The proper role of the press

IS THIS lazy journalism or simply a known lack of balance? I write in response to the article in last week's Mercury concerning the plight of the director of children and young services and the disciplinary procedure taken against him

IS THIS lazy journalism or simply a known lack of balance?I write in response to the article in last week's Mercury concerning the plight of the director of children and young services and the disciplinary procedure taken against him.I do not intend to dwell on the rights and wrongs - this is certainly more complex than you reported and reflects a significant change in the organisation of children's services; I would be surprised if certain anomalies hadn't arisen in the tortuous process - especially as North Somerset Council seems so good at miring virtually all it does in poorly organised, poorly planned and shamelessly political shenanigans. Given the opportunity to save 'peanuts' and score cheap political points, the politicos of the authority will stop at nothing, confident in their ability to draw on the support of the bemused 'backwoodsmen' of the council chamber (bemused because of the recent Government audit of local services - the JAR - which spoke so well of education and the beginnings of a children's service here). However, what does disturb me is the supine nature of the article - pandering as it does to the vaunting ego of such an individual as Mike Roe - a political creature if there ever was one; I almost chocked on the heavy whiff of self-congratulation, the sickly aftertaste of the self-vindicating crusader. As an editor, you really should have known better than to give such unfettered coverage to someone with such an overtly political axe to grind as Mike Roe - virtually the whole article is a direct quote from him! And you knew full well that no one - not Colin Diamond, not the chief executive, not Peter Kehoe, nor anyone else following the rules about commenting on issues of work place discipline or competence - could have answered back. You simply allowed yourself to be sucked into Mike Roe's one-man self- (and his political party's) -promotion and left your paper open to his manipulation aimed at him taking the political moral high ground for his political gain.No question of who leaked the confidential material - I suppose it is too much to expect even this sense of balance here. I am not the least bit interested in the politics of North Somerset but I am, as a student of political philosophy, interested in the proper role of the press in democracy.You have let us all down by your fawning to this 'political animal' knowing there would be no opportunity to create a balanced view. Shame on you!Naturally, I dare you to print this.Please withold my name because of my position.NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED* EDITOR'S NOTE: Thank you for the dare. In my opinion, your attack on the Weston & Somerset Mercury, and Cllr Roe, seems misplaced. We believe the actions taken by highly paid individuals working in the public sector should be open to scrutiny. The Mercury knows its proper role - it is to inform our readers on issues which affect them and surely they have the right to know how their money is spent by people who hold the public pursestrings. Presumably Cllr Roe agrees with us. Rest assured, we fully understand the role of the press in a democracy. Do you?


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