Monday, April 21, 2008
Two Wrongs and NWA Times Can't Get It Right
"To paraphrase a line from the third Harry Potter movie, the editors at the Northwest Arkansas Times have once again put their powerful intellect to work and come up with the wrong conclusion," said a wise observer of the newspaper's editorial page with reference to one of Executive Editor Greg Harton's recent muddled columns.
"Questioning the motives of the people who are voluntarily gathering data for the biggest single investment this community will make is a strange approach for this newspaper to take," the writer noted. Except, it is not so strange when you consider that Harton has been personally involved in testifying in favor of the Chamber and FEDC position to building a new high school in the western suburbs, and the news articles reflect his bias. Furthermore, with his history of anti-worker editorial columns, he couldn't resist the opportunity to take a cheap shot at the union representing members of the university faculty and staff, implying that its concerns were irrelevant and should be ignored.
Harton either doesn't understand or intentionally conflates two separate arguments. Selling off the current centrally located high school campus and building a new mega-school in the boonies is a bad idea for students and patrons of the Fayetteville School District, and good arguments have been made based on solid empirical data that it would be better to build a world-class high school at the present location adjacent to the University. That the position is articulated by concerned UA faculty and staff is no reason for the newspaper to discount it.
A separate argument, reported in today's Northwest Arkansas Times, is that buying the present Fayetteville High School campus is a bad idea for Arkansas taxpayers and students at the University of Arkansas, and good arguments have been made based on solid empirical data that the University does not need and cannot afford to increase its bonded indebtedness to buy the property fom the school district, considering announced priorities and budget constraints. That the position is articulated by concerned UA faculty and staff is no reason for the newspaper to discount it.
Greg Harton has a journalism degree from that fine program at Arkansas State University. He was trained to recognize good data and distinct arguments, so it is unlikely that he is confused. It is more likely that he is trying to confuse the readers about good arguments being made in opposition to his personal biases on the question.