EDITORIAL: Today's society empowers too few people
There was a time when a person could dial a phone number, ask a question and get a straight answer. Today, you're more likely to be told to call back when a supervisor is available. That's a growing problem faced by reporters. On the federal leve...
There was a time when a person could dial a phone number, ask a question and get a straight answer.
Today, you're more likely to be told to call back when a supervisor is available.
That's a growing problem faced by reporters. On the federal level, you can't get information from anybody without first talking to a public relations rep. It's a waste of time because, in most situations, they can't answer your questions anyway. For instance, if you want to know whether there are PCBs in St. Louis River sludge, you must call the PR person, who admits knowing nothing about the situation, then refers you to the expert you sought in the first place.
An increasing number of law enforcement agencies are doing the same thing. You better call when the top dog is available, because the puppies are all muzzled -- even for simple info about a fender bender.
But this weird scenario was carried to the extreme Friday when The Telegram called Superior's public library with a photo request. Nora Fie, manager of Children's/Young Adult Services, already had sent out a news release asking the media to publicize a recall of toys the library distributed. They had learned those toys contained an unacceptably high content of lead, and should be returned. The Telegram wanted to photograph one of the toys so our readers could better determine if they had one of the tainted culprits.
But with Fie and Library Director Janet Jennings both taking the day off, nobody felt empowered to give the OK. So our request was refused.
Good grief! You'd think we were trying to slip some depraved literature -- "Catcher in the Rye" or "Slaughterhouse-Five" -- on the shelf.
One can only assume the good library folks protected themselves from a dangerous liability issue, or worse, a nasty note on their annual performance review. Hopefully, some kid isn't unknowingly chewing on one of those toys that we could have better warned their parents about.