Tag Archive: Journalism

PolitickerNJ has No Bias At All

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Folks over at PolitickerNJ have regularly denied having a political bias, and they may not be aware of it.  However, often it is quite clear.  Here’s a wonderful example.

A Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind poll asked both Democrats and Republicans what they thought of potential Democratic and Republican wannabes for Governor:  

Quote of the Day: a “fight for the soul of news gathering”

This morning, as the drama went down in Philadelphia – which made national news – we were both tracking the blow-by-blow via reporter tweets, and emailing/texting with friends of Blue Jersey’s in the Inky newsroom, where distrust of the Norcross ownership went deep among journalists and created a challenge to editorial independence and the ability of their newsroom to function well. I pointed out that Norcross made a killing on the papers, which I bet stung the flailing Star-Ledger and challenges the idea of Norcross as the “loser” today. This is how one of our friends at the Inky responded:

Yes Norcross won $27 million but we’re rid of him. This was a fight for the soul of news gathering in this region. Our editorial talked today talked about how we could not endorse in one of the NJ House races because of our conflict of interest with Norcross’s brother being a candidate. The Inquirer is the largest circulating paper in South Jersey and we couldn’t weigh in on an important House race involving the brother of a boss who was given the seat as if we are no longer living in a democracy. I am ashamed of that. Ignoring the news is just as bad as slanting it. So if $27 million bought these over-worked, highly-committed people here their freedom, it was worth it.

                         – one of our sources in the Inky newsroom, today

This was the editorial today our friend meant, in which the paper failed to take a public position in CD1, where South Jersey Dems under big bro George rushed to endorse little bro Don even as Rob Andrews was speaking the words of his resignation from Congress. But the paper had to ignore that that happened, at least up front. Because that’s the way it goes down there, and the same guy running the politics and owning the means of communication was always a potential problem. The paper’s problems aren’t over, but we’ve got some journalist friends celebrating tonight. Here’s to them.

Photo: New owners Katz & Lenfest talk to staff just after the sale, by Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Angelo Fichera via Twitter.

Philadelphia Magazine reporting George Norcross is now majority owner of Inquirer & media holdings

Steve Volk of Philadelphia Magazine is reporting that George Norcross is now the majority owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com, which is already managed by his 25-year-old daughter Lexie Norcross. Volk reports that the South Jersey Democratic boss has bought out the shares of fellow owner Kris Singh, and that a formal announcement is expected later today. The purchase effectively doubles Norcross’ holdings, and is a major development in the ongoing battle between Norcross and fellow owner Lewis Katz, that went public weeks ago when Katz sued Norcross over the firing of editor Bill Marimow. Marimow was reinstated in late November by a Philadelphia judge.

This is a developing story.  

ICYMI: Ed Schultz on Chris Christie: Red Wolf in Blue Clothing w/Video

It’s interesting to watch how Chris Christie is served up to the national voting public. Until fairly recently almost all of the national coverage followed the pattern set by NJ political reporters; celebritizing the guy. Bombast. Moxie. Jersey-guy. Springsteen fan. “Truth-teller.” Even when he used his bully pulpit to insult people who dared to disagree with him out loud – a right-wing radio host trick to overpower with the microphone – he got away with it with the public, aided by appearances on the public dime pre-stuffed with adoring followers to grand star turns complete with video, stirring music, planted fans, and reporters following Christie with the same attention you give to ticking time bombs whose explosions are entertaining fodder and good vid for the 24-hour news cycle. Not to mention Stronger than the Storm ads promoting himself over the stories of those actually still struggling after Sandy.

That all will change as Christie looks – and governs – past New Jersey toward a less-boffo shot at the 2016 White House.

Ed Schultz, a bit of a flamethrower himself (but for the forces of good) gives a little preview of what national reporters will have to work with on Christie. Below the fold, here’s last night’s The Ed Show:

QoTD: Star-Ledger Gets It Right

Screen shot 2013-06-13 NJ.com headline

Today’s Quote of the Day comes in two parts; the headline above, and the quote from the tail end of the highly-suggested piece by the Ledger’s Editorial Board, which nails it 100%:

The point is that guys like DiVincenzo and Stack don’t give a damn about grand causes. They think about state aid, and they think about hedging their bets. If Attila the Hun were favored to win in November, they might endorse him as well.

And if that means a single mom who can’t pay her rent because she works a lousy job for minimum wage must be thrown overboard, then that’s the way it goes.

The polite term for guys like these is “transactional politician.” They are guided by a simple calculation of benefits they provide against benefits they receive.

The impolite term for them is much shorter.

Gannett Uses Republican Frame

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So, when a state employee who is also a Democratic Mayor endorses the Republican Governor, this is the headline:

Manville’s Democrat mayor endorses Christie during campaign visit to local diner

Yes, Democrat (sic) mayor.  Not state employee.  Not Democratic Mayor.  



Open Letter to NJ Newspaper Editors & NJ Journalism Classes

This has nothing to do with New Jersey, except that what happened in Ohio today could happen here any day. And when it happens, how do we tell it? This is for the editors, reporters, and online content directors of Star-Ledger, The Record, APP and all the Gannetts, and all the dailies and weeklies in NJ. And for every college journalism program:

Editors: You should have on speed dial the contact info of a variety of people of different backgrounds and experience. And you should take those calls when they come to your desk. This isn’t about “political correctness”. It’s about basic respect. It’s about treating people – even in death – as people, and not as weirdos.

Today’s headline in the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Oddly dressed body found in Olmsted Township pond identified

Here is how a young trans woman I know took note of the article on Facebook (edit of the curse word, mine):

And yet again, the media f***s up reporting a trans murder victim. Rest in Peace, Ms. Acoff (I don’t know what your preferred name is).

“Rest in Peace, Ms.Acoff (I don’t know what your preferred name is).” I wouldn’t expect most of us to show the class, and the sensitivity, of the remark above. Editors, included. And I’m aware that journalism requires its practitioners to be careful drawing conclusions. But the body found submerged in that Ohio pond was not “oddly dressed” if you have some understanding of the lives of trans women and trans men – and what apparel and outward appearance can mean in their lives. This is very likely a trans woman who was stabbed, tied to a concrete sinker and dumped into the water. The newspaper is clearly aware of this; it notes she ID’d herself to officials as a woman, and there’s a photo of her in a long, pink wig. I believe – maybe you don’t – that identifying the victim both as a self-identified woman and also as “Carl” is in-bounds, and fair. But the full impact of this post in Cleveland’s paper of record is dehumanizing and contributes to the climate of misunderstanding, fear and hatred that may have put Acoff at risk in the first place, may even have contributed to her murder. The Cleveland Plain Dealer should apologize. And the rest of us should learn from it.

Here is how the film Transamerica is dedicated:

For all people of trans experience. For all people of any experience.

Get it?  

Shield Law Upheld For Blogger, But I’m Still Confused

MediaBob wants to know what you think of this, Blue Jersey. Promoted by Rosi.

OK, I like the New Jersey shield law, and that it protects bloggers.  But I’m not sure I get the recent decision about Tina Renna, an activist blogger in Union County who runs The County Watchers blog.  She writes (and states in court documents) that she has 16 names of county employees who used county generators for personal or unapproved purposes after Hurricane Sandy.

Prosecutor Ted Romankow subpoenaed Renna for the names of those 16 people because misusing public resources is a crime.  But Renna fought the subpoena by saying the names would reveal her source.  I can see that.  

But here’s where I get confused. Apparently Renna as a blogger is shielded by the law because:

Judge Karen Cassidy … said Renna “obtained material in the course of professional newsgathering activities” with the aim of disseminating it over the internet. (sic)

But Renna didn’t disseminate the information on the Internet, and is trying to keep it secret. She is, instead, in court trying to keep the information private.  

I’m torn.  Renna is an activist as well as a blogger/reporter, and she definitely has it in for the Union County government and it’s leaders.  I don’t have a problem with that, obviously, since Blue Jersey is similar.  But Renna made an allegation of malfeasance and crime by people holding public jobs, and to me this seems like wanting to have it both ways: 1) she gets to hurt the folks she’s working against with an allegation; but 2) doesn’t actually have to back up the allegation.  

So what do you think, Blue Jersey?  Does this meet what you think the measure should be for shielding reporters?  Not what the law says (though any lawyers who want to weigh in on that, come on!), but what you think would be the proper use of a shield law in this case.

And some snark below the fold.

Inky Bias?

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Front page story in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Menendez bill could have aided top donor” (66 column-inches) – emphasis mine

Another story, inside, on page 7:

“Escort recants her Menendez allegation” (12 column-inches)

Bias? Or is this just “if it bleeds, it leads?”

Press of Atlantic City is put up for sale

First its online content went behind a paywall – the first NJ newspaper to implement a digital paywall – in late 2011. And now the parent company of Press of Atlantic City, fourth-largest daily newspaper in New Jersey, has just  put the paper up for sale.

Among the papers Press of Atlantic City has had to compete with for South Jersey readership are Philadelphia Inquirer (owned by a group led by South Jersey powerbroker George Norcross), the Asbury Park Press,Courier-Post and the Vineland Daily Journal.

This may represent great change in the work lives of many good journalists and other employees. And it’s impossible not to grieve as yet another daily newspaper is in jeopardy.

In June, 2012, Press of Atlantic City put out a release with audit bureau figures showing the paper’s circulation was the only one of 16 dailies in New Jersey to show positive circulation growth over the two reporting periods covering October 2011 to March 2012, and more than 4 million page views of its on line editions, with half a million unique visitors.

The paper, which lists a daily circulation of just 70,000 (85,000 for Sunday edition) has published since 1895 under several names and owners. Current owner is a Pittsburgh-based holding company, ABARTA, Inc.. In an announcement posted on line at its site, the company’s president & CEO John F. Bitaer III said, “ABARTA’s investment priorities have always emphasized growth.” Family members have owned the paper for 60 years, Bitzer said, with four generations working in the business over that time. The company also has holdings in beverages, frozen food, energy, and technology. ABARTA owns The Press Media Group.