The propaganda from Chuck Clement and the Madison Daily Leader on behalf of the Madison Central School District continues. In previous coverage of our school board's proposal to build a new gym and renovate the high school, MDL has buried mention of key terms like new gym. Now Clement's coverage of the school board's approval of a public vote on $16.98 million shows more propaganda by positioning.
Madison Central business manager Cindy Callies guesses the new gym and high school renovation will cost taxpayers $2 per $1000 of property value. If you own a $150,000 house, that's $300. Farmers stand to pay an average $411 more per quarter section.
One would think that financial data would be top priority information for most readers and taxpayers. One would thus think the journalistic urge would be to place that information at the top of the story.
But what journalistic choice does the local booster paper make? We hear first that the school approved the $16.98 million bond issue (good). Paragraph 2 says we vote on Feb. 1 (good). Then paragraph 3 reports this vital news: "No person attended the school board meeting to speak for or against the resolution or ask questions of the school board members or district administrators."
Translation: None of you showed up to complain or ask questions, so you have no right to vote against what we want.
The specific cost information doesn't come until paragraph 6. In traditional journalistic terms, the placement of details in this story says it's more important for the Madison Daily Leader to continue its function as propaganda organ for the school district and create the impression of lack of opposition than it is to report on the specific details of the proposal that voters must study and decide on February 1.
I'll be attending a school tour in the coming weeks, even though I already know the building and its physical needs from years of experience. I'll be recording and reporting on my tour. And I'll be advocating the position that I've already formed: I'll support the bond issue when they drop the unnecessary multi-million-dollar new gym.
My coverage of this bond election will be fully biased and subjective. At least I can admit that. I look forward to the day when Chuck Clement and the Madison Daily Leader will admit the same.
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