Stonecipher: Shreveport Elected Officials Not Held Accountable By Local Media
Shreveport-Bossier is America's fastest shrinking metropolitan economy according to data from the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The most obvious question to ask is how did this happen? Who is responsible and how does this get fixed?
Shreveport demographer Elliott Stonecipher says the problem comes down to no accountability.
"We have such a racially divided city and have historically, when we elect people to public office here, what they know is that they can finesse the news media," explained the Shreveport demographer. "They can finesse the opinion leaders. They can accuse them of being racist one way or the other. The news media today in many places, Shreveport included, is a shadow of its former self."
Stonecipher said that the local news outlets either don't have the desire or push to seek out the truth and hold our leaders accountable or the content that they do pull out is critique, labeled and disregarded.
"What we have is no 'sheriff'. There is no accountability," continued Stonecipher. "There is no newspaper front page to worry about, there is no group of ministers to worry about, there is nobody who is going to do anything about anything that happens."
Think of news outlets in other metropolitan areas. The most obvious example of what Stonecipher is talking about are newspapers like the New York Times, New York Post and New York Daily News in New York City. Anytime there is a scandal, even just a hint of one, that front cover is the first thing that people see and think of when they go to the ballot box or are asked for their opinion about a particular subject.
"We depended on the media for that accountability," Stonecipher noted. "For decades, we had it here. We don't now. It's a big problem."
And the Shreveport demographer added that this is a fairly unique problem.
"I do see that there are small markets, smaller than Shreveport-Bossier let's say, that still have really daily newspapers, for example, because they are relatively mature markets," Stonecipher stated. "You have East Texas towns that still get daily news, their local TV and radio stations provide it. It's very unique to have a place like Shreveport-Bossier for there not to be a front page for politicians to not worry about. It's a pretty unique problem."
However, it's not so unique of a problem that other Louisiana communities don't complain of it either.
"We hear the complaint more and more from other places in Louisiana, too," Stonecipher explained. "You don't hear it from Baton Rouge. You don't hear it from New Orleans. You increasingly don't hear it from other places along I-10 and I-12 that are in fact being expanded into by the Baton Rouge Advocate."
And Stonecipher noted that the issues with media also tell a deeper problem Shreveport is facing.
"If people here who work hard, do their jobs, care about their city, pay their taxes, when they find out that things like corruption are just accepted now, that the absence of work ethic among public officials is just accepted now, that you can't talk about those things because you get accused of racism, I think it all adds up to suppression of what we all had thought for decades was a common community interest and goal of good government and growth," Stonecipher told 710 KEEL.
He continued that the way to solve these problems hasn't be solving the problems.
"What would jump start that is where we are left. What in the world can step into that vacuum in Shreveport an kick things off again and the answer is it's supposed to be elections and it's supposed to be the media and neither of those is working."
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