No endorsement

Written by Aaron Williams on .

On Wednesday, July 17, I received a piece of mail at my home in Port Allen and was, to say the least, disheartened at its contents.

The reason I was disheartened is because this piece of unsolicited mail painted the West Side Journal in a light that I, as editor, have never intended.

The Riverside Reader, a Port Allen-based weekly periodical which goes to homes in Iberville, West Baton Rouge and Pointe Coupee free of charge, shows an article/advertisement with a photocopy of the June 13 edition of the West Side Journal and reads “The Westside Journal said it best… Port Allen is a ‘City in Crisis.’”

The verbiage then went on to list all of the negatives the city of Port Allen has attained since January in what is assuredly an advertisement for the Petition to Recall Mayor Slaughter.

I became not only disheartened, but also a bit angry at the prospect that anyone may believe that the West Side Journal was, or is, in any way connected to the recall petition.

I created the headline “City in Crisis” for the June 13 edition because of the plethora of negative news facing the city that particular week – residents had just filed the recall petition, the city’s CFO had just been locked out of the city’s bank account (a move that 18th Judicial District Judge Alvin Batiste ruled in favor of Slaughter in a July 2 judgment), and the city’s attorney had just announced his resignation. The headline was an attention grabbing one that dealt with the news of that week.

I do not think it was right for the name of the West Side Journal to be placed in an advertisement calling for people to sign up to recall the mayor.

I think it is the residents’ prerogative whether or not they wish to sign the petition – and I, for one, will not advertise that it is something that should, or should not, be done.

I’ve said it many times – the purpose of a reporter, and of a newspaper, is to get news out to the people. Reporters, ethically, should not be part of the story – whether or not it deals with matters of controversy (but especially if it does!).

The West Side Journal will continue to operate in a professional manner, simply reporting facts and quotes from named sources. We will continue to be fair and balanced, point blank.

Last month a city resident called out several councilmen and members of the media for being alleged members of a Facebook group called “Recall Port Allen Mayor Slaughter.” The resident was angry because she believed that being a member in such a group meant that one believes in its cause.

The West Side Journal was made a member of the page, and I chose not to discontinue the membership simply so I could receive the latest information on the recall efforts – and no other reason than that.

I will not, nor will the newspaper, openly endorse a petition, a candidate, or anything else that goes to the vote of constituents.

I simply want to make it clear what the intentions of the West Side Journal are, and are not, in this and many other matters.

We are your source for unbiased West Baton Rouge news.

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