Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Attention Must Be Paid

So why is Maria Padilla writing a blog about the Orlando Sentinel? Glad you asked. First and foremost because attention must be paid to the disintegration of the only daily newsgathering operation in this region.

The Sentinel was never great, but it had some integrity. And while the Sentinel didn't always call the right shots, it did hold some people's feet to the fire when it wasn't too busy cozying up to the powers that be.

I write this blog because accountability is important. I worry about what is happening in the cities and counties that no one knows about or will have the chance to find out because nobody's going to show up at a boring public meeting and bother to find out.

When I was a Sentinel editorial writer for the county sections, there were plenty of meetings I attended where the public officials said they hadn't seen a Sentinel reporter in a long time. And that, folks, was during better days. What will happen now? How will we find out how government is spending our money? Did anybody say Expressway Authority? How will we know that a nut job is running for public office. I have sat in on many of these endorsement interviews and they can be hilarious. At another paper I worked for a candidate said he didn't know we were going to ask him questions about the issues. Huh? While at the Sentinel, one candidate had been arrested in a family altercation.

I am not sentimental about the Sentinel. After all I left it in 2005 and haven't looked back. I am not so squeamish about the folks who are being let go. Stuff happens. It happens to me. It happens to you. It happens to your neighbor, your friend, your family. It happens to people in other industries. I don't feel our pain more than other people's.

But attention must be paid to the institution that monitors our public life. You think the Sentinel or its mucky mucks are going to tell you? I have a printing press I want to sell you ....

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