March 9, 2009

Jared Polis gets hell for speaking his mind. This is how we train our politicians not to say what they think, but to speak in platitudes.

Everyone knows (me especially) that print is having a hard time, that old media while wonderful in terms of investigative abilities, resources and integrity (it’s not an echo chamber like so many of we blogs) is fast becoming new media, or (in many cases) perishing. Congressman Jared Polis said as much, the other day, and got hell for it. Excerpt:

Rep. Jared Polis made the remarks last weekend at a Denver event sponsored by Netroots Nation, a progressive political group. The News published its last edition Friday.

“I have to say, that when we say, ‘Who killed the Rocky Mountain News?’ we are all part of that, we truly are. For better or worse, and I argue that it’s mostly for better,” the Democrat said.

“Media is dead, and long live new media, which is all of you,” he said.

Polis also said at the event that bloggers and citizen journalists carry a new responsibility since they’re part of the reason for the demise of other news outlets.

“We can’t just kill it and walk away,” he said. “It’s important for all of us to reach out to some of those … on the other side and present the progressive point of view,” he said.

John Temple, the former publisher and editor of the News, called Polis’ remarks misguided and said they were an example of the congressman’s poor judgment.

“The Rocky Mountain News was a pioneer in citizen journalism . . . and is an award-winning Internet newspaper,” Temple said.

Polis issued a statement Tuesday apologizing “to the entire Rocky Mountain News family and anyone who was offended by my recent remarks.”

“I did not mean to offend nor to show anything less than a strong sense of remorse for the loss of the Rocky,” Polis said. “Like many Colorado residents, I grew up reading the Rocky Mountain News and its demise and the loss of over 200 jobs is a major blow to our community, especially in these troubled times.”

Polis also had tempered his remarks on Monday, telling The Denver Post…

The more important issue, to me, is that once a citizen jumps into the public sphere we knee-jerk react to any statement that might offend…anybody…in any way. Well, the truth hurts. Sure, Jared and other politicians should be nice. I know Jared a bit, and can attest to his thoughtfulness.

What scares me more than an occasional lack of 100% tact is the prospect of draining the lifeblood out of this smart, savvy, new, young Representative. Let’s. Not. Do. It. Let’s give him, and the rest, license to say what they think—even, and especially, when we don’t agree with what they have to say.

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