The front-page article in the Rappahannock News last week [“Candidates tackle issues in 5th District debate,” Oct. 20] did not reflect a high level of journalistic skill or content. In fact, the author’s bias was evident in his first sentence and continued on a downward trajectory as it neared the back page. The article could have been a well-researched source for those not attending the 5th District debate, but it failed.
The first sentence of the article was condescending and implied that a person who “rapid-fires” speech can win a debate. In the author’s words: “If who wins a debate is determined by how many words per minute a candidate speaks, count Tom Garrett Jr. the victor …” The implication is clear.
It was also evident the author did not wish to convey that “Tom Garrett” is “state Sen. Tom Garrett” of Virginia’s 22nd Senate District. To be sure I was not “making a mountain out of a molehill,” I consulted with Robert Hickey, an expert on writing protocol. His response was: “. . . usually journalists’ first reference includes a full description of who a person is, and subsequent references change to something simple, just so the reader knows who is who in the news article.” Despite Ms. Dittmar’s lack of any current title, the author provided her former title even before any mention of Garrett’s position in the Senate was made.
Ms. Dittmar also made this statement regarding Social Security: “We have to make sure it remains solvent.” A note to Ms. Dittmar: Social Security is not currently solvent.