The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
It is the nature of people who run an organization to do so with as little interference as possible from people outside the organization. When the organization is a sole proprietorship or private corporation, it's entirely within the owners' rights. Public corporations have more responsibility, since their actions directly affect their investors. The greatest degree of openness is expected of government and other entities that take taxpayer money, yet there is still resistance to public disclosure.
The Sunshine Law requires that meetings and records be open, but most citizens have neither the time nor the knowledge to view the many meetings or dig into the records. These tasks are the job of the press and other media. What the press doesn't report goes unknown by the citizens and government is conducted without the needed public scrutiny.
There are many reasons the press may not look into some matters to the depth needed. Sometimes it's a case of too many agencies and not enough reporters. Sometimes it's a case of the agency avoiding scrutiny by being as obscure as possible in its compliance with public notice requirements or by holding meetings (such as "work sessions") that the press is led to believe will not be important. Sometimes, pressure may be brought to bear on the press to reassign reporters who dig too deeply. The reason doesn't matter; we are all diminished when a public body operates without adequate public surveillance.
When more than one news outlet exists, the press is likely to be more competitive in finding and publishing stories. This helps ensure that major and minor issues are covered and dissenting opinions are heard. If there is a press monopoly or a highly-dominant outlet, it is incumbent on that outlet to dig deeply and fully report what it finds.
When a city like Warrensburg loses a news outlet, we all lose. While local internet news and blogs can make up some of the slack, a large segment of our citizenry will never have access to them. We can only hope that the phoenix will again rise from its ashes to provide the alternative we need.
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