Sunday, February 21, 2010

NWA Times editorialist opines on CAT fight

Glad CAT Fight Is Over

Friday, February 19, 2010

We know of no better example of the old political adage of “the smaller the pie, the bigger the fight” than the recent fuss out of Community Access Television in Fayetteville.

The question we take up today is not whether or how the cable franchise fee-funded group can get past its personnel problems and run smoothly. No, our topic is whether the city should continue to give $93,000 a year to the venture.

We’re going to follow our own advice here and ignore the personality clashes that led to the resignation of the longtime CAT manager on Thursday. What reallymatters is whether cable subscribers can reliably turn on their TVs and see content of public interest. A close second is providing a resource and an outlet to people interested in producing video.

As long as those goals are met, we really don’t care who runs the show, what noises they make or how happy they are. Believe us: If everything had to wait until peace and harmony broke out, no newspaper would ever get published.

We’re encouraged by the selection of production coordinator Mark Warren for the post of interim manager. We understand the concerns of Dedra Leaf, the board president. “My only concern with you, Mark, is who’s going to do your job?”

Leaf asked during the meeting to choose an interim manager. However, some continuity is exactly what CAT needs right now. Promoting a staff member helps quell the allegation that the board wanted to micromanage the station.

The personnel committee intends to spend the next several weeks fleshing out what exactly it wants in a manager and reviewing resumes. We’re very encouraged by Leaf’s remark that the personnel committee needs to meet every week: “We have that much work to do.”

Yes, they do. If and when the public is not served, the city needs to find some other entity to run things or save $93,000 a year - even if things settle down and everything becomes peachy and blissful within the station itself.

The recent hyperbole needs to stop. One producer recently went so far as to tell a city board things would not run smoothly if the manager resigned. One board member alleges to have been the subject of personal threats and harassment.

Drop it and behave, folks. Pick a new manager, get your three new board members up to speed and put this squabbling behind you - for as long as you can, at least.

Perhaps the best summary of the whole situation comes from Katherine Shurlds, a journalism instructor at the University of Arkansas who was once a station manager at CAT: “I really want people to support it.

Even though it is a pain in the ass.”

Good luck with that. It should be entertaining.

Opinion, Pages 5 on 02/19/2010

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