Monday, July 30, 2007

An Open Letter to Mr. Patrick Lowry

This is an open letter to Mr. Patrick Lowry, publisher and editor of the Hays Daily News, from Jacinta Faber.

Dear Mr. Lowry,

I am writing this letter in response to your commentary, “Weather more tame than wind arguments”, in the Hays Daily News of July 15, 2007. There were several errors made in your comments concerning my part in opposing the proposed wind project. One is a technical one. The quote you used from my open letter was published in the Ellis County Environmental Awareness blog (this blog) and was never published in the HDN, though you claimed all of your quotes came from the HDN.

The other mistake is the more important one. You took out of context my suggestion that a breach of journalistic ethics had been committed by the HDN with the endorsement of the wind project. If you read my letter more closely, you will find that my concern has been and continues to be your written support of the project early on in the debate. Newspapers, including the HDN, have a long history of taking editorial positions and backing political candidates. However, the endorsement comes at the end of the campaign--certainly not at the beginning. If you were to do endorse a candidate early in a campaign, your action would suggest that any subsequent coverage might be reflecting your editorial position and not be as objective as possible. I believe that your early endorsement of the industrial wind project negatively affected the coverage of this highly controversial issue.

Mr. Lowry, you seem to confuse constructive criticism with a personal attack. My intention is not to attack but to question what appears to be problematic media coverage. You have a gold mine of potential stories to investigate, beginning with David Yearout, the consultant for the zoning commission, to the obvious conflict of interest within the zoning commission along with irregularities in following the zoning regulations. Instead, you rely on a “ he said, she said” form of journalism with little concern for the validity of the claims.

I understand that investigative reporting may be a thing of the past for small town newspapers and that your profit comes from advertising. You may not want to bite the hand that feeds you, but it causes me to wonder: what is the purpose of the HDN’s existence? Arguably, the industrial wind project is the biggest story to hit Ellis County. I believe you are missing a golden opportunity to do some real investigative journalism and actually make a difference in the lives of those residing in Ellis County. It is probably too late for that, but it is never too late to learn from your mistakes.

Jacinta Faber

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