WHOA Accuses Journal of Ignoring the Other Side on Wild Horse Sanctuary

October 4th, 2010 · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

By Tracy Dingmann

Sometimes it’s nice when someone else does your job for you.

That happened to me the other day when a Journal Watch reader wrote in to comment about the paper’s coverage of Gov. Bill Richardson’s plan to use stimulus funds to expand Cerrillos State Park and create a horse sanctuary there.

I had noticed the paper’s increasingly shrill campaign against the plan, but wasn’t quite aware of the overwhelmingly one-sided way the paper has presented the issue.

But supporters of wild horses have been acutely aware of it. They say the paper has omitted information that provides a whole other side to the issue and has ignored requests to speak with the Wild Horse Observers Association, a long-established wild horse advocacy group. Part of the information that the paper has ignored, WHOA says, are the thousands of letters sent to WHOA from New Mexicans who support the idea.

Poor Kids Or Horses?

WHOA also notes that in its many “news” stories and editorials against the idea, the paper has propagated a false choice between childcare subsidies for low-income children versus incredibly expensive digs for a few wild horses.

That’s because there are so many other stimulus projects on the table – and the $2.8 million Governor Richardson wants to spend for the horse park would never be the determining factor in whether child care subsidies are cut or not.

(I must admit, I did chuckle grimly at the specter of Journal editors so distraught over the fate of poor children and families – I have never seen them care so much about them before, and certainly not at budget time).

A Daily Kos Post

One person familiar with the situation actually wrote a blog post called “Albuquerque Journal – Against the American Wild Horse,” published Sept. 25 on the widely-read site Daily Kos.

There’s lots of information there that you didn’t read in the Journal – in addition to some stunning photos of wild horses in and around Placitas by a woman named Lynne Pomeranz.

A Journal Watch Reader Writes In

But there was even more information in the comment sent to me by Journal Watch by reader Reggie Nepomuceno. Here are some excerpts:

The Albuquerque Journal has now printed, over the past two weeks, six opinion pieces denigrating Governor Richardson’s proposed 12,000-acre expansion of Cerrillos State Park and creation of a wild horse sanctuary.

Three of the opinion pieces masqueraded as news articles, with one printed front page and just below the Albuquerque Journal banner.

A listing of the “news articles” and editorials shows the increasingly strident view of the Albuquerque Journal with each item:

• “$2.8M Set Aside for Horse Sanctuary” – Sept 17th – Mark Oswald

• “Horses, Kids and Stimulus Money” – Sept. 18, Thomas J. Cole

• “Governor Delays Vote on Sanctuary” – Sept 22nd Thomas J. Cole, UpFront column

• “Wild Horses Couldn’t Drag Sense into Deal” – Sept 23rd – Editorial

• “Horse Haven Would be Exclusive Club” – Sept 25th – Thomas J. Cole, UpFront column

• “Somebody Holler Whoa on Sanctuary” – Sept 29th – Editorial

None of the news articles presented any information or quotes from proponents of the wild horse sanctuary, besides Governor Richardson himself, even though a chief proponent for New Mexico’s wild horses, the Wild Horse Observers Association (WHOA), sought out the Journal’s Thomas J. Cole to provide comment.

In fact, the headline of their most recent editorial against the wild horses snarkily incorporated the organizations acronym.

In the earlier news articles and editorials the Journal clearly tries to promulgate a false choice: Funding childcare assistance VS spending on wild horses. Why is it a false choice?

The $2.8 million being allocated for the park expansion calculates out to a mere 0.07% of the $3.9 billion Federal stimulus funds being directed to New Mexico. The budgetary category of “Family Safety Net” has already been allocated 8.18% of New Mexico’s share of stimulus funds.

Also, the $2.8 million is but a fraction of the shortfall in childcare assistance funding.

You’re Not Getting The Full Story

So, to sum up – whatever you think about the wisdom of establishing a wild horse sanctuary right now – just know this: the Journal isn’t giving you the full story and the full set of facts on which to base your opinion.

They are merely shoving their own down your throat.

And that’s really a shame.

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Jim Baca

    I was very supportive of this investment in wild horses. I know how these animals have been harshly treated by the BLM in the past.

    I took grief from leaders of non profit groups who said I cared more for horses than poor children. This hysteria was partially driven and nurtured by nonprofits who felt their share of funding might take a hit. And their staff salaries.

  • Tracy Dingmann

    Thanks Jim. For those who don’t know – Jim is a former director of the BLM.

  • Rob Pliskin

    I support the Sanctuary, and all it can do for local residents and visitors to the area. I have been a 12 year volunteer for the BLM Wild Horse and Burro program, promoting adoptions and gentling horses. I have a B.S. in Watershed Management and an M.S. in Ed, with a career in public and equestrian education and wild horse rescue. I also work in equine assisted growth and learning programs.

    The Sanctuary represents a unique income generating opportunity for NM. EQUALLY IMPORTANTLY, it is a major chance to improve the quality of life for New Mexico families and children who will experience its programs. Low income children from Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and everywhere can be served. So can veterans and active military personnel of NM and their families.

    I wonder if there is something more behind the Journal view, and who is driving it. Is it just a way to get at the Governor during an election campaign?

    The lives of children, and horses, ought never be dragged into politics. That is something this Sanctuary might teach through the horses, real traditional values of New Mexico and the West .

  • Reggie Nepomuceno

    After much prodding and urging from WHOA, the Albuquerque Journal relented to printing an Opinion column by Patience O’Dowd, President of WHOA (Albuquerque Journal , 10/13/10) .

    But as a matter of course for the Albuquerque Journal, they had to print, in the same issue, another negative, frontpage article regarding the purchase of land for the expansion of Cerrillos State Park. That would make it the seventh or eighth (we’ve lost count now) negative opinion article to our one lone piece.

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