PointerGate points to the imperative of oversight

In another life I was a stooge on the Minnesota News Council. At some point I, as a member in good standing, read in the press that the MNC was to be no more – no explanation, a simple affirmation that the staff person had acquired a safe position at the University of St. Thomas. Because I was too otherwise engaged to explore the roots of a decision I accepted as a done deal, closed that file, and gave complicit assent to a decision I knew was wrong.

Bottom line: Minnesota News Council, thou art needed at this hour.

Though there are many, the efficient cause of my concern is PointerGate, the most ridiculous travesty of press neglect unfolding in recent journalistic days.

Thanks to The UpTake, a community resource of inestimable value that somehow escapes public acclamation, I just viewed a streamed account of the recent discussion of the PointerGate debacle sponsored by the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. ((http://theuptake.org/live-video-post/journalists-discuss-pointergate/)) The conversation offers clear insights that transcend the episode that has been blown far out of proportion by the press and by social media; the video is well worth a view.

The discussion, mostly among journalists, is enlightening. The questions raised by the audience are illustrative of the questions on the minds of many. There are not so many answers as questions. Still, listening/viewing the open discussion helps me to capitalize on an opportunity to learn and to understand the thinking of the individuals who were and are involved in an ongoing explication of the tempest in a teapot that was PointerGate.

The complexity of the issue expands with discussion – racism, gang-bating, the role of cops, the authority of the mayor, the objectivity of the press, the impact of the press on public attitudes….

On the one hand, there is the PointerGate issue – dead in the water as far as I am concerned. What remains is a question about the role of the press, the way in which the public, not only the press, has a role in determining the actions of the media. It matters.

From my perspective, PointerGate – and a host of press/media related issues – argue for resurrection of a Minnesota News Council that is restructured, given the authority and staff capable to meet the challenges of a fiercely competitive digital market of ideas. This is not the first, just the most obvious, need for the MNC.

I regret to this day that I gave silent consent so easily to a decision I knew was not in the interests of the people.

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