Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Wisconsin County leaders (plural) discussed ways (plural) to flush free speech

Bad enough that Lafayette County officials had to pulled back from a constitutionally (state and federal)

Seal of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.svg

ruinous board resolution which would have left journalists open to prosecution if they failed to report about rural well contamination the way the officials wanted.

Worse news that officials in nearby Iowa County joined in through email discussing whether media could be forced to sign a 'cooperation agreement' covering local reporting.
According to emails released through a state public records request, Iowa County Board chairman John Meyers on Oct. 31 sent Grant and Lafayette county officials suggestions for the resolution, including to stress to the media that "under no circumstances are they to be allowed to glean information and selectively report it in order to twist results."
"Maybe make the press sign a cooperation agreement," Meyers wrote to Lafayette County economic development director Abby Haas and Grant County Board Chairman Bob Keeney. "Threaten to prosecute them for slander."
If these officials have a line they want repeated by media, and don't like the way the reporting is going, they are free to write or electronically release their own interpretation, post it on personal or official blogs and social media accounts, or open a newspaper, radio or TV station and send that message out to the world - - but telling media how to report and threatening prosecution if dissatisfied is unconstitutional, dictator stuff.

And there are no 'cooperation agreements' between media and officialdom.

Government agencies can make those agreements, as can litigants with mutual interests.

Parents and kids can put pen to paper to make sure homework gets done and grade point average targets are met, and, if not, someone's grounded.

But you won't find a newspaper's sports reporters inking such deals with team owners, or business journalists 'cooperating' as such with the banks they cover, or  restaurant critics agreeing to write up reviews just the way the restaurants prefer.

That's not reporting. It's advertising.

Officials in Southwest Wisconsin, just stop. You are embarrassing everyone and only increasing interest in what's happening with your communities water.. 

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