Media diversity doesn't foster fairness
Think about the media outlet that you get most of your news from. Does it present a balanced amount of information on all sides of the issues? Considering all of the forms of media we enjoy today, certainly all viewpoints are represented or have the opportunity to be heard. There is no shortage — and some would say an overabundance — of information out there. The trouble is how many of us have the time to tune in to even a few of them on any given day?
Chances are the media outlet you get your news from is either right- or left-leaning in its presentation of the debatable issues. Chances are you tune in to the outlets that most agree with your right or left tendencies, especially when pertaining to the most controversial issues. It's just as difficult to find a right-winger who watches Jon Stewart as it is to find a left-winger who knows where to find Bill O'Reilly on the radio dial.
I believe the proliferation of one-sided news media outlets has a lot to do with our political polarization in our society today. Not only are the viewpoints usually one-sided, they can instill a hatred for the "other side."
The Fairness Doctrine tries to address this imbalance of distribution of information — not across all outlets, but within any outlet. It's not intended to suppress viewpoints or information. It intends to protect diversity of ideas. It is not a liberal attack on conservatives. It is an attempt to balance the information we consume.
In the meantime, we will just have to rely on the American people to make balanced media decisions or seek out balanced media outlets, even as that is getting more difficult to do.
Brad Duncan, St. Petersburg
Teacher advocate will be hard to replace
Pinellas County has lost our most experienced and reasoned voice and advocate for education: Jade Moore. The leader of the Pinellas teachers union, he embodied his generation who grew up in a troubled world and concluded there was an obligation to make a positive contribution to that world so others might live better lives. Jade took his experiences from the classroom and combined them with a greater purpose: to help forge a better direction for the entire education system.
For the last 34 years, Jade sifted through the minutiae of the problems facing the district and pointed us in productive directions. Too often of late, those directions were not followed.
My hope is that his legacy is an inspiration to other clear-minded and forward-thinking individuals to take up his lifelong battle to build an education system of which the community is proud. Who will take on this tremendous responsibility?
Michael Taylor, Clearwater
Jade Moore will be missed
It will be impossible to replace Jade Moore, who has provided leadership and guidance to the teachers in Pinellas County for 34 years. Jade always took the time to listen to the teachers and advise them on their decisions. Jade led the county in going to Tallahassee and lobbying for the teachers. Jade led negotiations with the School Board. Jade will be sorely missed by all of us. Our prayers go out to his family.
Margaret Hyde, Clearwater
Vouchers reduce cost of education | Dec. 17
The voucher deception
This article was very misleading. Vouchers should cost less than regular education.
How many private schools have to have programs for delinquents? For special ed? For students who speak a foreign language? For guidance counselors?
How many private schools have to take every student who shows up at the front door? How many private schools are held accountable for students who do not attend and/or disrupt classes?
Private school students do not have to take the FCAT. How are private schools held accountable?
The fact is that poor children can and are learning in public schools every day. Most children, rich or poor, who fail at school have been failed by their parents and community. In short, vouchers don't save money, they just skim the cream off the top.
Jim Bailey, Clearwater
Good reasons to put Kennedy in Senate Dec. 18, Susan Estrich column
Kennedy's a winner
In my opinion, the Kennedys are just natural born champions for the people. And I couldn't agree more with Susan Estrich's column. As far as I'm concerned, Estrich's closing line is quite well said and it speaks volumes: "She (Caroline Kennedy) doesn't need the Senate, but the Senate could certainly use her."
It's so very true. Kennedy doesn't need the money, or the aggravation that goes along with the job, as well as losing much of her privacy and becoming a political target. Nevertheless, Kennedy is confident that she's the candidate to get the job done, for altruistic reasons alone.
My hunch is that if New York Gov. David Paterson appoints Kennedy, not only will she win the election in 2010 in order to keep the Senate seat, but will also win a second term. I wish Caroline Kennedy well.
JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater
Qualities for leadership
On Dec. 18, there were two columns side by side, with two points of view on the qualities and characteristics candidates should have.
Susan Estrich (Good reasons to put Kennedy in Senate) holds that a candidate should have: money and contacts to get more money, plus influence with powerful people who can raise hundreds of millions of dollars (even more money). That's it! She says that knowing anything is beside the point.
Joe Scarborough (Florida deserves a better speaker), after considering what focusing on money has done for his old friend, House Speaker Ray Sansom, holds that judgment and character are what future political leaders need.
I would go along with Joe's two qualities and raise him three: intelligence, open-mindedness and humility.
Would that there were a way to set standards for candidates other than merely place of birth and time resided in a jurisdiction.
Mortimer Brown, Lutz
Wealthy should step up | Dec. 17, letter
Orchestra is worthy
Thank you to the letter writer for his views on the lack of financial support of our fabulous Florida Orchestra by the wealthy in our community. We are retired and have lost our buying power in this economy, but have long felt it is an embarrassment that funding goes to other causes and our orchestra struggles on.
Please support this jewel, or we may see it go away. Many of us love it dearly but cannot afford more than tickets each year.
Sylvia M. Camburn, Clearwater