EDITOR'S NOTE: The News Daily stands by its story.
To the editor:
It was an amazing, although disappointing, experience for me when I read the series of articles that appeared in the News Daily about the Youth Empowerment Project Inc. and its executive director, Dr. Glenn Dowell. I used the word "amazing" because I could barely believe the level of attention that the News Daily gave to what I considered to be a "non-story." In view of all of the egregious situations that are manifesting themselves in the governmental operations in Clayton County, your negative emphasis on the Youth Empowerment Project Inc. seemed inappropriate and mean-spirited.
When the first article appeared in your paper, I remember thinking that it must have been "a slow news day in Clayton County" for such an article would not have run in any major newspaper in any other major city. Although your research revealed that neither the agency nor Dr. Dowell had engaged in criminal activity, your article was negatively biased and seemed to purposefully and deliberately malign both Dr. Dowell and the Youth Empowerment Project Inc.
When the second article appeared, I was convinced that you, as editor-in-chief, had abandoned all professionalism and objective journalistic practices and endeavored to engage in personal attacks against Dr. Dowell, including making emotionally charged insinuations regarding his daughter's involvement in the agency. In retrospect, both articles seemed to indicate the unfolding of a personal vendetta...a dynamic that should have no place in legitimate journalism.
Now, let me tell you why I have felt compelled to write this letter to you.
I have been invested in what happens in Clayton County since 1996, at which time I was appointed to serve as interim County Director of the Department of Family and Children Services, immediately preceding the appointment of its current director. In that capacity, I had the fortunate experience of getting to know many of the county's leaders, and I formed lasting relationships with some of them. Dr. Glenn Dowell was one of those persons. From the time that I met him, until present, I have been moved by his commitment to address the negative social variables that impact the lives of so many of the county's youth, such as drugs, crime, and violence. His dedication and commitment influenced me to abandon my retirement status, so that I could assist him in his efforts, by lending my administrative expertise to his agency.
The Youth Empowerment Project is unique in Clayton County; it provides a continuum of services that are offered by no other nonprofit agency in the county. It seems reasonable to me that your newspaper should give space to commending Dr. Dowell and the Youth Empowerment Project Inc. for their contributions to the Clayton County community, instead of casting aspersions against them.
In my role as a public servant in the governmental arena in Georgia (State Director of the Economic Assistance Programs, Department of Human Resources, Division of Family and Children Services; Economic Assistance Program Director, Richmond County; Interim County Director, Clayton County; 9-year Deputy Director, DeKalb County), and in my multiple roles as a civic and community leader (Chairperson, Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Task Force, DeKalb County; President, Stone Mountain/Lithonia Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority; Board Member, Southeastern Synod of the Evangelical Church in America; Immediate Past President and Assisting Minister of St. Stephan Lutheran Church), I have witnessed, and have fully understood, how various political factions will engage in healthy debates about issues that they perceive to be important, and on which they do not always agree. However, I rarely have witnessed the Fourth Estate using its influence to "manufacture" an issue for debate, and try to inflame the community regarding that issue, when the general community clearly has no interest in it.
I submit that the Clayton News Daily has engaged in such behavior. I further submit that the Clayton News Daily owes an apology for such behavior to the Youth Empowerment Project Inc. to Dr. Glenn Dowell, and to the News Daily's subscribers. Such behavior is a travesty and it should not repeat itself.
I have no doubt that many of your subscribers will agree with my position. Are you willing to find out? We will see.
Alfra Dean Fisher