Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Enough is Enough

James Sturdivant, the former editor of the Chestnut Hill Local, offers a few words of advice to those now running the Local. He also makes an observation or two on the state of the publication. This letter was sent to the Local on Jan. 13, 2006, for publication in the January 19 issue. For those of you who may not read the paper, here is his take on developments.

Ladies and gentlemen, your newspaper has hit a new low, having gone in a few short months from a reputable publication that reflected positively on its publisher (whether they deserved it or not) to something decidedly less than what the current CHCA leadership seems to want it to be – that is, an effective mouthpiece for their never-ending, retroactive justifications for the ugly events of late 2005.

The Local right now reminds me of nothing so much as the surreal fare offered on small-town public access television – poorly produced, excessively verbose and so wrapped up in its own little reality that it remains totally unaware that nobody much understands, or cares, where it is coming from. Yet, like the proverbial train wreck, we read (or watch) anyway, with a kind of morbid fascination. We would laugh, were the ruination of our community newspaper not so infuriating.

Are they trying to prove their detractors right, flaunting their control over the editor to the extent that propaganda labeled as truth appears at the top of page one?

Are the obvious, demonstrable distortions of fact (apparent to anyone who attended the community meeting at the library in November) meant to prove, once and for all, the assertions of rampant lying?

Just what good do they think will come, to them or anyone else, by dragging this sordid business out further?

Shall we revisit, once again, matters such as the staff restructuring at the newspaper that created a new editor position above mine, implemented without even the pretense of board approval (and never mentioned in last week’s article), that was the true precipitating event of last year’s crisis?

If the CHCA leadership is going to persist in publishing opinion pieces full of slanted facts, strategic omissions and outright fabrication, they should do so on page 4 or 5 and turn the front page back over to local news.

People in Chestnut Hill are sick to death of reading about this stuff. We want to hear the latest on repairs to the roof of the Water Tower Recreation Center and the fate of the Commerce Bank fiasco on the corner of Evergreen and Germantown avenues. We want to read about trail repairs, new businesses and plans for the Sugarloaf property, PennDOT’s finalized streetscape proposal and an update on CHA’s campus building program.

We want, in other words, our newspaper back. The CHCA needs to find themselves a good editor and back off.

James Sturdivant
Chestnut Hill


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