Salt Lake Mayor Mistreated by Local Media,
by Joshua Ewing, Communications Director, Salt Lake City
As Mayor Anderson's Communications Director, new to Salt Lake City, I am learning how it works here with the news media. Mayor Anderson is cited for a minor traffic infraction and expired registration; a newspaper reporter calls him at home after midnight to ask him about it; during the next week (while a lot of really good and important things are happening that are not getting reported), at least eight articles, columns or editorials about the citations run in the two major newspapers (and at least as many stories on television news); then editorial writers make it appear that this entire frenzy was somehow generated by Mayor Anderson. KSL-TV News even reported about the citations while misleadingly showing old video footage of Mayor Anderson at a press conference on an entirely different topic. (As a result, we have received dozens of angry calls from people who were misled into believing that Mayor Anderson held a press conference over this matter.)
Contrary to the assertions made in a recent Tribune editorial (April 16), Mayor Anderson has never complained about receiving the citations. (And contrary to the editorial, he was not a "defense lawyer.") He considers strict enforcement of traffic laws by our police officers an important part of keeping our streets safe. He has also made it clear that he does not want special treatment. When asked by the reporters about the matter, he simply noted that he thought it was strange that a police officer would follow him for more than a mile in order to find some pretext for stopping him, and that he was detained for a significant period of time until a sergeant arrived at the scene.
For the press to generate these stories, then to misrepresent that Mayor Anderson complained about the citations when he did not, is unfair and irresponsible. To make matters worse, while that fare was being dished out to the public, Mayor Anderson and others from Salt Lake City were speaking in Denver to large, enthusiastic audiences of transit advocates, who were praising our mass transit "success stories" as a model for Coloradoans, yet not a word about any of that was to be found in the Tribune. Neither did the Tribune report about the national "Best Practices" recognition by the US Conference of Mayors for Mayor Anderson's pedestrian safety initiatives. And how much press has there been about the innovative new youth programs initiated by Mayor Anderson? Or about the reduction in the crime rate? Or about the many recent high "best places to live" rankings received by Salt Lake City?
If minor citations are newsworthy, then so too, certainly, is Mayor Anderson's support of, and activities during the past month with, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Black History Dinner, St. Joseph's Villa, National Conference of Community & Justice, Seeds of Peace, Community Nursing Services, the University of Utah's College of Fine Arts, and Guadalupe Schools. Where is the coverage about his work with those organizations? Mayor Anderson spends almost every evening and week-end working with organizations like these to help make this a better community, yet the news coverage seems reserved for unnoteworthy matters like a signaling citation.