The Great Falls Tribune is leading the charge (some might say "creating" the charge) to determine an identity for our town. The effort stems from what some thought was a patronizing guest editorial a while back by Claire Baiz, a local businesswoman. In her editorial, Baiz attributed human characteristics to many Montana cities, and, as I recall, dubbed our town the "ugly stepsister." Based on this, the Tribune has taken it upon itself to define a new theme, having pronounced "The Electric City" outdated.

I must confess, that I do not entirely support this effort. While I do agree that it might help us to assume 'an identity,' I am not comfortable with the Tribune's playing a major role. Why? Because I do not want our new 'identity' to be defined by the editorial board of the Great Falls Tribune.

Here's an example: In a secondary piece, the Tribune noted that casinos were frowned upon by "many respondents of all ages." What does that mean? First of all, they received "more than 200 submissions" in response to their inquiry about our identity. Out of 55,000 people. Second, how many is many? 50? 200? Is this a democratic process? Are we going to vote on a new identity?

Which brings me to the reason for my reticence. The Tribune will receive data from a very small, self-selected sample size. From that, they will pore over the results and declare 'an identity' for our town. But they will have indelibly stamped the results with their own beliefs and perspective.

What they are doing is not a bad idea. But I just hope they remember they are but a small part of our community, and many people live here who do not love the Tribune, and many things go on in this town of which the Tribune is nary a part.


Anonymous said...

I found it interesting that the comment against the casinos was placed at the beginning of the article and not further in. To me it shows a tiny crack in the ulterior motive of the Tribune and as always their bias.

ZenPanda said...

I contributed by filling out the online form.
I do agree that the Trib should NOT be the voice of our city or the defining body of it's identity.
I'm sure one of us can develope a online version to capture the essense of GF bloggers and find more to contribute.
(I hope I can remember how to create forms)

david said...

You're right, GeeGuy -- self-selection and inherent bias are of some concern...but I've gotta give the Trib some props for at least trying to energnize/motivate people on this issue.