Letter to the Editor: Advice to officials on press relations
John Green [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2023.
Editor’s Note: This commentary in defense of the newspaper by retired attorney, John Green, came following a city council meeting where public officials indicated the Ocala Gazette and its publisher, Jennifer Hunt Murty, had a “vendetta” against the city of Ocala. You can watch that conversation at the 6 minute mark using this link: https://bit.ly/47TNOY3
Having been a subscriber to the Gazette from its early days, I have been impressed with the quality and objectivity of its staff. Having served multiple terms on the Ocala City Council decades ago, I know the feeling of being stung by articles in the press. However, I learned not to forget that the press has an obligation to report to the people that put us in office, and public officials are there to serve our residents and not be thin skinned and petty in relations with the press.
Public officials should learn that when they disagree with articles in the Gazette, they should either objectively reevaluate the criticism and consider whether change might be appropriate, or if there is a feeling that the press misunderstood what happened, open up and discuss the matter with the reporters and provide them more access to information so they have more understanding.
We live in a time where our public officials are disassembling the Government in the Sunshine Act and attempting to control the press to print only what they want. This is dangerous and any public official afraid of the Gazette shining a light on their activities needs to be replaced. Having some contact with Jennifer Murty and observing her ethical values, there is no doubt as to whether I would believe her or a public official if I were required to choose.
I hope the Gazette never loses its courage and hope all of our public officials reconsider their relations with the press and especially the Gazette.