It’s one of the mantras I recite every now and then when describing journalism trends in this troubled age: Opinion is cheap, while information is expensive.
Week after week, readers send us the URLs to opinion pieces and op-ed essays about subjects that, in a previous age, might have received serious news coverage that explored the views of people on both sides of these arguments and standoffs.
This does not mean that these pieces are not important or that they don’t contain valid information about important news stories.
That’s certainly the case with this “opinion column” that was published recently by the Alabama Media Group — AL.com — with this headline: “Why does God need public records? In Alabama, that’s a real question.” The author is political columnist Kyle Whitmire.
The overture is somewhat confusing, but that’s sort of the point. What we have here is a case that involves press freedom, religious freedom, the death penalty and who knows what all. It’s a bit of a mystery.
Why in the name of God would anyone need a public record?
After all, doesn’t the Almighty already know what those documents show?
Those aren’t rhetorical questions. For Tabitha Isner, they were real, asked of her by a lawyer for the Alabama prison system. And she had to answer under oath.
Swear to God.
Or, if you care about transparency and accountability in government, just swear.
Like the Holy Bible, maybe we should start in the beginning.