Bias Noticed at The Wichita Eagle

I received this commentary from a person who believes he noticed some bias in reporting appearing in The Wichita Eagle.

… I visited with Eagle writer Dion Lefler regarding the language he used to describe the Sedgwick County Commission meeting the day after Sedgwick County Commissioners voted 5 to 0 to raise the mil levy. I told him politely that I had a “bone to pick” with him regarding the semantics he used in that article when he referred to our group as the “anti-tax group”. I said to him, “Whenever you use the word to describe any group as “anti” you automatically send a negative message to your readers that actually shows your personal “bias” against that particular group.” I pointed out that we are not “anti” anything, but on the contrary we are taxpayer advocates and perhaps should be referred to as the “pro-taxpayer group” or the “taxpayer advocate group”.

I asked him why he did not refer to our opponents at the hearing as the “anti-taxpayer group”. If he had done that in his article, perhaps he could have achieved the “balance” that newspapers try to achieve. He could then rightly refer to our lower tax and less government taxpayer advocate group as the “antitaxers” and our opponents, the more government and higher tax advocate group, as the “antitaxpayers.”

I pointed out to Dion that our opponents who spoke at the hearing were primarily two groups. One group represented primarily government staff people who wanted their particular program funded and their well-scripted clientele who spoke of their need and dependence on government programs to help them with their alcohol, depression, drug, mental, or senior problems. The other group wanting additional taxpayer money were six figure executives from the aircraft industry dressed in their suits and ties begging for additional largess from the public treasury (“corporate welfare”) for an industry that already receives massive taxpayer subsidies. Our group, the “taxpayer advocate group” was speaking for thousands of property taxpaying people (“widows and orphans included”) who were not present and who were not represented particularly by the people that they elected to represent them.

Dion admitted that he saw my point and that he would take it into consideration in future reporting. I hope he was serious and follows through. I believe AFP, KTN, and other taxpayer advocacy groups need to take the lead in insisting on positive and balanced reporting rather than the biased and slanted work that we have unfortunately learned to tolerate as normal.

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