The press is the only business specifically mentioned in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.
Constitutional protections provided by that document were intended to give the press great latitude to cover the news without the intimidation by government that is commonplace in many parts of the world today.
Along with that special status comes an obligation to cover the news as fairly and factually as possible. This includes efforts to report the various viewpoints in controversial stories, such as the Hitcents Park Plaza.
Since breaking a story that some construction firms involved in that contract claimed they were owed some serious money, the Daily News has been at the forefront in developing the story and has worked tirelessly through contacts with the parties involved and open records requests to bring our readers as much information as possible.
With that background in mind, we were rather shocked when Mills Family Realty issued a news release which claims “the media has reported information from a single perspective which excludes important facts and which has painted MFR in an unfairly negative light.”
The fact of the matter is the Mills family could have had their perspective out there weeks ago if they wished, and by doing so would have served the citizens of the community well.
Katie Brandenburg, our lead reporter on this story, has made numerous efforts to solicit comments from them as this story developed.
Realistically, you cannot force anyone to answer questions. That is a choice, but when they fail to respond, it takes a lot of nerve to argue that the media is reporting from a single perspective.
Their Saturday news release, likely crafted or vetted by an attorney, was an effort to put out information favorable to them.
While we welcome it for its value of focusing additional light on the situation, it is no substitute for a face-to-face conversation with a reporter that would have allowed follow-up questions.
In fairness to the Mills family, some public officials have been unwilling to say much, apparently in an effort to control what information is provided to the public.
Frustrations of this nature simply go with the job in the newspaper profession.
At the end of the day, it is the taxpaying public, for whom the press acts as proxies, who may be required to cough up money to clean up this mess.
Because of that exposure and because the people are best served when their government is as transparent as possible, the Daily News will continue to aggressively pursue this story.