Thursday, March 30, 2006

Covering both sides of the fence....

During a recent edition of KFIZ's "The Focus" I was accused of not covering both sides of the Fond du Lac School District's $8.7 million referendum. On the surface it may have seemed that way. Now the real story.

Whenever there's a divisive issue I try to cover both sides of it. Sometimes there's no organized opposition, note the term "organized." Then again it may be an effort that pops up late in the game.

When I became aware of organized opposition to referendum I called the person I was told was leading that effort. I got his voice mail and left a message inviting him or some representative of the group to come on "The Focus." A week later someone representing the group did get back to me. Thank you Mike Fredrich. He agreed to do a taped interview because he was in Washington, D.C. at the time on company business. In the meantime we did a show on the referendum with school district officials. Mike's interview airs on "The Focus" Friday (3/31/06) morning at 11:30 a.m. unedited.

Anyone who is a regular listener of "The Focus" probably knows that every couple of weeks we have the Superintendent of the District (Greg Maass) on the morning of a school board meeting. This was arranged to give listeners a chance to hear what's going on in the district and perhaps incentive for attending the meeting themselves or watching it on cable television. The last couple shows with him did revolve around the referendum and the school board meetings those evenings also had question and answer sessions about the referendum. The last Monday morning of a school board meeting the majority of the show was spent talking about other things going on in the district.

I've covered a number of referendums over the years and have tried to give both sides. However more than anything else I've found that it's better to give as Jack Webb was fond of saying in "Dragnet," just the facts. The interviews we did with the district were designed to get out the facts. It's up to a voter to decide who or what they believe. I try to play devil's advocate when there is no one to give an opposing point of view. It's not always a successful ploy because you can't always ask the question that someone else wants to ask, but won't step forward to pose.

The best job I ever did covering a referendum happened while I was working in Beaver Dam as the Dodgeland School District was trying to push through a referendum. After 30 years of being rejected by voters the district was able to pass a comprehensive school building referendum. Half of the people I talked to though I was leaning in favor of the school district and the other half accused me of supporting the opposition.

Don't sit on a fence, get out and vote on Tuesday, April 4th.


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