(Main Street Lexington sign on the way into Lexington)
Today I’m sharing the Letter to the Editor I wrote in response to some unbelievable–truly not believable–reporting from The Roanoke Times. I’ll add a link if the letter gets published.
September 9, 2018
Dear Editor of The Roanoke Times:
I read with dismay Alison Graham’s article titled “Lexington-area tourism group beefs up marketing in wake of Red Hen controversy” (September 2, 2018). It is September, and the article features photographs from early July, neglecting to state that there have been no protesters outside the restaurant for months and that business is brisk, not only at the Red Hen, but throughout Lexington’s downtown restaurants. The City of Lexington has released its July, 2018, statistics for tax revenue from meals: $113,641 (*see the Lexington City website for a PDF of the official figures). This is a 1.4% increase from July, 2017.
Graham not only neglects to cite the increase in meal activity and revenue in the city, but she also cites “a slew of negative media coverage.” Full, responsible reporting would reveal publication after publication that lauded the quiet but firm action of the owner of the Red Hen back in late June. Not to report on actual revenue data and real, positive coverage of the Red Hen event is to present biased information. Furthermore, in the article, Graham uses the word “emergency” three times and the word “desperate” once. How does a revenue increase imply any kind of emergency or desperation?
Why do these misrepresentations matter so much? They matter because (1) facts should be crucial to fair reporting; (2) the Associate Press wire picks up this type of one-sided piece and then spreads the misinformation nationwide; and (3) our country more than ever needs to rely on careful, full reporting from its media outlets. The AP wire translates the Graham article as “tourism suffering after The Red Hen denied Sanders” (reprinted in your paper on September 2, 2018). As demonstrated above, this broadly distributed information is false.
I would hope that The Roanoke Times and the employees of the Rockbridge Regional Tourism Board would want to and choose to offer the truth—no protesters, positive coverage of what happened at The Red Hen, increased meal revenues, and seven new businesses opening in downtown Lexington.
Sounds quite robust to me!
Resident of Lexington, VA
(Main Street, Lexington, VA. Photo credit: A. Basu Choudhary)
(Main Street, Lexington, VA. Photo credit: S. Mayock-Bradley)