As local and national news sources ask questions of the NEOMG leaders as to why they pulled a video they’d previously made public, and those questions remain unanswered, it’s important to put down for the record why we care that the video has been removed and why it matters that the news outlet that created and publicly published and tweeted out the existence of that video has a) removed it and b) failed to explain publicly its removal.
1. NEOMG has wanted us to look to them for our political candidate news and at their tools, to which they regularly direct us, for helping us make decisions. They have reminded us of this multiple times just in the last year. They place screen-level widgets on their webpages that let us access what they’ve selected to publish. Therefore, when they do things like highlight how they can help us learn about political candidates and then pull the very resources that help us, without explanation, that removal becomes the focus of scrutiny.
2. NEOMG has placed themselves in the crosshairs of accessing political candidate information at a time when candidates for public office are declining to provide general public access, as opposed to campaign rallies. By NEOMG publishing a full page front page editorial acknowledging this role they play, they further embed this role in our consciousness, so that when they then remove a previously public and published and publicized video of our gubernatorial candidates, they look hopelessly hypocritical, among other things.
3. Whether we like it or not, NEOMG is the only news outlet of its size covering Northeast Ohio. We have numerous other, excellent sources – WCPN, State Impact Ohio, Ohio Statehouse News Bureau, Crain’s Cleveland Business, Cleveland Scene. And nearly all of them have indicated their interest in learning why NEOMG removed the video. So it’s not just us – it’s numerous other relevant players in the NE Ohio media ecosystem.
4.. We want to trust and believe. Just as no one wakes up asking to be poor, no one wakes up hoping that their news provider will fail to be transparent or less than editorially honest with us.
5. We are a community striving hard in many areas. And so, when our experience with the region’s legacy news outlet is one of obfuscation in relation to the election of our state’s governor – a candidate and sitting elected who is making moves to run for president of the United States and already has a track record of using any means necessary to prevent transparency (which the NEOMG has pointed out multiple times), NEOMG’s failure to provide a public explanation, let alone leave the video up, goes beyond a kick in the collective gut. Absent even the lamest of public explanations, this behavior lends itself to an interpretation that they don’t care how their behavior jeopardizes the community’s striving toward high expectations, high standards and high achievement, particularly in the areas of openness, transparency or public engagement. And, it would seem, again absent their public explaining, that they don’t care that we care. How ironic that this mirrors the very behavior we would see on display in the video we cannot currently access in its entirety.
6. We’ve been educated to see the media as a watchdog. But this episode makes us ask, whose watchdog is NEOMG?
7. This episode contributes to the erosion of trust in multiple systems – journalism, politics, leadership structures, business models and in a blatant, public way.
There’s much more that could be added to this list – feel free to in the comments. But perhaps the most ironic element, as alluded to in yesterday’s post, is this: What used to be called mainstream media used to blame the erosion of trust in the news industry on the Internet and its use by non-professional writers and ordinary people. Now who is to blame?
*I’m headed to a discussion with women from around the world on the role of women in the U.S. in politics and the media and have run out of time to add the hyperlinks needed. I will provide them later today but for now, you can read it just like an old-time print op-ed, with no use for hyperlinks! Most hyperlinks are now inserted.