Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

What Makes Ithacans Not Run? The Journal's "Storychat", For One Thing

Today is Election Day, but just another day in Ithaca, where there are no contested races. Common Council members, the mayor, and the town supervisor are all Democrats running unopposed.

The Ithaca Journal examines the issue today. One obvious factor is the strength of the Democratic party in the city. The Republican party is practically non-existent here. In the presidential election of 2000, Ralph Nader outdrew George Bush in Ithaca.

The Journal seems to think that low pay for public officials is debatable as a factor, although to us it seems clear. The mayor makes around $50,000 a year. There are guys at Sears who make that. Common Council members make around $10,000 a year, which a diligent panhandler could do.

The Journal also mentions the idea of "fear." Elected officials anywhere need thick skin, but particularly in a small town.

One thing a politician hopes for is a fair press, and for the most part they get that here, with the notable exception of the "Storychat" feature in the on-line Journal, which provides a daily forum for invective and ridicule from anonymous lamebrains.

Check the very story in question to see. Commenting on today's Journal story are scholars such as "cowinmyunderpants," "LoyalOpposition," et al., who comment on what "sux" about Common Council, and make disparaging remarks about council members by name, although managing to misidentify their subjects.

We think the Journal has a professional and civic duty to verify and publish the identities of its on-line contributors, as it does with letters to the editor. It would go a long way to cleaning up the level of its on-line discourse, which is generally abominable, and to improving the political climate in town, which might in turn lead to more candidacies.

The Journal says it's a serious issue. Is it serious enough for them to change something rank that they control?

We would like to suggest that all interested parties write to the Journal about this issue.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

1 comment:

Krys said...

Great idea. I just called and had a comment removed this week-- I had organized the local Step It Up rally to encourage political action around issues of global climate change.... a nationwide political movement which the IJ quoted me out of context on, making it look like some kind of support group for people depressed about global warming. So, comment #1 in "storychat" is: "Why don't you kill yourself to reduce global warming?"

I heard that Enfield candidates had rumors regarding incest in their families posted in storychat. No good deed goes unpunished, sure, but this is over the top.