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FROM THE EDITOR: Local news, issues are Post-Star's primary focus

FROM THE EDITOR: Local news, issues are Post-Star's primary focus

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Ken Tingley

Our newspaper’s primary focus is local news.

That is our core mission, and what separates us from larger big-city newspapers is our ability to tell the stories of our community.

We don’t just report the news, we tell the stories of triumph and tragedies and what issues our cities, towns and villages are facing.

Most of all, you cannot get the local news you get in The Post-Star in other larger newspapers.

These are contentious political times and newspapers like The Post-Star often are criticized for having a bias – almost always liberal – without any facts to back it up. It has become an unfounded stereotype.

When I write a column critical of our sitting congresswoman, I hear that I am a liberal Democrat.

That’s not true.

I was a longtime Republican until four years ago when I switched my party affiliation to independent because of my disgust for both political parties and the politics they practice. I made the right decision because it has only gotten worse.

My own philosophy is that I’m fiscally conservative but more moderate in other viewpoints.

While I’ve criticized Rep. Stefanik as a newspaper opinion writer, I’ve also criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

What they have in common is that they are elected officials in power.

The divisions in our politics no longer leave any room in the middle for people like me to be a moderate. From what I see in this community, most people are either conservative or moderate. The Democrats that get elected locally tend to be very conservative.

What party you belong to should not matter. We should judge elected officials by the job they do.

I regularly hear we write disparaging things about our congresswoman on a daily basis.

The reality is that our local coverage of politics is minimal. We don’t actually write much about the local political scene. There is more important work to be done.

To be sure, I reviewed the week from Monday, January 27 through Sunday, February 2 to see how many political stories we wrote.

My audit showed that we wrote 60 stories during the week – not counting police briefs, hometown announcements and sports stories – and that six of them had a connection to local politics.

Two of them were commentary on Rep. Stefanik, one was Michael Goot’s political notebook, two were news coverage of a forum of elected officials at the Queensbury Hotel and one announced that candidate Tedra Cobb would be appearing at Crandall Public Library.

Out of 60 stories, just 10 percent of them had anything to with local politics.

Only 2 of the 60 stories included political commentary.

On our Viewpoints page, there were 18 letters to the editor from readers, one boos and bravos column and one editorial that was issue-based.

I don’t believe this to be a typical week. I think it is more political coverage than we usually have.

We believe it is important to weigh in on community issues and take stands.

We believe we should try to hold elected officials accountable. If we don’t, who does? It is an important part of what a free press does.

But the reality is it is just a small part of what we do.

New member on board

We welcomed a new member to our editorial board this past week when Charles Cumming of Bolton Landing took over as a citizen representative. He will serve for the next four months.

Cumming has been a Bolton Landing resident for the past 20 years, but is originally from Scotland.

He became a naturalized citizen in 1955.

Cumming graduated from Dartmouth with a degree in psychology, then got his MBA from the University of Connecticut. He also served in the U.S. Army from 1965-67.

Cumming has spent the bulk of his career as a human resources management consultant with over 250 corporations and nonprofits across the country.

Cumming recently served as vice president of human resources for the Lake George Land Conservancy. His hobbies include hiking and boating in the Lake George region.

Letters to the editor

We received a note from a reader this week, demanding to know why his two most recent letter submissions were not published.

It was an easy answer. We never received them.

There have always been those who believe that we pick and choose a small selection of letters to publish.

That is not true. We attempt to get every letter we can published and probably publish somewhere north of 90 percent of all letters received.

If we see something wrong with a letter — it’s over the 300-word limit or has factual errors — we give the letter-writer a chance to fix the letter.

Our policy is to contact every letter-writer to verify that the author has written the letter. We will not publish the letter until we do that.

If you send us a letter and never hear anything, there is a good chance we did not receive the letter.

Ken Tingley is the editor of The Post-Star and may be reached via email at tingley@poststar.com. His blog “The Front Page” discusses issues about newspapers and journalism. You can also follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kentingley

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