Mr. Smith should read his own paper

Posted: Monday, November 05, 2001

I was disappointed by Mr. Smith's editorial on Sunday. Discussing the tourism poll that is in progress in Juneau, Mr. Smith wrote: "The results of the first online tourism poll are in and the good news is that there appears to be common ground for Juneau's tourism economy to work socially and environmentally." I believe the first step toward solving a problem is to recognize that there is indeed a problem that needs to be solved.

Mr. Smith summarized the poll's results on the divisive issue of helicopter noise as follows: "On the question 'Does Helicopter flightseeing noise bother you personally,' 20 percent of respondents indicated that they were bothered very much, with 80 percent responding that they were bothered occasionally, somewhat or not at all." And so we are led to believe that helicopter noise is not a problem for the vast majority of our community.

Take a look, however, at the Empire's front-page article on the poll in Friday's paper. The article was entitled "Tourism poll finds split opinions, common ground." Addressing the question of helicopter noise, the article stated: "In response to a question about helicopter noise, 41 percent of respondents said it bothers them 'very much' or 'occasionally,' 15 percent said 'somewhat,' and 44 percent answered 'not at all.' " This presentation of the same figures makes it much more apparent that helicopter noise is an issue in Juneau.

Mr. Smith's characterization reminds me of a story my dad enjoyed telling while I was growing up. During the Cold War, there was a sports competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. Those two countries were the only competitors. The Soviet Union won. Looking for the positive spin on the story, a U.S. newspaper reported the results as follows: "United States comes in second in race; Soviet Union placed next to last."

Accurate? Technically ... yes. Honest? Perhaps not.

We do have a problem with helicopter noise in Juneau. The good news is that if we recognize it we can work together to solve it.

Margot Knuth


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