With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

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With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Post by Admin on Wed Jun 18, 2008 8:39 pm

Did you ever watch the Spiderman movies? I read the comic of that superhero all the time as a kid. He was one of my favorites. In the Spiderman movies that have been released, Spidey’s Uncle Ben tries to teach Spidey an important lesson; With great power comes great responsibility. That lesson has come home to us here at the Rumford Free Press as well.

Having a Website in town that releases information to the community is like having great power. We found that out when a member of the community was viciously attacked because people thought they were behind this website. This person suffered greatly due to these attacks. We really came to understand just how much what we do on this site could affect others.

The written word is a powerful tool. You have power to greatly influence the community that you are trying to serve. You can really affect people’s lives, a lot of people, in both positive and negative ways. You can affect the whole town. That’s great power. It should be used wisely.

The RFP believes that if you wield such power, you have a responsibility to make sure that the things you print are accurate. One of the reasons that we created this site is because we were aware that there were many inaccurate and at times irresponsible things being printed on the other website in town, The Rumford Reporter. Want some examples?

Take this quote from TRR about our Fire Department. “Members of the Union then moved to the high school driveway where several firefighters, who were on duty that night, helped pass out the union flyers to taxpayers as they arrived for the Annual Town Business Meeting.”

The members of the Fire Department that passed out flyers WERE NOT on duty that night. Here is the response from a member of the Fire Department. “This is a flat out lie! I can produce payroll sheets for that night and they where not on duty.” - Mark Tripp.

OK, so everyone makes mistakes. Let’s give TRR the benefit of the doubt and agree that this was just a mistake. It’s a mistake that has really hurt the reputation of the Fire Department and caused a lot of anger. Wouldn’t it be responsible for TRR to print a retraction and apologize? None has been printed to our knowledge. Instead we get a picture of a fire truck parked in front of the fire station with the ridiculous criticism about how the RFD blocks the sidewalk for our citizens. They have been saying for years that they need a new building and have been trying to do the best they can with what they have. Do we really need to criticize them because they have to park their vehicles on the sidewalk sometimes?

There are a lot of other examples of what we consider the misuse of power. What about attacking our Police Department for giving tickets? When town leaders that were “friends” of the TRR were caught not wearing their seatbelt, we were treated to a couple of TRR articles that told us there was a conspiracy that the RPD is out to get them. It didn’t matter that there is a state campaign to let the public know that the police across the state are going to enforce the seatbelt law and that you can now be pulled over for nothing more than not wearing it. It’s been all over the radio and we’ve all seen the “Click it or Ticket” campaign.

This “conspiracy theory” that blames the police honestly sounds pretty paranoid. They also told people how to get out of tickets. The worst thing they did though, was stir the community up towards the RPD. Our local Police force has an extremely difficult job. They put their life on the line every day to protect this community and are constantly dealing with difficult, high stress situations. Our town leaders and any responsible media outlet should be supporting them instead of trying to turn the town against them. That sort of writing is irresponsible in any aspect of the word.

While we talk of our Police Force and Fire Department, we want to add that we are extremely fortunate to have the high quality personnel we have working in these positions. How long do you think the really good ones will stick around in this environment? They will leave for places where they can concentrate on their jobs instead of fielding personal attacks and ridiculous criticism. We have already lost officers who publicly stated they were leaving due to the negative political climate around here. Who can blame them?

There are other examples we could cite. In fact, we could go on for awhile. Instead, we are offering a public challenge for the TRR to move towards more responsible and credible writing on their site. They have the opportunity to offer a great service to this community. We are simply asking that they use it responsibly.

Admin
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