Don’t shoot the messenger

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 13, 2005

It feels good to be back in the newspaper business after a brief sojourn. A lot happened in the media and newspaper world while I was gone.

In the immediate market, one of Birmingham&8217;s oldest newspapers disappeared. The Post-Herald is no longer apart of the central Alabama news market. Birmingham has removed its name from the declining list of U.S. cities with two competing daily newspapers.

Alabama legislators are working on a new bill to clarify the open meetings law that requires governments to publicize and encourage media scrutiny. The Talladega Daily-Home had to sue in order to access water works records, prompting changes in meetings laws.

In the national media, Judith Miller from The New York Times served six months in prison for refusing to divulge confidential sources.

In Shelby County, the Reporter redesigned its pages and Web site and expanded its staff.

On all levels a trend is growing and threatens to harm the same ones responsible for all the information circulating. The media, including newspapers, have become a common scapegoat for people searching for culprits in national security breeches and local misunderstandings.

While working on a story about Shelby County&8217;s methadone clinic this week, I was told by one man that &8220;the media has confused people&8221; about this controversial drug.

Has the media confused people or have people confused themselves? A look at the facts begs for explanation, and there are no easy answers.

People allege the media has &8220;sabotaged&8221; Christmas by reporting on companies that chose &8220;Happy Holidays&8221; instead of &8220;Merry Christmas.&8221;

While watching the news, a woman said the media has &8220;made a mockery&8221; of Beth Holloway-Twitty. On the other hand, Cindy Sheehan has made a mockery of herself, some would say.

What is the difference? The media pays tribute to both