This is an op-ed written by Trumansburg resident Brian Liberatore. It was not written by The Ithaca Voice. To submit editorials, please send them to Matt Butler at

Ithaca’s pending ethics investigation is important. But not for the obvious reason – it’s a sad excuse for a scandal.

It’s important because as a reader of the Ithaca Voice I know about it. I have a clear, non-sensationalized picture of what happened. That is critical.

Thoughtful reporting is rare in a media landscape polluted with clickbait and falsehoods. Sensationalized soundbites are destabilizing the country, and outlets like the Voice are our best defense against them.

The ethics investigation is a great example of why that’s important. Without the Voice, I may have heard only that there is an investigation. It would be easy to fill in the blanks with scandal-worthy details and cue the indignation. With the Voice I have the context and the details. I see an administration’s good intentions and sloppy delivery. (“Sloppily delivered good intentions” describes a fair number of government efforts.)  A complete picture takes more than a handful of characters to convey. It takes good reporting.

Quality local media is not guaranteed. The local papers that served us for a century are gone – sold off to private equity firms, stripped to the bone, and written off. The last few decades have been a dark time for news. Important local issues now go unreported to the detriment of accountability.

Social media made it worse. Endless feeds deliver snippets tailored to boil our blood and keep us sharing, liking, yelling, screaming, and glued to our phones as our lives and country slip away. Facebook’s algorithm is as much to blame for the state of American politics as anything. And despite Elon Musk’s rants, Twitter is not a community platform. It’s a rickety soapbox for self-righteous drivel.

Yet there are a few shoots of hope springing from the rubble of American media. The two most trusted media outlets serving Tompkins County — FingerLakes1 and the Ithaca Voice — didn’t exist a few decades ago. They grew to fill a gap in our lives and in our democracy. They are what good journalism looks like now. Let’s not take them for granted.