Objectivity, integrity missing in gambling article

To the editor:

Quoting from Walter Lippmann, “The Lost Meaning of Objectivity”: “Journalists who select sources to express what is really their own point of view, and then use their neutral voice to make it seem objective, are engaged in a form of deception. This damages the credibility of the whole profession by making it seem unprincipled, dishonest, and biased.”

The same can be said for Mr. Sanders’ “Questions linger over gambling operation” article (Feb. 4-17 New Hampshire Business Review), which is on the front page of your paper. It was clear from his original on-line version and now in his print version that Mr. Sanders set out to write an article that was clearly biased. Having had an opportunity to hear Mr. Sanders, on two separate occasions, express himself regarding the drafting of this article, I very clearly understood that he was bent on obtaining only information that would support a specific theme to his story and, if he couldn’t get the information one way, he would find another way around it until he did. The final product which you allowed to be printed is proof of that.

Mr. Sanders should be ashamed of himself and, while it is my opinion that he bears full responsibility for his lack of objectivity and journalist integrity in this piece, you are to blame as well for not seeing it for what it is and for allowing it to go to print.

Both articles are replete with veiled inferences and innuendos in an attempt to steer the the reader to the assumption that Lakes Region Greyhound Park, its general partner, Allan E. Hart, as well as the other individuals Mr. Sanders names in his article, are all terribly guilty of something illegal and, if not by performing an outright criminal act, they most assuredly were guilty merely by association. Except Mr. Sanders has absolutely no facts to support this position.

Because of this, he has hand-picked information that he feels supports this conclusion. The information he provides the reader may contain a few facts but is then supplemented by a whole host of unverified and unsubstantiated prejudgments and allegations that he has made by placing great stock in statements that were made by an individual and/or individuals who are parties to a lawsuit. A lawsuit that was filed in an effort to gain something that these individuals may or may not be entitled to.

Each and every one of us has a right in this country to file a lawsuit wherein we can claim we are owed financial compensation and/or may be entitled to certain interests in a particular entity, but by the mere fact a lawsuit has been filed, that does not mean the claims contained therein and/or the individuals filing them are in any way credible.

That’s one of the reasons why I put great stock in our justice system. Because there are specific procedures in place that need to be followed once a suit is filed, so as to weed out what is true and what is merely someone’s purported claim of the truth. The real truth is achieved only at such time as the court issues a final order after hearing all of the testimony and evidence in context that is presented before it and/or a jury of one’s peers reaches a verdict. Not one minute before can any statements and/or individual claims and/or individual allegations be taken as truth against another. Not one minute before.

Mr. Sanders, however, does not appear to trust our justice system. By virtue of his article, much of what he writes about has not been proven as fact in a court of law nor has the credibility of his sources been proven as well. Much of what he references is merely one individual’s claim as to what may or may not be true. However, it has been included in the article because it does support to a large extent the conclusions that Mr. Sanders wishes his readers to draw when reading his article. I do hope for Mr. Sanders’ sake that he never finds himself in a position whereby he is judged guilty as charged and/or by association based solely on the opinion and/or statements of another.

More importantly, what you have is an article written by a reporter that shows a blatant disregard for what should have been a professional commitment by him to search out and report an accurate and fair portrayal of events. By your allowing this piece to go to print, it clearly shows an ineptness in the fairness of your reporting practices. As such, and as a horribly unfortunate consequence of Mr. Sanders’ story and your inability to take an ethical stand against it, honest and dedicated people will be hurt and their reputations severely maligned.

You have a responsibility to your readers to have your reporters write clear, concise, fair and balanced news stories about a given issue. New Hampshire Business Review is not some grocery store aisle tabloid where you might expect to find such a lack of journalistic integrity commonplace.

The true character of a good journalist, I believe, should be reflected in his ability to convey a fair and reliable accounting of the information that he has obtained and allow for us, the reader, to form our own assessments. Mr. Sanders has failed this aspect of his chosen career miserably. Not one person reading this article has been given any opportunity to form their own judgments especially in light of the fact that they were never supplied with any information that was not already slanted towards Mr. Sanders’ thought process. The reader has been forced to swallow Mr. Sander’s own biased opinions, judgments and misconceptions about what is the truth.

You, as the editors of NHBR, have a duty to your readers to ensure that such bias is kept out of your news stories. You owe a duty to your readers to ensure that the information contained in the articles that you print is not slanted towards one person’s particular point of view. Mr. Sanders’ piece was completely disproportionately negative towards certain individuals without any strong basis in fact and lacked true balance in the departing of information to your readers.

Shame on you and shame on Mr. Sanders.

Laurie Maillette

Categories: News