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We love daily newspapers (sort of)

Fri, Mar 20, 2009

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If you want one good reason why daily newspapers are important to our Democracy, check out this story, published this morning in the Greeley Tribune.

“GREELEY – Greeley Mayor Ed Clark told Greeley radio station KFKA Thursday morning that he hopes the Greeley Tribune closes.

Clark made his comments during an interview on the Amy Oliver Show on KFKA Thursday morning when asked about the Tribune’s coverage, editorial board and editorials critical of his leadership that have appeared since the beginning of his tenure.

Telling Oliver that he won’t run again for mayor, Clark told Oliver that he hopes the Tribune closes.

“You try things in your adult life. I was very successful at law enforcement. Politics is gonna be something, I’m gonna take away a bunch of good with it. There’s gonna be some baggage,” Clark said. “I’m not leaving Greeley. I love this town, and I only want the best for Greeley, and, uh, I only want the worst for the Tribune. I hope they fold.”

“Those are strong words,” Oliver said after a slight pause in reply to Clark.

“Yeah, well, I stand behind them,” Clark then said. “I think they haven’t done us a service as a community. So, I stand behind what I say. I don’t think that is a fair newspaper.”

The Tribune employs about 140 people in Greeley in advertising, production, the newsroom and circulation.

Clark and Oliver didn’t immediately return phone calls seeking comment Thursday.

In his comments, Clark was also critical of Tribune’s coverage of him — calling it biased, was critical of the Tribune editorial board and defended his actions including detaining a teen on the ground in his neighborhood and showing children at University School a fake $3 bill depicting President Barack Obama in a Middle Eastern headdress.

“That paper is probably one, um, of the biggest detractors from our community,” Clark said.

Mayor Clark is, to put it kindly, a lout and a buffoon. His behavior is not atypical of small town mayors, or councilmembers, or county commissioners, or state representatives, or county clerk & recorders.

I suspect that many petty elected officials only behave because they know that the big, bad daily newspaper is out there, taking names & kicking butt. Absent a daily which is professional, accountable, and factual in its reporting, the Ed Clarks of the world would seldom be called to account-at least, not in any effective way. Weeklies, bloggers, and local websites might go after them, but those so targeted soon learn to respond by attacking the attackers.

The blogger? “Just some guy with a grudge and a laptop!” The weekly? “Just a bunch of lefties writing lies in the skanky alternative! They should stick to running ads for escorts-and maybe we need to do something about that!!??”

We compete with the Gazette, but we also want them to succeed. A city without a strong, vibrant, credible daily would be weakened and damaged. “If the cat’s away, the mice will play”-but what happens if the cat leaves town?

So to our friends at the Gazette: Rock On! Get those stories-except for the really important ones, which we’ll report on…just trying to help you out.

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