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.