard to figure out.

The anonymous letter writer, who colorfully refers to Malsch as "David bin Laden," wrote in a one-page tiny-type letter, "For an eternity, I have hoped to read just one, single movie review in The Week that does not contain the anti-American hate speech of your movie reviewer David bin Laden.

"I have lately accepted having to end each article feeling upset by the reminder that every newspaper from New York to Walworth County is run by the left-wing minority.

"I even thought there was a culmination of sorts when bin Laden was able to squiggle in another great bash of President Bush in a review of the Simpson's.

"You, Mr. Plutchak," he continues, "should be ashamed-absolutely, positively ashamed-to allow this in the movie review section of your paper."

Objections noted, and I've passed along the complete letter to Malsch. But mostly, I'm glad that, like it our hate it, readers keep on reading.


1 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

> I read your Editor's Note column from 8/19/07. You state "The other
obvious
> reason is that there is no real evidence that the government was
behind the
> attacks." I would say there's evidence that the government was
directly
> involved in the attacks and that's why there needs to be a new
independent
> investigation to uncover that evidence and shine a light on it.
Let's start
> with a closeup frame by frame analysis of the planes hitting the
buildings.
> It appears from that analysis that the planes weren't passenger
planes. They
> appear to be military planes. In the same pictures it appears as
though
> there are helicopters circling the buildings never making an attempt
to
> rescue any of the victims. Who was flying these helicopters and who
did they
> belong to? Has the government or the major media provided the
American
> people with this frame by frame closeup analysis? At the Pentagon
since
> there was no visible plane debris left from the crash. What
happened there?
> Many
> people in the Pentagon reported smelling cordite which is a product
of a
> missile not a plane. Who has missiles capable of hitting the
Pentagon?
> Perhaps our military. Who gave the orders to the FBI to confiscate
the
> pictures taken by cameras from businesses surrounding the Pentagon.
The FBI
> showed up at these businesses almost instantly. Why haven't we seen
these
> pictures? There was no visible airplane debris where Flight 93
supposedly
> crashed in Pennsylvania - only a smoking hole in the ground, much
like a bomb
> crater. Who has bombs capable of making that kind of hole in the
ground?
> Perhaps our military. No official agency (FAA, FBI, or the
airlines) has
> ever released a list of the 9/11 passengers. But within hours, the
FBI
> released a list of the hijackers. Why is this? Multiple air-defense
drills
> were planned for the morning of 9/11. These exercises left only two
fighter
> jets available to protect the entire Northeastern United States.
Why did
> our
> military move this protection away from the Northeastern US on that
> morning? The rubble from the Twin Towers collapse was carted away
and the
> steel sold and shipped overseas without examination. Why wasn't
there a
> normal crime scene investigation done? Were the explosives used in
the three
> buildings commercial or military explosives? Testing the residue
would have
> told us that. Should we have gotten the results of that testing?
Enormous
> profits were made by insiders on plummeting stock prices of the two
airlines
> involved in 9/11 - American and United. Federal law protects their
> identities. Accepting victims' compensation barred 9/11 families
from
> further discovery through litigation. Tests have shown that cell
phone calls
> cannot be made at altitudes over 4000 to 8000 feet as cell towers are
located
> on the ground. Commercial airliners fly at 30,000 feet and above.
No
> passenger could have successfully placed a call for help by cell
phone from
> an airborne plane
> on 9/11, as reported. Were these calls actually made from the
ground not
> the air? Where were these calls made from? Much of the above has
already
> been investigated by very reputable people. I would hope the
government
> would have the courage to investigate and make official what is
already known
> by a large group of the American people. This is a very critical
issue in
> American history. The American people deserve the truth about what
really
> happened on 9/11. Thank you very much for time.

6:31 PM  

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