BY DAN VALENTI
(DEC. 23, 2010) — SNOW FELL in the little city of Pittsfield, light and random flakes that danced in the breezy gust. The snow fell without a care, unlike what was happening at 75 South Church Street.
The Boring Broadsheet was in a quandary yesterday. A good friend from the reporting staff told of the editors’ “Five O’Clock Follies.” That’s code for the daily editorial budget meeting, ameeting of the Berkshire Eagle “braintrust” that, we’re told, produces the effects of a frontal-lobe lobotomy. Casper the Friendly Milquetoast, otherwise known as Zeckative Editor Tim Farkas, presided.
An aside: We cant invoke the name of Farkas without thinking of Ralphie in “A Christmas Story.” Scott Farkas is the dorky bully out of whom Ralphie beats the shit. Farkas. Zeckative Editor of the Berkshire Eagle.
Anyway, the Eagle editors had devoted all of the front page to the story to the GD jobs. No, not god damned, but General Dynamics. The Eagle had pulled out the “Second Coming” size typface. They were set to give it the Big Treatment that the Upstairs Guys knew would please their dupes at City Hall.
As it was, the Eagle “reported” in the headline that the move meant 500 new jobs for Pittsfield, half as many as they reported EV Worldwide would bring to Pittsfield (Anyone remember the “1,000 jobs” that never materialized?). THE PLANET, in beating the shit out of the Eagle (yet again) in posting the story, had the more accurate and realistic figure of 150 jobs.
So imagine you’re Mr. Milquetoast. You’re reached your level of incompetency. You know nothing about news. You’ve got orders from the Bosses to play up the GD jobs big. Then the Carriage House at Cranwell has to go burn down. Don’t you hate that when that happens?
What that meant, my good friends, is that Farkas had to drag his carcass up to Rug Row and beg to put in a legitimate news story. It must have been bad, because Farkas was photographed coming out of the Zeckative Suite with wearing kneepads, his face the color of a weathered tombstone.
The Eagle got a brief story (by the talented Jenn Smith) in the paper but some excellent color photos. Naturally, they missed the REAL story of the fire, which THE PLANET got by being on hand in surrogate fashion as a group of volunteer firefighters from a South Berkshire town listened in on a scanner. That story is next.
What Rapid Response?
The Eagle reported that the Lenox Fire Department was at the blaze “in minutes.” Okay, why did THE PLANET hear that the Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) summoned from Cheshire, of all places, and not from a fire department closer to Lenox? THE PLANET also wonders why, if what we heard was true, the Cheshire RIT was told to report first to the Lenox Fire Department next to Town Hall? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose if “rapid response”?
Earlier this year, courtesy of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Department of Homeland Security, all local fire departments were invited to receive specialized training in rapid response. The point is: Many of the local fire departments are now up to speed in RIT. The question becomes, Why was a RIT from Cheshire called and not one closer.
When firemen got there, the building was a goner. It wasn’t for lack of equipment. Why would you need personnel and equipment from virtually every fire department from Clarksburg at the Vermont border down to the Connecticut border? Why all those engines? What did they do with all those people? It’s total overkill.
These are the questions that come to mind for the intelligent reader. These are the questions that will likely be discussed at the next meeting of the county fire chiefs. These are the questions that people are wondering. Alas, these are the questions the Boring Broadsheet won’t think to ask, and if some enterprising writer does think, you can be sure: It will be off with their heads.
This leads us back to the Berkshire Eagle, a newspaper that employs many talented people, many of whom at THE PLANET’s friends. They hold their jobs in fear. The M.O. there is “Be lucky you have a job. Don’t step out of line. We’ll replace you in two seconds.”
This is the outfit, Denver-based Media News Group, that came in one fine day in May, bought the Berkshire Eagle from the Miller, and fired everyone. Workers were told they could re-apply for their jobs. Those that did and were hired back took pay cuts between 10 and 40% and given more work to boot. The situation these last 15 years has only deteriorated. The newsroom is done to just under 30 employees, who are being underutilized and underworked. This is not right.
Most everyone in Berkshire County knows what a joke the Berkshire Eagle has become. They don’t need THE PLANET to tell them that. One does not light a match to see the sun.
MORE LATER. TOMORROW, WE PRESENT THE FIRST OF A TWO-PART SERIES ON THE MAYORAL INTENTIONS OF PITTSFIELD CITY COUNCILOR JOE NICHOLS. NICHOLS SAYS HE’S UTTERLY SERIOUS ABOUT CHALLENGING MAYOR JIMMY RUBERTO, AND HE INTENDS TO RAISE A POTLOAD OF MONEY TO RUN AN ORGANIZED CAMPAIGN.
ALSO, coming soon: THE EXPLOSIVE LETTER SENT on NOV. 29 BY BIG SHOT PITTSFIELD DEMOCRATS TO CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE ANDY NUCIFORO. THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT IT, MUCH LESS BE ABLE TO READ IT. STAY TUNED.