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Saturday, November 16, 2013

A tip for Mr. Rutherford from Mr. Moynihan

The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan was colorful, quotable
and fact-driven.

On Tuesday, Plainfield Today posted a brief description of Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs event the Friday before concerning the Plainfield African-Caribbean Commission (see here), which fellow blogger David Rutherford wrote about as its 'official kickoff' (see his blog post here).

My point was that two things were not clear from reading Rutherford's report: whether this was indeed the official kickoff and whether in fact the members have been duly appointed.

Mr. Rutherford posted the following comment to Plainfield Today --

Confusing? lol ... it was a simple event. They had a mission statement, they talked a little bit about black people uniting, calling it a "historic occasion in plainfield". Signing what? The paper that makes the committee official...that's what the implication was.

Words are important. Why else would we blog?

But it is important to use them correctly and with some precision.

What caught my eye was Rutherford's use of the word 'official'. A person reporting such an event should know the difference between 'official' and 'ceremonial' and make the distinction.

As the Commission was set up by ordinance, Mayor Robinson-Briggs would have had to sign the ordinance within a certain amount of time or it would have been considered vetoed. That time (counting from its adoption on September 9) would have expired long before the November 8 event. So, it could hardly have been 'official'.

It certainly could have been 'ceremonial', though. Signings and swearings-in are often done 'officially' as part of office routine or at inconvenient times (12:01 AM for swearings-in), with a 'ceremonial' repetition later in front of an appropriate audience.

A reporter should understand and make the distinction, no matter what the public officials' 'implication' is.

Then there is the matter of the Commissioners. Mr. Rutherford simply acknowledges their number and countries of origin. But there is no word as to the unusual circumstances. Were these appointments made in a duly lawful and appropriate manner? Isn't it strange for the terms not to coincide with the normal start-and-end dates of January 1 and December 31?

Once again, readers are not well-served by the omission.

One is entitled to align with any, all or none of the actors in the scene being described. After all, what is blogging about?

But if one is to expect respect from readers (whether or not they agree with one's opinions), one has an obligation to go behind the actors' words to describe the facts of what is being observed.

As the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan is said to have remarked, 'everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts' (see here).

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

The one with torn clothes mocks the naked.

Anonymous said...

Readers can form their own opinions, Dan. You are ridiculous. Who do you think you are? You are such an embarrassment. Your venom and vile is bad for the city. Your posts are always about attacking someone. Are you running out of things to write about?

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should have gone yourself. Really Dan, what's your problem. Was this worth a post? You seem to have a real unhealthy attraction to Mr. Rutherford. Calm down.

Deborah Dowe said...

The average age of elected officials, in Plainfield, continues to trend rather high. A rare and priceless treasure are the young people who are willing to actively participate in public life, run for office and add a thoughtful voice to the public discourse.

Anonymous said...

You have a lot of nerve! Most of your posts are outright lies!

Dan said...

3:23 PM -- I might have gone if I had known about it. Did you get an invitation? The Council members didn't. Did the public? Thank you for bringing up this other point.

Anonymous said...

Young man Rutherford lost me with his final comments at the league form, i am sure your parents taught you better