The writer can determine mood of a newspaper article
It is very difficult to start this letter because it needs to be done in a professional, courteous manner. I want to speak my mind as others have, but I am here to show the difference of fact vs. opinion as well as how portrayed information can influence an article.
There have been a few articles in the Frazee Forum with deleted, quoted information as well as misrepresented quotes, and the article I am particularly upset with is the issue on January 14, 2010. The article "State audit of school reveals discrepancy, room for improvement," can be seen in completely different, positive light in the Detroit Lakes Newspaper, nine miles from Frazee. Why is a town nine miles away doing a better job of supporting our school system, than our own community? Being as the paper is a powerful tool of information for our large community, the least it could do is portray correct information and in a positive manner. Shouldn't the paper be a role model to its readers? A newspaper should be unbiased, relating the facts as they are given.
I'm not saying I can do any better or worse, but let me show you a few examples of the two differing papers to illustrate my point.
Frazee Forum: "The state audit performed on the Frazee-Vergas School District revealed a discrepancy and possible room for improvement."
Detroit Lakes Paper: "While the district received some advice on procedures, a petitioned-for state audit came back clean for the Frazee-Vergas School District."
Frazee Forum: "$800,000 in question."
While the Detroit Lakes paper did not mention this issue, before reading into the bolded section, one might think the money is being misused. However, the 'in question' part was due to miscalculation of expected enrollment (which was actually based on the history of declined enrolment) and the difference of estimated vs. actual cuts in expenditures. The style of reporting used for this issue can cause serious doubt in the readers.
Regarding the referendum funds being used for building improvements, the Detroit Lakes paper included "according to the Health and Safety Program, the district is allowed to issue a debt without voter approval for the purpose of maintenance. Maintenance in this instance was used to replace the boiler, sprinkling system, and the HVAC system." I was also informed these maintenance issues are state-mandated.
Perhaps what upsets me the most about the reporting done by the Frazee Forum is how at the end of the Detroit Lakes article it states "Therefore, the scope of the accounts and items the petitioners asked the auditor's office to review were found in line. Johnson added that Stender and staff were a 'great deal of assistance' in gathering information for review." This means the header of the Detroit Lakes article stated our "clean slate" and ended with the audit found "in-line." Our hometown newspaper started with "...found discrepancy and room for improvement" and ended with the cost of the audit to the school system.
All I am asking is to use wise judgment when reading articles in a newspaper. The writer can determine the mood of the article and the information being presented. One simple twist of words and mood, as shown by the Frazee Forum and Detroit Lakes paper, can totally change one's perspective. I hope I start to see some support for our school system and the divide start to lift, especially with this audit proving our administrators' credibility and knowledge. This can start by unbiased reporting for all newspapers involved.
(Zitzow is a graduate of Frazee-Vergas High School.)