More reporting?

I was asking myself the question, “why don’t you do more serious reporting on this blog and less general commentary?”

Well, the obvious answer is that serious reporting is more difficult and takes more time, but it’s not the real answer. I can report almost as fast as I can comment.

The real answer is that serious reporting really gets people upset.

For instance, if I was doing serious reporting about the behavior of the town government and its relationships with its cronies, that would get a variety of people upset, really upset.

And how about the New Paltz school district, its officers, and the board of education?

Wow. Serious reporting on that crowd would be like splashing gasoline onto an already roaring fire.

I don’t think I’d want to do it. I know that the reporters for the New Paltz Times strenuously avoid doing any serious reporting about any of the above. Why? Well, it’s no way to make friends, that’s for sure, and we want everyone to get along. Right?

It’s much easier to just stick with the long-winded stenography and the jejune happy talk that Times reporters specialize in.

I remember an instance — peripherally connected with some writing I did for this blog — where I wrote very publicly about an outfit that wanted to develop a housing project in New Paltz. I described how the outfit defined its own mission. I took it straight from their own web site. Local reporters and politicians had never made mention of it, and it had apparently been tacitly ruled off limits for public discourse.

The people from the outfit and their local enablers went fairly apoplectic. The New Paltz Times, even after public disclosure of very public information, still never reported on what the outfit had as its mission. Never reporting stuff seems to be a tradition at the Times.

My conclusion about that episode was that it was politically incorrect to mention what the outfit quite publicly said its mission was. I found that to be very strange. I certainly never went near any of the personal relationships involved.

Nor did I mention some of what the outfit claimed as part of its core mission, because I didn’t want to tax local sensibility beyond its capacity.

So, serious reporting would stir up the silt in this town in very strange ways, because many of the things that go on around here are, indeed, very strange. I don’t want to make the straight up claim that a lot of that strangeness constitutes unethical behavior, but I’d be leaning in that direction, if you know what I mean.

Oh, what the hell, maybe I’ll do some serious reporting. Maybe I’ll start with off-the-record interviews with SUNY New Paltz officials and campus police officers about whether SUNY administrators used the campus police to silence or render ineffective student leaders they didn’t like. But I’ve got to think about that because, you know, they could try to do the same thing to me, or you.

I certainly wouldn’t want to back any of those campus bureaucrats into a corner and make them feel uncomfortable. Who knows what they might accuse me of. Why, a simple e-mail asking one of them if they interferred with student elections could get me arrested.

I don’t, for instance, think that Governor Eliot Spitzer’s aides (and perhaps Eliot Spitzer himself) were doing anything original when they made use of state troopers for political purposes. But that sort of thing could never happen here, even if it was happening right in front of your eyes.

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