You all may recall my (part one of many) discussion on objectivity last post. Well, here it is. My encounter. Here’s the deal:
Pennsylvania cut state funding to libraries by about 30 percent. They also cut access to POWER library, online database registry, by about 75 percent.
Since then, our libraries have been closing their doors, sending home staff, raising fines and cutting programs. It’s bad. They’ve been cut down to the bone.
In fact, since Rendell came into office, library funding has steadily declined to alarming levels, and Cumberland County Library System has had to cut one-fifth of its total budget–$142,000– in new materials. So don’t expect new books when heading to your Camp Hill library.
This year, libraries are up against an additional 9.1 percent cut in state funding.
They just don’t know what to do. In most cases, there’s nothing left to cut but essential library services and new materials. They’re looking to find funding from other sources like resident donations and bequests so they don’t have to make those difficult decisions.
But then I sit down to write this.
What’s my lede? There’s the option, “Expect fewer books on the shelves of your midstate library next year.”
But let’s face it, that doesn’t convey the urgency of the situation. That sounds like, “Eh, it’s just a few books, and it’s not until next year.” It doesn’t show the cumulative effects of funding cuts that brought CCLS down to where they were ten years ago.
I could instill fear with, “The literacy of area residents is at stake after the recent state budget cut to library funding.” And, well, it is.
But that’s Huff Post territory. Left-wing fear mongering is just as bad as right-wing fear mongering.
Even my original idea, “Pennsylvania libraries could be in trouble,” sounds too fearful.
The point is,
words are powerful. One way says, “I mean, it’s hard, but not that big of a deal.” The other says, “Donate your entire estate to your library or it will fail!” And neither is accurate.
And I can’t help but wonder if all journalists pine over their ledes and angles this much. It’s a tough gig.
I want to accurately portray the feeling of the situation, not downplay it, not sensationalize it.
Still haven’t decided on a lede. You’ll have to check the Patriot-News headlines the next few days to find out where this takes me.