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4 posts from May 2009

May 27, 2009

300 sign petition against proposed Little Lake development - Peterborough Examiner - Ontario, CA

The Peterborough Examiner has just posted a story about the online petition that Jeannine Taylor has created at www.protectlittlelake.ca.

It's a fabulous article. Go read it and then pass on the link to a friend.

Can You Reclaim Editorial Neutrality Once You've Lost It?

Here's an interesting journalistic case study, courtesy of Peterborough This Week (a.k.a. MyKawartha.com).

First they back Dean Del Mastro's Little Lake Proposal (after first spelling out many of the proposal's fatal flaws).

Voting on the future of Little Lake  MyKawartha.com, 4/21

Votingonthefutureoflittlelakeouropinion MP Dean Del Mastro cannot seem to dodge criticism on the idea of developing the Parks Canada land along Little Lake's shore.

He brought the idea to council without checking with the public, some critics say. He is promoting a complex that will only benefit a private developer, say others.

He will ruin the lake. He will only bring low-paying service jobs to the community. He is selling an idea that will never fly!

We've heard them all. At least he has the courage to try....

[Del Mastro] has always been entrepreneurial and this is a wonderful example of him seeing the potential in a waterfront property with good road access and a water taxi in the summer.

So, we can take a chance and do something really creative or we can turtle.

In the past, we have voted on the side of caution. Is that what we really want?

Then, one month later, they (attempt to) adopt a more neutral editorial stance.

Open Your Mind and Join the Debate  MyKawartha.com, 5/20

Openyourmindandjointhedebateouropinion The best decisions are made when the people making them have information and understand that information. As the community newspaper that reaches all 91,000 voters, we feel responsible to deliver that information in a way that is clear and neutral.

We're hoping that voters will judge the project on its merits and not get caught up in the partisan who-said-what hooey that, frankly, is takes the level of debate down a notch.

So here's my question. Can a media outlet reclaim its editorial neutrality once it has lost it? If so, how long does it take to get it back - to earn back audience trust?

Please Note:
Screen captures were added 5/31 to address a reader concern raised in the comments section below. Please note that each piece contains the tag "Our Opinion" in the story header and each is written in the style of an editorial opinion piece (e.g., "We've heard" and "We're hoping") as opposed to a news story.

Related:

Canadian Broadcast Standards Council: Decision re: CJCH-TV (CTV Atlantic) re CTV News at 6 (Stéphane Dion interview)

Canadian Broadcast Standards Council: Decision re: Mike Duffy Live Prime Time (Stéphane Dion Interview)

Press release summarizing above two decisions


The Timing of Del Mastro's Survey "Couldn't Have Been Worse": Peterborough City Planner

"The timing with [Dean Del Mastro's Little Lake] survey couldn't have been worse for us," said City planner Mary Gallop, at the City of Peterborough's first community meeting to develop a master plan for Little Lake.

"Many people who turned out to Tuesday's meeting wanted to vent about MP Del Mastro's proposal for a 7.2-acre parcel of land where the Trent Severn headquarters are currently located," noted MyKawartha.com.

Citizens aren't happy about having their Federal MP jumping the gun on the city's own planning process - particularly given that their municipal tax dollars are being spent to pay The Planning Partnership, a planning and design firm based in Toronto, to take the community through a community-based planning process to determine the future of an historic and much-loved public green space.

That's not to say that they're entirely happy with the city-led planning process. According to The Peterborough Examiner, citizens who showed up for the kick-off meeting grilled City officials about the integrity of its own planning process for Little Lake:

There was applause when Rob Cory asked why the city would want to reverse its policy of buying waterfront property in that area to create more waterfront space for public use.

“The city taxpayers bought frontage for its natural environment and public use,” he said. “Why would the city want to reverse that policy?

“Now they want to put a wall of condominiums up there.”

Another person at the table said that’s Del Mastro’s plan, not the city’s proposal.

Del Mastro’s plan has brought people together to defend the green space, said Mary-Anne Johnston, a Lakefield resident.

“His plan [to allow a private developer to build on the Trent-Severn Waterway headquarters property that’s owned by the federal government ] has totally galvanized people against it,” she said.

Meanwhile, citizens continue to sign a petition designed to declare Del Mastro's ballot about the future of Little Lake null and void. After all, voting about the future of Little Lake before citizens have had a chance to participate in the city-led planning process (which will continue into the summer) certainly isn't in the best interests of the citizens of Peterborough. That certainly begs the question: in whose best interest is it to have those ballots signed, mailed, and delivered to Ottawa in such a hurry?

Related:

Impolitical is also asking questions: "Why Is Dean Del Mastro Taking Surveys on Behalf of Private Developers in Peterborough?"

May 26, 2009

Little Lake Petition Created to Voice Opposition to Dean Del Mastro's Ballot

We Oppose The Little Lake Development Proposal - The Petition Site.

A petitition for those who are opposed to the Little Lake Development in Peterborough, Ontario.

This is the comment I included along with my signature on the petition.

Ideally, ideas about the use of publicly-owned spaces should be generated by the citizens themselves, with public officials then asking developers to bid on the opportunity to translate the will of the people into a plan. This project has everything backwards. The project has been driven by a developer and a politician, with no real citizen input. That is why citizens are resisting. They don't feel that they have been consulted appropriately; nor do they feel that they have the information required to make an informed choice as they cast the ballots that have arrived in the mail. The ballots are also contradictory and confusing. And citizens still do not have clear answers about how many ballots in total must be received back by the MP's office in order for the results to be considered valid (as few as 1000 ballots or as many as 20 to 30 percent of the total of 90,000 ballots mailed out?), how the ballots that were rejected by the post office will be factored into those totals. All we know is that 60 percent of something will be considered a positive vote. Every day, new questions and concerns are raised via Letters to the Editor of our two local papers - and yet the vote is proceeding. Why? Why isn't time being taken to do this right? What's the rush?

If you'd like to hear what others in our community have been saying about Little Lake, see #littlelake on Twitter.