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Tim Saunders' Blog

May 21, 2010
(Page 6 of 16)

Someone asked me several weeks ago how I felt the election was going to turn out.  I told them candidly "I'm not an expert, but I know the Liberty vote is going to be a major factor."  LU canceled classes for the entire day and offered every student a free ride to the poll.  In a race where roughly 20-thousand ballots were cast, I knew that at least a thousand or two would be coming from LU and that most of those votes would go to the Republican.

I have heard many argue that LU students don't deserve a voice in Lynchburg's local elections.  They argue that students - most of whom live in dorms or temporary housing - aren't paying property taxes in the city and therefore shouldn't have a say in who represents the area.  LU students counter that they are paying taxes in the city, whether it be through food or other sales taxes.  They also believe that Liberty as an institution is effected by the actions of Lynchburg's elected leaders.  Students say they want someone in office who will serve their interests, particularly on issues of zoning and property rights that LU Chancellor Jerry Falwell claims were taken away in the early 90's.  Falwell has made it very clear to students that he wants them to vote and vote locally.

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One of my stories on Monday focused on the LU voting issue.  In case you missed it, you can check it out here.  As always, feel free to share your thoughts with me on this or any other topic.

October 23, 2009

Should a runaway case be reported on Your Hometown Station?

You've seen many stories on our news this week about Morgan Harrington, the Virginia Tech student and Roanoke County native who went missing after a concert in Charlottesville. She does not appear to have taken off on her own accord.

One story you have not seen on our news is about a 16-year-old girl who was missing from the Bedford area. She disappeared for about a week and was later found in California, having reportedly hitchhiked to get there. Unlike Morgan Harrington, this girl left on her own.

At News 7, we have a policy not to report the disappearance of runaways. Other local TV stations also follow this policy. At least one station, however, chose to report on the Bedford girl's disappearance, even though the Bedford County Sheriff's Office believed the girl was a runaway before she was located.

While the girl was still missing, I received several calls and e-mails from people wondering why we did not do a story on the Bedford girl. My own brother even alerted me to the issue, not realizing I was already aware of it. I've read postings on several websites from local residents, wondering why some of us in the media did not report on the case. Not everyone who was asking about the case was from Bedford and it's likely they did not know the girl personally, yet they were concerned for the girl's safety and wanted to know if she had been found. It seems there was interest in the case, which is generally one criteria we use in deciding whether to report on something.

Let me say this - I stand behind my television station, my news department, and our policies. I also recognize the ethical dilemma - on one hand, you have a minor whose parents desperately want to bring them home. At the same time, that minor made a conscious decision to leave. Does it make sense to use our air time to look for a person that doesn't want to be found?

Some would argue that minors in particular aren't mature enough to decide whether they should be found or not. Those same people would say that our airwaves could be a crucial resource in bringing a runaway home before someone has a chance to harm them.

I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic.  Send me an e-mail or leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

September 18, 2009

Friday was a very difficult day for me, for many reasons.

It was personally very sad for me to sit back and watch the Olde Liberty Station burn.  As a Bedford native, I can appreciate what the restored train station meant to my hometown.

Olde Liberty Station is much more than a restaurant for us.  It's a community gathering spot.  You would often find a cross-section of the community dining there.

The dining room is regularly packed.  People drive for many miles and even other states to sample the station's steaks and seafood.  It draws people into Bedford and contributes to the city's economy.

Beyond what it offers now, Liberty Station is woven tightly into the fabric of Bedford's past.  Think of all the people who passed through the building in its days as a passenger train station.  The platform out back is where loved ones said goodbye to the famous "Bedford Boys," who sacrificed so much on the front lines at D-Day.

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