Published: 9/14/2019 3:49:18 PM
While there is much to dispute in Bob Dane’s “My Turn” (Aug. 31) about the fate of Heath’s school building, my larger concern is with the Recorder’s editorial decisions. For several reasons, this screed should not have been published.
First, balance. It isn’t Bob Dane’s “Turn.” This is his second bite of the apple, with no reply from the other side — and, although readers whose sole information source is the Recorder would never know, there is another side.
Second, the headline, “Heath’s autocracy.” Headlines shape a reader’s initial sense of a story; they must be immediately inferable from the text. Dane nowhere alleges that Heath is a victim of one-person rule, the definition of “autocracy.” Even for an opinion piece, the headline editorializes flagrantly.
Third, incomplete facts. Dane asserts that of the seven volunteers for appointment to a facilities assessment committee, only two were chosen by the Selectboard. He omits the fact that one of the unchosen five was Dane himself.
Fourth, empty accusations. Dane asserts “there is still certainly a conflict of interest evident in [Selectboard chair Brian DeVriese and his wife’s] behavior.” He offers no evidence. Dane asserts that the new publication “Heath Town Talk” makes unsubstantiated claims. He offers no evidence. Dane asserts that moving Heath’s offices to the school building is “contrary to the wishes of the majority of Heath citizens.” He offers no evidence. But there is evidence — absent from Dane’s “My Turn” — that the majority of Heath voters did not want to sell the school building: two democratic votes.
Many years ago I was a reporter and copy editor for the Providence Journal. That experience tells me that the Recorder did not serve its readership well in covering the controversy over the proposed — and twice rejected — sale of Heath School. We deserve and expect better.
Donald C. Freeman