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Journalists are supposed to be objective. But when a story gets weird, the journalist has an obligation to convey that. If a government behaves badly, the journalist is duty-bound to point it out. If he’s emphatic about it, that’s OK. Audiences and news managers like passion in storytelling, as long as all sides of the story get a fair hearing.
On WSB Wednesday, Jeff Dore made no effort to conceal his indignation as the city of Atlanta prosecuted a man who, as a volunteer landscaper, put mulch in a city park. “Joshua Pechter faces trial for putting bark in a park,” Dore wrote in a story about Pechter’s appearance in municipal court.
A city inspector cited Pechter for laying down mulch without a permit. Afterward, city officials called the citation a misunderstanding. Pechter and Dore expected to see the city drop its case in municipal court. “City officials vowed to make it go away,” Dore said. But nobody from the city showed up at the hearing, except for the city inspector who wrote the ticket and the prosecutor who backed him. “Instead of composting the ticket, they set a trial date,” Dore reported.
“When the volunteer mulcher went to court here, he stood all alone against a city bent on prosecution,” Dore said on WSB at 5pm.
At noon, Dore told the audience he expected to do a sit-down interview with the city official responsible for dropping or pursuing the case. By 5pm, there was no interview. Instead, WSB noted a new statement by the city calling the continued prosecution “a misunderstanding.” Yet Pechter has to go back to court. And folks who volunteer at city parks now do so at their peril apparently.
As usual, Dore’s storytelling was top-notch. And his indignation was understandable. Grade: A.