The Beaver County Times: Some Personal Impressions
I should like to share some impressions about this local newspaper, with the first entry being a cut-and-paste from the Sunday, 6/8/2014 Edition, and for the present, without comment:
Commentary by Shane Fitzgerald, Executive Editor of the Times:
“One interesting conversation/debate among the journalists there centered around the pressure to be first with news and how people expect their news right now.”
“I was heartened to hear how so many news organizations have taken a philosophic deep breath and realize that being right is more important than being first. The Internet news age hasn’t fostered that philosophy particularly well. But with the vast number of places people can get their news, above all else they want it to be accurate. Of course we want to be right and be first. But if we have to choose, we’ll take being right every single time.”
Shane Fitzgerald is executive editor of The Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-775-3200 ext. 157.
This second excerpt, from the same Times edition for the same day, presents the editor’s view of addressing political accountability through the news media, again from Mr. Fitzgerald:
“Last weekend, several staff members and I got the honor of receiving our Keystone and Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editor awards in State College. We had a good time being outside the office and celebrating the great work done statewide, much of which centered around holding public officials and entities accountable to voters and taxpayers and from telling great stories in our local communities.”
I direct attention to this clause: “…much of which centered around holding public officials and entities accountable to voters and taxpayers…”
And again, I present this post without comment. But to me, what is being said in these excerpts, and what the Times does, are inconsistent. I hope to address that. Why post these comments here, and not in the Times? I think the answer to that is more than obvious — pre-publication review, possible censorship, and burial in the depths of that online publication. Also, it will be available for all and not only accessible to the paying subscribers of the local Fort Knox of news.
At the most fundamental, most elementary level,a newspaper that publicly comments about a person and then restricts responses from that person to the ability to pay it (for the newspaper), the paper commits a violation of the person’s right to defend himself. That is wrong, and it must change.
I reprint this response to avoid losing it in the Comment section:
Nothing says BCT decline better than the huge headline on today’s paper: “SUE-NAMI”, a reprint from “Inmate known for his torrent of lawsuits targets Michael Ballard mass-murder case”, by Riley Yates, and lifted in its entirety, picture included, from the Morning Call, an Allentown, PA newspaper. The article was cut-and-pasted for the lead-in sentences, then Google Image padded for illustrations. This picking apart of the original Wednesday article by the Times buzzards made no attempt to hide the extraction of the article for personal use and the further fabrication of it from the other paper. But even worse, it is the teaser article to lead into Kristin Doerschner’s trial coverage article which is a very good comprehensive summary of the current homicide trial. Prose’s Christiana article is stuck in the upper corner. Nikki is quite right in referring to this as “yellow journalism.” There could be no better reason to stop subscribing to this rag than this unabashed padding of the news to the exclusion of two quite good articles by its own reporters. It is irrelevant, poorly executed, and an insult to anyone who cares about reading “the news”. It is a shoddy attempt at sensationalism to sucker readers in, and it doesn’t work.
The BCT is absolutely useless now. They should have stood up for Prose when Myron wrote the now famous Dear Monkeyface letter. Instead, they have completely made him into a clue less mess. Taube seemed like he was going to do some good work, but now he is completely off track. Rachael Morgan was doing some decent work, but even she had to back off certain stories regarding the geophysical surveys and admitted to me that she didn’t want to go to far with exposing sources for information because of how litigious they were being with anyone who opposed their agenda. It seems like they fold like a cheap suit when confronted by any controversy. I don’t think they are interested in the news. I think they are interested in serving the moneyed up interests who wish to monopolize on our crooked and broken political system.
Money. The Beaver County Times doesn’t care about its readers, it is looking to turn a profit. Trying to get the attention turned to anything on the subjects of corruption or malfeasance or even starting a public debate is not on their radar at all. I’ve noticed NPR is starting to hear the allure of cash and keeps releasing mysterious and misleading polls about public opinions on unconventional gas drilling. I don’t think this is an isolated situation, it is happening systemically. Just surfing the radio stations for ten minutes is enough to tell you some rather large investments are being made to insure keeping the public misinformed. If Console Energy will invest 7 million into Cyber guard to protect its interests, imagine how much money is being thrown at the media outlets. I don’t watch television mainly because I don’t like being mass marketed to. But many of the people who are sold on all the good jobs coming here are doing the bidding of the people who push this yellow journalism on us.
Today, Sunday July 13, 2014, the Times presented a huge front page picture of George David and the words, “I’M BACK.” Nothing has more confirmed for me the Times’ political backings and catering to local officials than this embarrassingly bold presentation. They are basically backing a criminal, and little mention is made that he avoided prosecution only because of Reasonable Doubt. If this man “loses it” again and hurts someone, I would hope that they would state a retraction, but that will likely not happen. If he does not succeed in his next trial in the Fall, let us hope that this current backing of theirs can be revisited and recognized by the public as real part of the larger problem of corruption in local politics.
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