Last week, New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield said something that piqued my interest. In his first "Commissioners Chat" program on the county's government access channel, Commissioner Barfield made the statement that local media needs to be a "partner" of government to work for a positive agenda.
On the surface, that sounds really good. But it simply can't happen. I learned in ninth grade civics class that one of the responsibilities of a free press is to be a watchdog for the people.
I enjoy living here and want to see nothing but the best for this area. And I really want our government bodies to be successful. When positive things happen, we point it out, but when something negative happens – we let you know that too. And if there is something questionable going on, we'll try to get to the bottom of it. But we can't be a partner and do our job effectively.
An unencumbered free press keeps everyone in check. While it's not always a smooth process, it works for the good of all of us.
I think highly of Jonathan Barfield and find him to be a smart and honorable man. I appreciate his public service. And while I applaud his intentions, we simply can't find a good way to be both a partner and a watchdog.
That's my turn. Now it's your turn. To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at email@example.com.
Emailed comments from viewers:
I appreciate your commentary about government and media being partners, and agree wholeheartedly. I believe another term for government-media partnerships is "propaganda." I'm certain that was not Barfield's intent, however; he probably just didn't think it through. Your tactfulness in response was educational for many.
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