After reading yesterday about the near-catastrophe in the Kansas Senate (an additional 5 percent cut from public education), I asked the Morning Sun if they would be covering the topic. The response I got was brief, but telling: “They cancelled the hearing early this morning.” Telling, for a few reasons. It wasn’t a hearing; it was a debate. Hearings are for citizens to speak on a topic before being debated by legislators; debates are for legislators to discuss and pass bills into law. Secondly, it wasn’t cancelled; it was tabled. “Cancelled” implies a measure has been defeated; tabling means it can be resumed later — in this case, on Monday.
But this answer doesn’t simply lack understanding of how legislation works. It displays a view of how journalism, and democracy, should function. Saying “We aren’t covering this thing because it didn’t happen” abdicates responsibility for informing people how things happen (or don’t), and allows those in power to act in private. The debate was tabled to allow legislators to return to their districts to talk with constituents about crafting solutions to balance the budget. But Morning Sun readers weren’t told this, and are excluded from democratic participation.
Thankfully, there are newspapers reporting these issues and providing information about how citizens can engage (the Topeka Capital-Journal and Lawrence Journal-World are examples), and in this time of “alternative facts” and “fake news,” supporting outlets doing that work is necessary. I can only hope that the Morning Sun will consider joining them.
Pittsburg City Commissioner
Stavola will be missed
Every town needs a good hospital, good schools, good streets and a good newspaper. The Morning Sun has been good to me and my family, and I really appreciate the paper. Let's all support it.
My friend, Michael Stavola, has been a great part of our community. I appreciate his fairness in his writing, and he has made the paper a better paper. Michael is moving on because of personal reasons. Our community and our paper will miss him.