The hearing for a lawsuit filed against the mayor and the City Council of Statesboro by a group of local businessmen is to be heard on August 31.
The lawsuit charges the violation of Sunshine laws where private meetings and decisions were made that led to the firing of many fine employees. This hearing comes on the heels of former lawsuits filed against the city for wrongful termination of employees.
The fact that the city settled in both of those cases, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, raises serious question as to whether the city could have won in court. Are settlements being made to keep people silent?
Despite growing public concern by citizens in this community over such issues there has been a glaring absence of comment or investigative coverage by the Statesboro Herald.
Where is the voice of the editor in these controversies?
Why has there been no investigative reporting? I am not suggesting that the editor or reporters for the Statesboro Herald make their own accusations or conclusions about any of the former cases or about the hearing that is to come.
What I am maintaining is that the Statesboro Herald has an obligation to identify problems in our community and to serve as a medium for thoughtful deliberation about them. We depend on the media to serve as the watchdog over our government and we rely on journalists to uncover errors and wrongdoings by those who have power over our purse and our lives.
While I applaud the paper for having done a good job in providing information to us about candidates during the primary season, it has failed miserably in commenting on or providing information about our local representatives who have an even greater impact on our lives.
The print media in a small community like Statesboro constitutes the backbone of our democracy here.
The Statesboro Herald should be offering objective news and information so that citizens can make informed decisions about city government.
Is it not the job of the editor to have his/her pulse on what happens in the community and to be an objective but informative voice for citizens? The lack of editorials on these subjects raises questions about the paper’s editorial independence. Why hasn’t the paper used its influence to raise public questions about these controversies? Why is the paper allowing council members and the mayor to avoid serious comment on any of these issues? Why has there been no aggressive investigative reporting of publicly available information?
If the Herald has attempted to be a more aggressive in acquiring information but has found representatives uncooperative or have come up against gag rules, why haven’t this information been made available to readers?
The Statesboro Herald needs to be providing information to us about local decisions and the behavior of our representatives so that we can form our own opinions about such serious community matters.
One of the most important democratic functions that we can expect from the media is to hold officials accountable for the way they exercise power. I would like to urge the Statesboro Herald to rethink its role in promoting democracy in our community and to reassess how the limited space in the paper might be better used to inform citizens about crucial issues. If I am wrong about my criticism, I am willing to stand corrected, but personally I would like to see less fluff in the newspaper and more serious journalism.