Speaking as if with one Voice

Don't hold your breath if you're expecting the biweekly Cape Cod Voice to spill as much ink on coverage of wind farm supporters as they did for opponents, profiles of which dominated a recent issue of the paper. (The following issue was devoted to seals.)The next CC Voice issue

Responding to my e-mail about this, senior editor Dan Hamilton wrote that a "small number of people have misunderstood our 'Those who oppose' theme issue. Interestingly, about half of that small number feel we were biased in favor of the opponents, ie unfair to the wind farm, and about half believe we were biased by being critical of the opponents and therefore were boosting the wind farm.

"As we explained in detail on page 5, the theme was not about the pros and cons of the project; rather it was about an unusual, newsworthy group. The proponents are just not the same, sincere and dedicated as they may be.

"So the short answer to your question is, no - dan"

But Hamilton's claim that the "those who oppose" issue was not devoted to the "pros and cons" of the wind farm is refuted by the issue itself - filling the paper with profiles of people working tirelessly to stop the wind farm is, in effect, an issue devoted to the, ah, "cons" of the proposal.

A sense of fairness that every journalist should possess dictates that the Voice accord the same treatment to proponents, unless that person is practicing advocacy journalism, as done here. But even here, in the allegedly lawless blogosphere, an obligation to those who disagree still applies. That's why I allow comments in response to my postings, regardless of who responds - and I've never deleted a single one.

As judgment calls go, this isn't even a tough one, and the Voice flunks miserably.

Hamilton also falls back on the weak argument that wind farm supporters are not as "unusual" and "newsworthy" a group as Cape Wind opponents; not "strange bedfellows," as described in the "those who oppose" issue.

But the Voice is hardly obligated in writing about proponents with the same theme in mind - a theme of their own choosing, presumably. To decide against fair treatment on this basis demonstrates a willful lack of imagination.

Perceptions of the Voice's heavy-handedness are only reinforced when you see a full-page ad from the Alliance in the current issue of the paper.


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