Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wasilla observer of Palin is a citizen journalist; local weekly posts e-mail interview with governor

Felix Frankfurter, a great Supreme Court justice of the mid-20th Century, liked to say that "In a democracy, the highest office is the office of citizen." Today, technology has created the term "citizen journalist," bringing back the full promise of the First Amendment, allowing every American to exercise journalistic rights like the pamphleteers of old. Sometimes people become citizen journalists without intending to.

That includes Anne Kilkenny of Wasilla, Alaska, "the woman behind the infamous e-mail that aired criticisms of Sarah Palin to millions across the cyber-globe," as she is described by Erika Hayasaki ofthe Los Angeles Times. Kilkenny's story of doggedly attending Wasilla City Council meetings has been told many times, but Hayasaki's story reveals more of a journalistic role: "Nick Carney, who served on the council then, remembers there were times when no one showed up to watch, 'not even the guy from the newspaper.' Sometimes Kilkenny was the only one."

The local paper, the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, published an e-mail interview with Palin today, in which the second question was what successes and mistakes she had as a council member and mayor. Palin cited her "tax cuts and strategy for growth," and "underestimating how much opposition you face as a real reformer." (Read more)

Hayasaki writes, "Judy Patrick, who served as deputy mayor for four years, is upset that the Internet and media have turned Kilkenny into a Palin expert. 'Anne Kilkenny, the nut case?' Patrick said. 'I mean she came to every single one of our council meetings but was she ever elected? No.' To others, Kilkenny 'is like the watchdog of the council,' Carney said. 'She came to the meetings and made sure we were dotting our I's and crossing our Ts.' 'Anne looked at things logically,' said Darlene Langill, a former City Council member."

Kilkenny wrote the e-mail to 40 friends and asked them not to put it on the Internet, but that was a futile request. She told Hayasaki that she would do it all over again: "I continue to believe that it's important for people to participate as informed voters, and there is a moral obligation to share what we know about the people that are running for office." Sounds like a citizen journalist to us. (Read more)

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