Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Smith Doing Nothing Wrong by Supporting Mass Transit

Star Columnist Erika Smith
Erika Smith must be one polarizing person if you read the blogs and social media posts of two local bloggers here in town.

Her crime?  She took the opinion to support mass transit and has used her column in the Indianapolis Star to push it.  Oh, the humanity.

First, there's blogger and local attorney Gary Welsh.  Welsh has spent a lot of time railing against mass transit on his blog and has taken time out from his Obama conspiracy theories to attack Smith for her spending column space on the issue of mass transit..  The Advance Indiana blogger would normally get a link to his blog when I discuss him or something that he wrote, but his treatment of Erika was so over the top and out of bounds, I'm not even going to dignify it by printing it here or linking you to it.

Then, there's Paul Ogden.  Paul is a friend, but he's also no fan of mass transit and has railed against Smith for spending column inches on the issue on Facebook and on his blog, as well.  While at a IndyCAN meeting, apparently a prayer was said.  Paul took to Twitter with this tweet:

Ogden didn't even take the time to look up what might have been on Smith's Twitter feed at the time where she was providing almost play-by-play coverage of the meeting.  Anyway, Smith tweeted this:

I get their point.  Smith has used her column to push the issue of mass transit, and she's done it a lot.  It's no different than when a columnist has a pet issue like education or women's rights or taxes or immigration or anything.  It's going to divide people, and some people will get angry about it.  It is, however, what newspapers do.  Smith is paid to give her OPINION.  She pointed this out to another angry tweeter just today.

As for me, I remain rather ambivalent on mass transit.  If we do it, I want it to be done right.  The only way to do it right is going to cost us a lot of money we don't have.  It's a vicious cycle that we've seen played over and over again in this town for the 37 years I've lived in and around it.  We've always needed mass transit, and we have to do something because the current system isn't working.  That said, I'm sympathetic to the arguments of those against it, too.

What I'm not sympathetic is just being plain nasty to someone because you disagree with them.  Abdul-Hakim Shabazz and I go back and forth at each other often, but I don't ever get disagreeable with him.  I think he's dead wrong on Senate Bill 621, and I did give him a little grief for standing up for "his man" Mayor Ballard the other day.  I think Abdul knows that I did it in fun and jest.  He'd do (and has done) the same to me.

I just can't stand being nasty to someone.  Gary Welsh's blog post was repulsive, and Paul Ogden's tweet was a real head scratcher.  What happened to agreeing to disagree?


Paul K. Ogden said...

Jon, who cares what she tweeted during the prayer? The fact is she was actually tweeting during the prayer is what is extraordinarily disrespectful. She couldn't stop tweeting for a 60 second prayer? You just don't do that. Do writers at the Pacers game continue to write during the National Anthem? No, they stop.

And, yes, there is most certainly something wrong with a columnist writing 10 columns in just a couple months time to push her pet political project. Name me one other newspaper who would tolerate a columnist doing that. Granted I don't blame her completely. It is obvious that the Indianapolis Star has decided they'd rather push a political agenda than be a respectful newspaper. Obviously writing 10 columns on the same subject isn't going to bring more readers to teh Star.

Unigov said...

The objection to Ms Smith's coverage is as follows:

1) The mass transit plan (HB 1011) is racist and wasteful. Instead of focusing on decent bus service where it's needed by poor black people (inside 465) it siphons massive dollars to developers. What would one expect from a plan written by rich white people from Carmel? The bill's chief sponsor is a Carmel Republican.

2) Ms Smith never presents any statistics or dollar figures to back up her support, yet she's written appx 8 columns in the past 6 months raving about transit. This isn't reporting, it's cheerleading, and I and many others believe she is paid by transit proponents to write those columns.

Repeating, the mass transit plan is racist and stupid. You can read more at www.unigov.com

Jon Easter said...

You're right, Paul. Who cares? Only people that have an ax to grind with Erika Smith!

Unigov...I am glad you believe that Smith is being paid by transit proponents, but do you have any proof?

guy77money said...

Stating your opinion on a subject is ok as long as it's a blog, tweet,or at the bar etc. But 10 columns on the same subject pushing the same agenda is ludicrous. My high school journalism teacher would have taken columns like Smith's writes and used the dreaded (she had a huge pair) scissors and cut them to pieces. Then we would get the dreaded "Give me facts and figures that support your useless drivel." She also believed you should search out both sides of a story. This was called good journalism.

I will take the bus upgrade along with plain clothes cops to arrest the idiots that make taking the bus a trying experience. As for light rail please show me the good and the bad Erika. PLEASE BE A GOOD JOURNALIST! Present both sides fairly with the facts and the figures. I hope that's why you went into the newspaper business.

One of these days I do hope Tully and Smith can address the rampant crime in Indy that they both have decided that it's just a inconvenience of the inner city living.

varangianguard said...

You have to remember, Smith and Tully are not journalists. They're columnists. They are paid to toot whatever horn they want, within the confines of the Star's editorial constraints. The Star has almost completely given up on employing journalists. Just one, or two holdouts that haven't been put out to pasture just yet.