Paul Rolly: Vouchers camp spins news show

Published October 31, 2007 2:47 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

First, it was Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. who didn't know his comments at a pro-voucher news conference would be turned into a political ad urging voters to approve Referendum 1, prompting him to say he did not want to become a poster boy for vouchers.

Now, it is KSL's turn to take umbrage at the voucher advocates' attempts to turn the media giant into a pro-voucher toady.

The television station put a statement on its Web site taking issue with the voucher advocates' flier that implies "Eyewitness News" produced, or helped to produce, the voucher ad.

The flier points to a KSL story that analyzed ads being aired by both sides of the voucher debate. Reporter Richard Piatt questioned some points in the anti-voucher ads, and that's what the pro-voucher folks highlighted in their own fliers and ads "thanking" KSL for its truth in advertising test.

KSL News Director Con Psarras said the three-minute story was a complex analysis and to simply boil it down to a "true" versus "false" scenario is misleading.

"It's ironic that we do a 'truth test,' the intent being to distinguish between spin and actual fact, and the people who like what we did in that story take our material and spin it out of context," Psarras said on KSL's Web site.

KSL's news department takes no stand for or against vouchers, Psarras said. The station has editorialized against vouchers.

Poster child: Draper Elementary School teacher Britney Mendel stood out at the Utah Education Association's anti-voucher rally Monday as a "pro-voucher" public school teacher, telling reporters "public school isn't for everyone." She has become a poster child, saying the past few weeks in the media that not all public school teachers are against vouchers.

What she doesn't mention is that her mother is Robyn Bagley, a board member of the pro-voucher Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) who received $3,814 from PCE last year when she ran for the Legislature. She also benefited from the flurry of negative fliers the Utah Republican Party sent to voters attacking her opponent, Democratic incumbent Karen Morgan, which ultimately were paid for as part of the $58,600 donation the party received from PCE.

A little more info: Voucher supporters have touted projections of a 153,000 net increase of students in the public school system in the decade between 2005 and 2015. But they don't mention the projected increase of wage earning parents whose efforts will naturally expand the tax base.

They don't mention a Governor's Office of Planning and Budget projection that there will be 36 students per 100 working adults by 2010, 39 per 100 working adults by 2020 and back to 36 students per 100 working adults by 2030.

To put that in context, there were 48 students per 100 working adults in 1990.

Making a contribution: A small plane was buzzing around with a banner that promoted aerial advertising, contributing all the while to the gunky air on Monday.


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