Is this the current state of our journalism? Is this how the media really works? I certainly hope not. It is a truly unfortunate day in America when citizens are tried on the premise of guilty until proven innocent. Not sure what I am talking about? I have been a member of the Brainerd High School Key Club since about October, which is the approximate time rumors of the poker tournament began. We were seeking a viable way to raise money for a laudable charity in the United Way. However, our solution has been the subject of poor press of the worst kind.
First, members of the Key Club were never told that our actions would incur any legal ramifications. In addition, the illegality of the tournament has never been articulated. At no point in the Jan. 9 article are the exact laws cited in respect to those violated by the event.
Second, what kind of journalism excludes the opinion of those directly involved the tournament? No member of the Key Club or student at Brainerd High School has a voice in the entire article. This simple omission excludes an important side to this issue and creates an article, from beginning to end, that admonishes Brainerd High School for even considering the tournament. The article even ends with the statement that essentially any poker tournament "is likely illegal;" reflecting a subjective and partisan viewpoint consistent with an unfortunate number of articles in the Brainerd Dispatch. Ms. Tweed, is this how journalism works in the Brainerd Lakes Area? Am I supposed to tacitly consent to your idea of unbiased journalism?
Third, I have a hard time believing that residents of Brainerd can be so naive as to suppose that Brainerd High School is condoning gambling. The tournament, as stated in the article, did not involve any exchange of money besides the five dollar cover charge. So to the editor: do not post a title (to an Open Forum) that reads "Young people unlikely to win college tuition." At best this title is misleading and at worst this title is either an outright lie or simply ignorance. Also, the last time I looked, Brainerd High School offers 20 Advanced Placement courses (the most for any school in the state), is eighth in AP tests taken, is in the top 10 for AP tests passed, averages 20 points above the college board norm for AP test scores, recorded an 82 percent passing rate for AP tests taken, consistently averages above the typical ACT score, and was ranked in the best 700 schools in the United States by Newsweek magazine. Furthermore, while I have not been in a casino lately, nor am I allowed to, it is not the problem of the Key Club if 18-year-old adults visit casinos. That is their right, and it is not the concern of you (the letter writer) how much disposable income these adults have. Regardless of whether you think you are right or not, you are being set up to believe what we did as a group was wrong. How about investigating the validity of your brash claims!
Finally, there is a serious problem if the first line of defense is the local newspaper. The Brainerd Dispatch was the first medium with the "story," providing two front-page articles in addition to Open Forum articles with no higher purpose than bashing Brainerd High School and, specifically, a group of kids. If this is the state of our media, believing that a misunderstood charity event is evidence of social injustice and vice, maybe the Brainerd Dispatch should reevaluate its priorities and report actual news.
(Taylor Stevenson is junior at Brainerd High School and a member of the Key Club.)
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