New Jersey Paper Accepting City Money to Report 'Positive News'

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by GotZoom, Oct 26, 2005.

  1. GotZoom
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    GotZoom Senior Member

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    I like the idea...but...City money? And it the contract for the paper was a awarded without competitive bidding. Something stinky........
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    Published: October 24, 2005 10:48 AM ET

    NEW YORK A start-up newspaper called the Newark (N.J.) Weekly News has signed a one-year, $100,000 contract with the Newark city council to publish "positive news" about the city, according to a report in Monday's Star-Ledger.

    Newark Weekly News owner and editor Howard Scott explained argued in the Star-Ledger that the arrangement is similar to the way large newspapers are paid to print the legal advertisements that municipalities are required by law to publish.

    "'Do we have critical reporters on staff? No. Do we have investigative reporters? No,'" Scott told the Star-Ledger. "'Our niche is the good stuff. People have come to know it and they love it.'"

    But the arrangement has raised the ire of media watchdogs. Roy Clark, a senior scholar at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, told the Star-Ledger, "If you are publishing government propaganda in the guise of neutral, detached reporting, that's about as unethical as you can get short of putting a hit out on somebody."

    The move comes at a time when the media is under increased scrutiny for accepting government money and government-produced video news releases. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office released a report in October accusing the Bush administration of violating laws prohibiting the use of covert propaganda. At issue were secret payments to conservative broadcaster/columnist Armstrong Williams, who was hired to promote the Bush administration's education policies.

    Williams failed to disclose he was on the government's payroll, and is reportedly in negotiations to return a portion of the $240,000 he received from the U.S. Department of Education because he didn't fulfill part of the contract requiring him to promote the No Child Left Behind Act.

    According to the Star-Ledger's report, written by Jeffery C. Mays, Scott, pitched his good-news contract proposal to the city on Oct. 12.

    "We have found oodles and oodles of positive news not identified by your paper of record, The Star Liar, I mean Star-Ledger," Scott said during his pitch.

    According to the contract, Legacy Media Group, which owns Newark Weekly, will work with the city's public information office to publicize "positive aspects of the city, as may be requested by the Office of the Mayor or the Municipal Council."

    The Star-Ledger reports that Newark Weekly must "generate stories based on leads from (the) Municipal Council and Administration, namely Donna Purnell (the city's acting communications manager and James' spokeswoman) and Brenda Jones (a communications staffer), which will run in Visions Metro Weekly/Newark Weekly news for distribution to the community."

    The contract was awarded without competitive bidding.

    http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001350333
     
  2. Avatar4321
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    Avatar4321 Diamond Member Gold Supporting Member

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    I would say this is likely going to create some first amendment problems.
     
  3. Hagbard Celine
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    Hagbard Celine Senior Member

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    I think people too readily forget that papers and other news outlets are businesses before they are "beacons of truth protecting the public." My ethics professor put it like this, "If a paper fails to make profits by luring readers for advertisers, then it cannot afford to shine the light of journalism in those dark corners of society." In other words, "if it bleeds, it leads." Newspapers have to report bad news because bad news sells and good news doesn't. Nobody really wants to hear about the "good news" anyway. Newspapers are supposed to be watchdogs to keep society informed about things that need fixing. There's no way granny's apple pie contest would make it into the paper if there had been a triple homicide the night before.

    Plus, who wants to read government propaganda? You'd think something like this would set off alarms with oldies who remember coldwar Russia and Nazi Germany. Anybody ever read Fahrenheit 451?

    I doubt this "good news" positive advertisement paid for by the city will last for very long.
     
  4. William Joyce
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    William Joyce Chemotherapy for PC

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    Like they say, news is what people DON'T want you to know. Everything else is advertising.
     
  5. Johnney
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    Johnney Senior Member

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    it could be a positive thing. they would just have to get anothe paper for the regular slash, stab, rob, rape etc. that goes on
     

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