Yellow Journalism and the Orlando Sentinel

   As a resident of DeBary, Florida, I sought election to the DeBary City Council in 2005 and in 2008.  Between 2005 and 2008, I was active in supporting my candidate for Volusia County School Board in 2006.  I supported Gene Stump for school board in 2006, and as a former teacher of 26 tears, I offered Gene advice whenever he asked  for an opinion. 

   Before the 2006 election, a newspaper writer for the ORLANDO SENTINEL named Mike Lafferty wrote an article for his newspaper.  In his column, Lafferty stated that he thought that the incumbent school board member, Vicki Bumpus, was a great school board member.  He even thought that Ms. Bumpus was possibly one of the greatest board members ever. 

   Now it turns out that the Orlando Sentinel was encouraging residents to stop by their office and let them know “your thoughts about their paper.”   I decided to stop by the Orlando Sentinel office located in Orange City.  I entered and asked the receptionist if I could speak to Mike Lafferty.  After a few minutes, Lafferty came out into the waiting area, and I introduced myself and shook hands.  Lafferty stated that he knew who I was since I stopped at his house in 2005, to distribute some of my political literature. 

   I got right to the point and told Lafferty that I had read his article that stated that Ms. Bumpus was a wonderful school board member.  I then asked Lafferty to name just ten votes that Ms. Bumpus cast that made her such an asset to the community.  He looked extremely pained and uncomfortable.  It turned out that the only thing that Lafferty knew about board member Bumpus was who she had voted for when they selected a new superintendent.  He could not name anything else.  NOT A SINGLE THING.  He could not even tell me anything about the school board budget. 

   Now let me be clear, Mr. Lafferty is entitled to form his opinion without any relevant facts.  Unfortunately the article written by Lafferty was not on the editorial/opinion page.  I told Lafferty that he was entitled to his opinion and I was entitled to my opinion.  My opinion was, and I made this very clear to Lafferty,  that forming an opinion without relevant facts was a nefarious form of yellow journalism.  It is also my opinion that a newspaper that employs yellow journalists is indeed a yellow journalist newspaper. 

   In the upcoming election, I hope that the residents study the various positions of all of the candidates and vote for the individual whom you believe best represents your viewpoints.  I sincerely hope that you do not base your vote on any newspaper endorsement.  After all, the endorsement might just be written by a dim witted individual, devoid of facts, and written only to try to impress a senior editor or publisher in hopes that the writer can gain favoritism with the newspaper. 

                                                        R. Van Conoley

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