November 26, 2020

Stevens County Times

Your spot for community news in Stevens County, Minnesota

Not Just A Reporter’s Opinion

It is always good to learn new things and in this job, I am constantly learning. I did just that the other day when I realized that I had missed a Morris City Council meeting. I asked people from the city office if they tape the meeting and learned that they video tape the meetings and put them on YouTube under the City of Morris website.

I went home and watched the meeting I had missed, and was able to write an article from that meeting. During the meeting, there was some question raised about things written in the newspaper and it was stated that “it is just one reporter’s opinion.”

I take pride in getting the facts and sharing the news with accuracy. With my new education tool in hand, I went back to watch the meeting in question, Nov. 26, 2019. About 32 minutes into the meeting, the council members discuss the water softening situation. I now ask any of you who have questions about this, to take the time and watch the recorded proceedings. You can then be the judge as to the accuracy of what was printed in the newspaper.

It would be impossible for a reporter to print everything that is stated at a meeting. For one thing, no one would read it due to the length. Discussions need to be condensed and the major points pulled out to feature in the article. That is at the discretion of the writer but usually involves the key issues and what was said about them.

Another point I would like to raise is that the newspaper story about the meeting is going to be diff erent than the printed legal minutes. The legal minutes contain only the actions taken and not the discussion that led to it. If there was only discussion, and no action, nothing will be written in the legal minutes. That is one of the reasons it is important for news media to cover meetings, to let the public know about discussions before the action is taken.

I can see from the reactions of the public to the water softener discussion that there are many differing opinions. It would only be fair for the newspaper to attempt to get the facts from the other side so watch for a story from the water softener company point of view. Here again, I caution you to consider all sides and all opinions before deciding that only one viewpoint is correct. 

In the end, we can all figure out if the water is soft  or not through our usage. Like someone recently told me, if it starts to leave a ring in the toilet, the water softener is going to be turned back on.

Katie Erdman
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