Covering VAA: Balance and fairness are key | Editorial
June 19, 2012 · Updated 11:44 AM
The Beachcomber strives to be an honest broker, an independent voice on an island where loyalties run deep and passions strong.
It’s not easy, and of course at times we stray from that careful line. But for the most part, we refrain from what’s called “advocacy journalism” (think “Mother Jones”) and instead employ an impartial, measured voice. Our goal is not to be perfectly objective — that’s out of reach — but to be fair, to consider all sides.
Such has been our goal as we have covered the discussion now unfolding over Vashon Allied Arts’ proposed arts center. And if comments from Islanders are an indication, it’s possible we’ve achieved it.
An email from a member of VAA’s campaign cabinet complained that it’s time to have “more than negative publicity” — referring, in part, to two stories about the county’s public review process we recently ran. Meanwhile, an opponent of the project recently said that some of his associates believe The Beachcomber is in VAA’s pocket, referring, no doubt, to the positive press the organization receives week after week for its many events, fundraisers and productions.
The fact is, VAA will likely always get great press from the paper, because it’s a small and nimble organization that packs quite a punch — producing a remarkable array of shows and events and hosting a rich selection of classes that appeal to a wide range of Islanders. It’s woven into the fabric of this community. It touches nearly everyone on this Island.
At the same time, VAA is in the midst of a challenging process, attempting to secure a green light to build a large structure on a constrained site. The county is raising questions about VAA’s surface water management plan, the amount of parking in its design, the impact of the structure on the historic nature of Center and a few other issues.
It’s a public process, as well it should be. And The Beachcomber is attempting to cover it as fairly as possible, with room for both sides to get their say.
The same holds true with the Letters to the Editor section, where we’ve run every letter we’ve received on this issue. This week’s opinion page is a case in point. (Our policy is to run all letters that meet our guidelines — stated at the top of this page — though occasionally a letter falls through the cracks.)
The Beachcomber is not opposed to VAA’s project. We have a few specific concerns, most of which we’ve expressed directly to the organization and in editorials over the years. But we also believe the Blue Heron Arts Center is wholly inadequate to meet the organization’s needs, and we clearly see that a new structure is in order,
The process will continue, and stories will follow. And very likely, at some point in the near future, The Beachcomber will run a front-page story about a groundbreaking for a new arts center, an event replete with golden shovels and heady speeches. That, too, will be part of the process, and The Beachcomber will chronicle it. It’s what we do.