Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Shawnee Dispatch Needs a New Reporter

Ever since Rob Roberts left the Shawnee Dispatch we have had a revolving door of folks covering the city.  The Dispatch will have to look very hard to find a replacement for Rob, as he told it the way it was.  The good, the bad and the ugly, and made a few enemies at city hall because of that. Various members of the city government have at times indicated that the Dispatch should basically be a cheer leader for the city, rather than actually report what was happening.

The most recent reporter for the Dispatch made it a point to email various city officials that he was relocating out of state, but I don't remember him writing a farewell note to the people of Shawnee. (KORA  requests can produce interesting documents)

Upon receiving his email the city manager responded: (underlining mine)

Michael, I am really, really sad to hear this news.  I want to thank you
for all you've done for Shawnee in a very short time - you brought a level
of professionalism to the Dispatch that had been sorely missing for several
years and had truly caused significant harm to this community.  Through
your diligence and energy, along with fact based and very well written
stories, you brought credibility back and made the Dispatch a community
newspaper again.   People have come to rely on it, and quote from it, and
it has helped our citizens and our businesses become more educated and more
engaged in a very positive way.
I know before you came here you knew nothing of Shawnee, Kansas, but you
jumped in with an open mind and you made it your mission to learn about us.
I can't begin to tell you how much we appreciate that, and I want you to
know that as you head down to Florida, you should be very proud that in the
brief time you were here, you made a significant impact.
On behalf of all of us here at the City, I wish you good health and much
happiness, and know that you will always be welcome here!

Any time a city manager praises a "journalist" so effusively, you know they're not doing their job. If they were doing their job they would be rattling some chains.  But, if a city manager is totally happy with a reporter, then by golly, is that person reporting, or are they a cheerleader for the city? Cheer leading can be harmful, as it does not allow for the citizens of the community to be told the full story.
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