Yet as I've noted before, Bethel only makes the local news when 1) it has business before the city or county, or 2) one of its employees or members gets arrested, sued or does something that offends or "concerns" local reporters, editors or producers.
Anderson City Councilwoman Melissa Hunt has called out the Record Searchlight for one of those latter instances. In a Facebook post last weekend (and in some apparent haste), she wrote:
So a citizen asked me a couple of months ago if I had heard about the first complete immersion school going in Anderson and how excited she was about it that it was right here in Anderson. I had not. But I had heard of a charter school going into the old Verde Vale School in Anderson. The name was Tree Of Life International Charter School. My first question was if it was a Christian School cuz of the name. Immediate response was No, its a charter school with a cool name promoting kindness to all.The story in question is here. Melissa went on to say such reporting was why the paper "has the reputation it has in this community," and that she had stopped her subscription years ago but read the paper while house-sitting for a friend who still subscribes.
Then our local newspaper gets ahold of the story and trys to sensationalize it for who knows what reason. So their bend on the story in today's newspaper is that alot of the staff have connections to Bethel in Redding. Um, since when is a school staff member or teacher's religious connections important in their profession? It's not! I would suggest this article in today's #RecordSearchlight is blatant #ReligiousDiscrimination just for the sake of a story! SHAME ON YOU!!!!
You have taken something that is worthy of a celebration in our city and put a very inappropriate bend on it instead of the celebration of cultures along with promoting hate to a church that has done such amazing things for the greater Redding region!!! SHAME ON YOU!!! I mentioned how offending the article was to someone that I met at the celebration/Meet & Greet today at the school and her reaction was concern for what Bethel must think because it was being tied to the school when there was no such connection. THAT COMMENT in itself shows that there is no such connection.
Her post has generated two shares and about two dozen comments since Saturday. One commenter tagged Record Searchlight editor Silas Lyons and asked for an explanation, and Silas responded:
Matt appreciate you tagging me in the conversation. I'd like to give a thoughtful response and have a Kaos soccer game to watch at the moment. I appreciate all the feedback. More soon.That was Aug. 19. If Silas ever got back to Matt, he didn't do so publicly.
Speaking generally, we are living in an age when certain major corporate-owned news outlets are working very hard to create a permanent underclass of people who are not allowed in the public square because of their religious or political beliefs. Any contributions from these folks, anything they do to help children or heal divisions within their communities, is negated because they're an X. Unfortunately, this effort has been joined by these corporations' local appendages.
It's a classic example of why so many people think the news media as it exists today is a detriment to society and to local communities. But it's also an example of the quiet divide that exists in the news business (and is not new). When you share a budget with over 100 other properties nationwide and have long since outsourced your circulation department to a call center halfway around the world, you don't have to care if a couple dozen people stop their subscriptions over an article. But small, locally owned outlets, and niche outlets that cater to a specific audience, don't have the luxury of being that smug with regard to readership.
This is why it's never been more important for the consuming public to spend their money wisely when it comes to media sources. Does the news outlet you're using approach its work from the standpoint that we are one America and seek to heal and unify, or does it sow division and distrust among neighbors and try to create an underclass? The health of communities, and the immediate future of America itself, will depend on consumers exercising this level of discernment.