I would like to take the Tidings to task for easy, simplistic and biased reporting in the prolonged story of Shakespeare Books and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The paper has reported the story as one of “David and Goliath” from the beginning. This framing of the story set up a “good guy vs. bad guy” or “good sincere small business (the book store) vs. large heartless business (OSF)” scenario from the beginning.
Not only is this frame inaccurate, it does not help anyone to enlarge their understanding. Rather it promotes and then inflames hurt and anger day after day. Readers’ sympathies go in multiple directions as the paper continues to report pain and outrage and very few facts to help illuminate the situation.
In this case, the Tidings appears to be producing one of the biggest melodramas in town this season. I am reminded of the newspaper man William Randolph Hearst who sent Frederick Remington to make pictures of the Cuba situation in the time before the Spanish American War. When Remington cabled to say there was no war, Hearst cabled back “You furnish the pictures, I’ll furnish the war.” The “war” that the Tidings is furnishing now has lots of members of our community up in arms and greatly concerned.
Today, we are rediscovering that a continuing part of our national history is that of oppression of the many by the few. Ignoring the racial aspect of this story and refocusing on the hurt of miscommunication does a disservice to our struggle to understand unexamined racism by our culture as a whole. Daily we all operate on ideas that perpetuate the same outcomes when there is not room to notice culturally embodied racism.
That opportunity for insight was missed here by the choice the Tidings made to focus on and inflame misunderstandings between two parties who were probably hoping to do the best they could here at the beginning of renewed awareness of the need for cultural redress in Ashland and in America at large.
Tidings, remember your potential position of leadership and illumination. We need a press that will ask big and hard questions without drawing conclusions for us.