A worthy person – a man or woman committed to reason, honesty, and seriousness of purpose – would have little respect for the Janesville Gazette. This critical view is not a new one, truly: the paper’s work has been inferior during the Great Recession, during an opioid crisis, during cheerleading for countless state and local corporate welfare schemes, and continues this way even during a pandemic.
Boosterism – accentuating the positive no matter real conditions – plagues and degrades communities wherever it is found. It’s a doctrine – and after a time, an addiction – of mendacity.
Look no farther than the Gazette’s already-stale series of stories published this weekend under the “Progress 2020” tag. They’re from a special standalone section of boosterism’s greatest hits:
From the editor: Momentum grows in our communities “Part of the job of a local newspaper is to report on the challenges faced by area communities, and we take that responsibility seriously. But it’s a change of pace for our journalists to seek out and dive into stories about what’s going right in our communities.
That’s what this section is about.
We hope you enjoy reading about local Progress and are encouraged by the momentum in southern Wisconsin.
If the editor of this newspaper – Sid Schwartz – took his job seriously, then he would not publish out-of-date, repackaged stories about economic conditions that most certainly will not appertain to 2020.
Schwartz is like a man who predicts sunny weather ahead as a hurricane approaches. A worthy man, by contrast, would help others take shelter and prepare for the advancing storm.
Does Schwartz think that the stories in his “special section” describe conditions that will yet come to pass in 2020? If he does, then he’s a dunce. If he does not think that they’ll come to pass, then he’s a liar who deliberately publishes erroneous forecasts.
Everyone connected with this broadside of boosterism – every last person who has allowed his or her name to be connected with the Gazette’s work – should rethink his or her ethical obligations to the truth.
Communities benefit from accurate descriptions, and practical advice, grounded always in realism.