Dancing with the stars

EDITOR: It has been disheartening to observe all the rhetoric and propaganda influencing the minds of Americans who are truly concerned about the future of the country. Unfortunately free speech has become corporate speech, because advertisers control the content of the news. Without a neutral news outlet, our democracy is flooded with lies. Originally in the 1930's, the FCC was designed to provide news information to the public, but political pressure from the corporate world prevailed and Congress gave in. Advertisers could purchase time during a news cast, influencing the content of the program. What happened to radio, happened to television and now the Internet. We live in a thoroughly commercialized environment with propaganda at the center.

How do we get the best news possible with content defined by facts? Are there really two sides to a story, or are there more? Does the information presented make us feel sorry for the corporation? What news is not being covered and why? The news business works for advertisers. News is now entertainment. News programs that are flashy with colorful graphics want you for their audience. A cable news anchor is in the same business as Dancing with the Stars. So the voices of truth are small. Nothing is more important to a democracy than a well informed public. We need informed opinions, not hype or innuendo.

So what is the result of this manipulation? People vote against their own interest. For example," Why would you vote for candidates who want to dismantle Social Security?" When examining the actions of Congress, we need to ask "Whose financial interests are you advancing with this bill?" We need to take responsibility and ask the questions, not shout the propaganda we have heard or read from the pundits whose multi million dollar salaries are made possible by corporate advertisers. If these people can play into your fear, then they manipulate and shut you down from using your own mind. Our country is more polarized than anytime since the Civil War. Discussing our country's problems and working together to find common ground is who we are. If every issue is framed to keep us angry at each other, then we will not work together. We need to reclaim journalism. Real debate, not name calling is worthy of our great nation. The news should be the public trust to influence not control the American conversation.

I don't believe truth lies in the middle; I believe facts are the center. I have been dismayed by the distortion of facts, so we the American people won't make decisions that work for America. Making decisions based on fear clouds the issue. Bullies attack anyone who disagrees with them. Propaganda is designed to stop conversation and name callers do just that. I find fear tactics blinding and stifling to free speech. My hope is that you take the time to be skeptical, to question and to use PBS and NPR as sources of news. Those news sources of course have been described to some of you negatively. Have you questioned why? Will you now? What news is being presented? How is it framed? Is propaganda being used to influence you? Are you voting this election based on facts or propaganda? I don't want trickle down journalism to touch the soul of democracy. We can do better.

Pamela Meyer

Towanda

Cemetery needs care

EDITOR: I am writing in response to the recent "Our Opinion" article on Oak Hill Cemetery. Indeed, it is (or was) a beautiful piece of property. My family is interred at Oak Hill so I visit frequently and I previously served on the board of directors for three years.

For those families who visit the cemetery, they can attest to the lack of grounds keeping is not new, but has been an ongoing issue for several years now. The high grass, weeds, tree droppings, grass and mower damage to headstones is appalling and certainly offers no encouragement for those looking for new plots to consider Oak Hill Cemetery. Complaints to board members regarding the appearance of the cemetery as well as the house at entrance (which is owned by the cemetery association) have been ongoing, but no action seems to be taken.

The cemetery association currently has a large 6-figure trust fund at Citizens Bank in Towanda. The trust currently is such that no money can be used for the perpetual care of the cemetery; this includes any interest or income earned on the trust each year. The cemetery association contracts the mowing and weed care of the cemetery and the cost of that service was $12,000 for the period of June 2011 through June 2012. It is apparent the person contracted to perform these services has no regard for the cemetery or any of the families that have loved ones laid to rest there. Your article commented the cemetery is in need of a "good cleaning." It goes without saying if the lawn care was being done as needed and paid for, the degree of cleaning would be much less. So to say the cemetery is maintained by volunteers is a stretch (the board of directors are volunteers), but there is and has been a paid lawn care service.

For those of you who are tired of the appearance of the cemetery, please consider attending the annual meeting (third Tuesday of June) to express your concerns or even better, run for a position on the board of directors.

I encourage The Daily Review to do a feature article on the cemetery which might give the history of the cemetery, current financial status, types of expenses incurred and income sources. The interest of the community was peaked by your "Our Opinion" column! I agree and fully support encouraging youth organizations and students to take an interest in volunteering in our community; but in this case, there are many other underlying issues which need to be addressed beyond volunteerism of our youth!

Sharon Maynard

Towanda