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Joel Saxe: Defends fired Easthampton Media executive director

  • jacoblund


Thursday, June 07, 2018
Defends fired director for Easthampton Media

The choice by the Daily Hampshire Gazette and MassLive to run stories about a police investigation of ousted Easthampton Media director Kathy Lynch is deeply troubling (“Police probed alleged threats,” May 19-20).

A sensationalist framing of the issue with a microfocus on an exasperated utterance — “I could kill someone” — neglected to note that police concluded a lack of any real threat. Nor did either media platform explore the root causes of the conflict.

Contrary to the principle of journalistic objectivity, the reports on Lynch’s firing display “systemic bias.” Voices of authority are privileged. Most quoted are “officials” under whom Lynch worked. Disproportionate negative statements construct strong prejudice against a quasi-public employee who spoke out about conditions she found oppressive.

There is no discussion of the long-term context for Lynch’s utterances of pent-up frustration. Her feelings of being routinely disrespected and unappreciated by school administrators, whom she has tirelessly served over many years, stand in contrast to Lynch’s strong support of school fundraising efforts, curriculum tech and initiatives to create authentic civic engagement and bipartisan dialogue through community media. As a woman of color, Lynch also has questioned what she perceives as racial prejudice in how she’s been treated.

If the inquiry sought out all sides of the story, a markedly different narrative would have emerged: be it racism, sexism, administrative-autocratic incompetence, lack of transparency, self-serving laziness, willful ignorance, or disrespect.

When Lynch is at wit’s end, perhaps her only fault is at times being blunt in her words, directly naming and calling out inequities that most of us prefer not to see, much less raise a word.

Lynch is the only woman community media access director in western Massachusetts. Instead of perpetuating the mythology of a hysterical woman who cracks under the intense expectations of juggling work and family, these news outlets need to fully investigate the conditions that contributed to her intense frustrations.

And please chronicle the remarkable contributions Lynch has made to Easthampton and wider public access media, arts and civil society communities. Then, let’s lobby for her to get her job back.

Joel Saxe

Northampton

The writer is a lecturer in the Department of Communication at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and produces “Bread and Roses” on Valley Free Radio.