Two editorial pages never more different


It doesn't get any clearer than this.

On Thursday, both the Review-Journal and the Sun editorialized on the state of the state's budget for the upcoming biennium. The two points of view fell on opposite ends of the political spectrum.

"Facing shrinking revenue, state lawmakers unfortunately seem to be resigned to slashing Nevada's two-year budget before the Legislature ends next month," the Sun editorial wept all over its sack cloth and ashes down at the soup kitchen.

While the Review-Journal editorial of the same day anecdotally compared the current budget situation to a worker who, after being promised a 17 percent raise and getting only 16 percent, complains about having to slash his spending.

"Welcome to the world of state lawmakers," our editorial said. "These days, Carson City is a hub of ungratefulness, disingenuous exaggeration and self-pity."

Then we laid out the raw facts: "Unlike our lawmakers, the numbers don't lie: $1 billion in new spending. A government growth rate that far outstrips population change and inflation combined. A 16 percent increase in general fund spending over the next two years. Budget growth of more than 60 percent over six years."

But the folks at the Sun see a gaping maw of social needs that must be filled with your money. They concluded: "Lawmakers should not hesitate to approve important programs, such as all-day kindergarten and highway construction, and pass the fees and taxes to pay for them."

From you who have the means to those who have the needs. Where have I heard that before? Sounds vaguely familiar, doesn't it?

As though you did not already know, it is now obvious which newspaper is on your side against those set on solving the woes of the world even if it takes the last dime of your money, and which sees you as a docile host for the parasitic bureaucrats.

-- Meanwhile, back in D.C.:

Late on a Tuesday afternoon in late March at the American Society of Newspaper Editors convention, the program was interrupted to bring forward a U.S. senator and two representatives with important news for all editors: They planned to introduce a bill that -- like laws in 31 states -- would shield reporters from being compelled in federal court to reveal sources of news stories.

"This is not about protecting reporters," Rep. Mike Pence R-Ind., told the editors. "It's about protecting the public's right to know."

The next morning, at a constituent breakfast for all three of Nevada's representatives, I was already whispering in ears that support for a federal shield law would be the right thing to do. The following morning I did the same at the constituent breakfast for both of Nevada's senators.

I figured I was the first editor in the nation to pitch the proposed bill to his entire delegation.

At the time, we were told the bill would be introduced in two weeks. Instead it was introduced simultaneously in the House and the Senate this past Wednesday under the heading of "The Free Flow of Information Act of 2007."

Passage of the bill would add an important underpinning to the principles embodied in the First Amendment. Too long have the courts taken the illogical stance that the press has the right to print information, but has no guarantees when it comes to gathering that information. Thus, allowing lazy federal prosecutors to use reporters to do their leg work.

This has resulted in reporters such as Judith Miller and book authors such as Vanessa Leggett spending months in jail for refusing to reveal their sources.

The new shield law proposal tries to balance the right of the public to unfettered access to news against legitimate interests of law enforcement and justice.

Therefore, it contains five exceptions. Sources would have to be disclosed if it is necessary to prevent imminent and actual harm to national security or to prevent imminent death or significant bodily harm. Also, disclosure of certain trade secrets, individual health or financial information would not be protected.

Gilbert Bailon, president of ASNE, noted, "The First Amendment guarantee of a free press is threatened by recent trends in the courts. We support this legislation's balanced approach to a federal shield law because it clarifies the role of all journalists and will allow us to better serve the public's right to know."

Thomas Mitchell is editor of the Review-Journal and writes about the role of the press and freedom of information. He may be reached at 383-0261 or via e-mail at tmitchell@reviewjournal.com.

 

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