Lacing Opinion into the News

I got some flack today from a selectman for a story I wrote that appeared in today’s paper. The story in question wasn’t about any action in particular, it was more an analysis piece on the first meeting of the new selectboard. There is only one new member, but a lot changed as a result of the election. The personalities on the board are not something I want to comment on as such things are hardly hard news, but sometimes the facts make impressions of personality quite clear.

One board member does not make motions. She seconds other people’s motions, but she does not make her own. I can not recall her ever making one, but I could be wrong there. I checked the minutes from the first few months of 2012, however, and in those meetings she did not offer one motion. I put that fact in the story to contrast with the newest board member, who on her first day made several motions.

I offered the fact up to show the comfort the new board member seemed to have with her new seat, but it didn’t get over well. I got two phone calls today, one from the board member and one from a sibling, raising issue with the story. The sibling understood what I was doing after a brief discussion, but the board member didn’t seem to. At one point she said I was thrusting my opinion into the story. I asked her where. Which line was she referring two? I was citing the minutes, I explained. Those numbers are fact.

Those numbers exemplified the point that the newest selectman came ready to jump into the fray in a more vocal way than the last new inductee. That analysis was backed up by the statistics. Was it me intertwining my opinion with facts? I don’t believe so. If one selectman is quiet and the other vocal is it opinion to point that out? Again, I don’t believe so.

And further, I don’t believe being vocal equals being a good elected official. It isn’t even one measure of what makes a good elected official. But it certainly is measurable, not just in opinion but in fact.

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