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A missed reporting opportunity

non-newsIt must be sweeps week or close to it because the news stations in town are kicking it into high gear with special assignments and more reporting than normal.*

My favorites:

  1. Who ends up paying for the county’s search and rescue operations? The answer, unsurprisingly: county taxpayers.)
  2. A local church speaks out about a handwritten letter it received over the holidays containing “a hateful message towards church establishments.” (The police even circulated a surveillance image of the person who… dropped off the letter. No breaking in, mind you. Just dropping off a letter.)
  3. A story by Judy Slate on KBZK talks about a van that has been parked outside the Law and Justice Center in Bozeman for some time. The van is covered in signs criticizing one of the judges over his handling of parenting plans and a man’s divorce. The man tells the TV station that no one has criticized him for the sign-festooned vehicle. The sheriff’s office told them he hasn’t broken the law. Nor has the sheriff received any complaints about the van.

So… if no one if complaining and no laws are being broken, is the story really about the van?

I’m picking on KBZK a little bit tonight because I don’t pick on them often. They usually don’t deserve the ribbing. And I understand: the TV station picked a visual topic, something that would be easy to film. That’s natural, but the reason for the van, the man’s court woes, are given short shrift in the article, and I think that’s a shame.

Journalists are supposed to speak for people who are struggling against unfairness. We might not always accomplish it, but it’s still a good goal to have. If this man really is fighting an unfair situation (and we only have his word to go on), his story should have been told, not just his van’s.

*Don’t forget, we’re due an undercover bus investigation soon too.