Sunday, October 19, 2008

EDITORIAL: Post like the little girl with a curl

THE Oct. 17 edition of the Lancaster Post reminds us of the childhood ditty: "There was a little girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead. When she was good, she was very very good. When she was bad, she was horrid."

Artie See's "A View From Downtown" is valid indictment of those ignorant or greedy or ruthless individuals (not all apply to each) who rammed the $200 million convention center down the throats of our citizenry. The opportunity loss to valid projects plus the blow to sound downtown development is immense.

Feature Editor and Co-Publisher Chris Hart-Nibbrig’s editorial "A flawed process" should be required reading - not just once, but annually – for much of our citizenry who confuse voices of essential inquiry and dissent with obstructionism.

Sadly, News Editor and Co-Publisher Ron Harper, Jr. once again demonstrates his journalistic laziness and his personal vitriol with an unsubstantiated attack on outgoing Senator Gibson Armstrong. The WATCHDOG points out that Harper didn't take the trouble to carefully read the public offering of Hamilton Suites Apartments and thus overstates Armstrong’s potential earnings by three folds. This is representative of Harper's reporting.

And far worse, Harper attacks Armstrong for having invested in the perfectly legitimate "viatical" business. It provides a market for the sale of whole life insurance that healthy senior citizens may no longer require, and enables those facing a prolonged but terminal illness to obtain funds to ease them through the final years.

If Harper has evidence that somehow Armtrong’s company is taking advantage of individuals, that would be a valid story. But he presents none.

Harper deserves praise for having spoken out in the past against real and perceived abuses of the public trust. But another old saying is "All you have achieved in the past and a token will get you a ride on the subway." Our point: Harper should stop living off his reputation, inflated in his own mind, and start doing his homework. He should also find and study a primer in journalistic ethics.

Perhaps this is expecting too much. Harper's true role seems to be that of a gadfly and provocateur, not a journalist.