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Many people in Rye– and elsewhere– know about HealTheHarbor Executive Director Ray Tartaglione, known to dress up as a huge human turd and roam Purchase Street, in order to bring attention to his pet peeve, Hen Island.

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When Is a News Channel Not a News Channel?
RYE, NY — March, 2009

 A TV news channel is no longer a bona fide reporter of NEWS once it ceases to cover matters that are news.  A news channel would also be considered as less than credible if it abstained from covering newsworthy events on the say-so of local government officials.

A news channel’s primary responsibility is to report on newsworthy events — regardless of who’s involved in those events and regardless of who might, or might not, prefer that those particular events be covered.

Several months ago, for example, local channel News 12 expressed interest in extending its coverage of health, building and environmental code violations on Rye’s Hen Island.  This added coverage never took place and attempts by environmental watchdog Heal The Harbor to find out why have led, in part, to this conclusion: Coverage of this issue may have been “discouraged” by either Rye City Mayor Steven Otis or Westchester County or both.  Why?

Another newsworthy item, and troubling topic for the Rye City Council is the case of 86-year old Mr. Robert Schubert and his wetlands garden.  For three years Mr. Schubert has been valiantly trying to get the Rye City Council to address and correct the wetlands  errors made by the city. The Rye city manager Paul Shew recently asked the Crisis team from the psychiatric division of the Westchester County Medical Center to evaluate Mr. Schubert allegedly in a effort to stop his complaints.

After reading about the City managers actions in the Newspaper Rye City Naturalist Chantal Detlefs came forward to state with regard to Bob Schubert’s wetland garden, City Manager Paul Shew had things “swept under the carpet

Support for Mr. Schubert, a retired IBM engineer and World War II veteran is becoming widespread.  Outspoken citizens of Rye crowd the city council meetings to speak on his behalf.  His front page plight is covered regularly by The Journal News, and all over the Internet — especially by those concerned about the environment. And yet News 12 has not covered this issue at all.

Does News 12 think its viewers aren’t interested in local environmental issues?  Why?  Whose editorial guidelines are News 12 following with respect to these stories? To what extent might they be influenced by local or county governments? (Westchester County is News 12’s largest advertising account).

As for the city of Rye and the Westchester County Health Department are they afraid their poor decisions with regard to the Hen Island and Schubert issues will bring unwanted public attention?

News 12 Networks is part of Rainbow Media Holdings, Inc., a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corporation. Call Cablevision’s corporate headquarters and ask them about their editorial policies. Call News 12 and ask them about their editorial policies.  Call Westchester County and ask them to comment on health, environment and safety code violations on Hen Island.  Then call the Rye City Mayor’s office and ask why they fear simple investigative reporting about conditions on Hen Island, and Bob Schubert’s wetlands garden.

There is an old adage: Never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel. Despite its implicit warning to avoid antagonizing the media, there are times when certain questions must be raised and answered.  This is one of those times.

News is news!  Selective reporting is infotainment.  And the viewers of Westchester County deserve better.  Everyone benefits from impartial reporting from a free press.

More About Our Mission:
Reduce pollution effluent from Hen Island. Keep the shores of Hen Island clean from trash and floating debris. Ensure that the Hen Island Board of Directors and individual cottage owners, take responsibility for past actions and create a new environmentally friendly and safe atmosphere in Milton Harbor. Require politicians, commissioners, and municipal employees to hold Hen Island (Kuder Island Colony Inc.) and its cottage owners to the same health, safety and building codes as every other community in Westchester County.


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