You are here

Midland Daily News

Recently, our local newspaper The Midland Daily News took some heat when a couple of robberies at ATMs that occurred on Tuesday and Thursday did not appear in the paper until Saturday. This situation was interpreted by some as further confirmation that the MDN tends to downplay negative news in order to perpetuate the appearance that life in Midland is more perfect than it really is. The newspaper's editor responded with an explanation that, although less disturbing than the speculation, was not exactly reassuring: the staff member who would normally handle this subject is on maternity leave and a "failure to communicate" prevented the reporters who are filling in for her from doing so adequately. Before any of this happened, I had already decided not to renew my subscription to the paper. For one reason, I prefer to read the news online anyway. Lisa doesn't. She likes to flip through the paper, but she didn't protest too much when I pulled out the "it's a waste of paper" secret weapon. What pushed me to really want to get rid of it, though, was the MDN's reporting on the proposed coal-fired plant. As one critic put it in the context of the ATM robbery omission:

There is a reason this robbery wasn't reported on Friday as it should have been ... MDN doesn't do investigative reporting. They report what is fed to them and that's exactly what local governments do, they feed the MDN what they are willing to let be reported...

The first couple articles in the MDN about the proposed power plant were published in February and June. They do kind of read like press releases from LS Power. You'd think they could have dug up some info from the other side of the story in the 4 months between the first article and the second. An article about an open house that the company held included a resident of Arizona (in Midland for the summer) as one of the people they interviewed (most of them making positive comments). An article later in June was another showcase for LS Power, including several colorful and informative graphics. An article at the end of June covered a planning commission hearing about some rezoning issues related to the power plant. There is a brief mention of concerns about the power plant in the lengthy article. I can't find the article online describing the outcome of the July 10 planning commission vote. Apparently, as we learned later, the paper misreported the outcome of the meeting (more on that later). In August the paper published a lengthy article about the outcome of the city council meeting that addressed the zoning issues. That article again quotes a few of the folks who voiced concerns at the meeting. The city council went against the recommendation of the planning commission and approved electrical generating stations as a "by right" use of the rezoned land instead of "conditional use". The paper's article made it sound like the planning commission made two recommendations and the council acted in agreement with one of them. Instead, the motion that the planning commission recommend "by right" use did not pass but "conditional use" did. Lisa argued with the paper's editor about this because she thought it was significant. Eventually he agreed to print a correction though he didn't really consider it to be significant. The paper also printed her letter to the editor, though it never appeared online. Contrast MDN's coverage with that of the Bay City times concerning similar power plants proposed for Bay City. An article in July gives a great deal of info regarding the debate concerning the environmental aspects of coal plants. In the last few days, Consumer's Energy has officially announced that Hampton Township was the chosen location for their proposed plant. One article reported the announcement and gave lots of detailed coverage of the complex issues regarding "clean coal." Another article used Q & A to allow the power plant officials to make their case. Then, a couple days later, another article examines the environmental issues in detail and informs that Consumer's Energy and LS Power are effectively in a race to see who can get their plant approved first since the other is likely to face more strict environmental restrictions. I suspect that Jeff Kart, author of most of the relevant Bay City Times articles, is considered a thorn in the side of power industry officials. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't consider his reporting balanced. In my opinion, it's been excellent, giving both sides of the argument their due. My subscription to the MDN won't be renewed this year.

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer