THE INTERESTING TRIBUTARIES OF ‘WADEGATE’ … THE MEDIA ANGLE … THE PUBLIC SERVICE ANGLE … NAACP CURIOUSLY QUIET ABOUT BACKING WADE … plus … STORMWATCHERS GOT WHAT THEY WANTED
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, JUNE 4, 2013) — Wadegate, the racially sensitive and explosive “she-said/he-said” involving black Medford businesswoman Doreen Wade and Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi has still many unexplored subthemes.
First, however, let’s clear the air on one thing: THE PLANET does not for one second think Dan Bianchi is a “racist.” That’s not been our experience with him, one that goes back a long ways. True, we have never seen Bianchi interact privately with the black community. We have seen him publicly and in a campaign mode. In our private and public dealings with Dan Bianchi, we have found him to be invariably appropriate, honorable, and gentlemanly. We consider him a friend, though as we have seen, friendship cannot be allowed to dictate our coverage. It never has, and it never will. A businesswoman of color made a serious charge. We went with it, and we were right in that call.
Unless we see hard evidence to the contrary, we will take Wade’s claims as evidence not of “racism” on the mayor’s part but misunderstandings in their communication. We would ask Wade if she intends to step forward, publicly, and repeat these charges, offering more than an allegation.
We also wonder if the local NAACP will stand with Wade in full support of her claims. Up to now, the NAACP, through director Will Singleton, has been extremely cautious and guarded in its comments. It hasn’t supported Wade, nor has it disowned her comments and contentions. THE NAACP has not a word of Wadegate on its FB page. It has not issued a public statement since we have brought attention to the case. The silence is hard on the ears. THE PLANET asks: Will Singleton be willing to appear, with or without Wade, before the press and support or condemn what she is saying?
Until then, benefit of the doubt shifts back to Mayor Bianchi.
THE MEDIA ANGLE
One of the more interesting tributaries to this story is the matter of a free and functioning press. Wade operates The New England Informer, a web-based newsmagazine that describes itself this way: “NEI disseminates thought-provoking and high-quality information. It prides itself as a constant resource offering up-to-date information and current articles.” Its “mission is to disseminate information to empower Black Americans while building partnerships between African American/Latin American and non communities of color.” The first blurb stands out for its vagueness. What exactly does it mean? The second practically hangs a sign saying, “Whites need not apply.”
The Informer appears to have relatively little fresh content. Instead, it acts more as a reprint service for articles it sees as relevant to its mission. Without looking for them, we did notice many typos, grammatical errors, and other indications of haste and the abusive bending of the king’s English that would offer counter evidence to its claim of “high quality.” Much of the house writing is poor.
As for typos and some grammar issues, THE PLANET knows all too well, as do our loyal readers, how these “weeds” can pop up in the garden of prose, particularly in a daily blog. We wage this daily (and largely winning) fight, aiming for Don Larsen perfection each and every time out, full knowing we can’t get it and that, with the final pitch, Yogi Berra likely won’t be leaping into our arms as Dale Mitchell walks from the batter’s box, having just taken a called third strike. But then again, we are a one-man band (or as Berkshire Magazine calls us, “a one-man mob scene”).
THE PLANET doesn’t list an art editor, a promotion manager, an editor, an associate editor, a sales manager, an assistant to the publisher, and a publisher in addition to ourselves, as Wade does on the mast of the Informer. With all those sets of eyes, no one caught, for example, the loud typo in the headline congratulating Wade on her nomination as SBA Person of the Year (more on that claim later): “… From The Samll [sic] Business Administration.”
We also point out that we are writing anywhere between 1,000 and 3,000 words of fresh original content almost every day, a furious pace of that caused Berkshire Magazine to call us “Berkshire County’s most prolific journalist.” The Informer shows nothing close to this original, daily output.
Media Fear? We Doubt It
The theory has been floated that perhaps the mayor doesn’t want another media outlet operating in town. THE PLANET can’t answer to that, but, however sensitive Bianchi has proven when it comes to tough, independent coverage, we find it a stretch to think that he would be threatened by Wade’s news product. It’s difficult to assess, since we haven’t seen how or if she would change her editorial focus if her business moved to Pittsfield. Judging by the current Informer product, Bianchi would have little to fear. The politics seem compatible with liberal bias, up to and including the Far Left. As a political bent, it would find a cozy home within the Democratic power structure that rules Pittsfield.
True, we often laugh at the kid-glove treatment public officials receive in the Berkshires. Say one little “boo!,” and the next thing you know, your subject is off in a corner, pouting, and saying the nastiest things about you. If they got a tiny taste of what happens in the bigger media, on bigger stages, they’d come out of their coffins, offer an ink libation to the ghost of Horace Greeley, and learn to engage more productivity with the press, especially the independent press.
THE PLANET doesn’t know anything about Wade’s business model. As we noted above, she lists a sales director on the staff. She has internships available in editorial and design positions and currently has a house ad looking for a person to work in a commissioned sales job. This indicates she’s looking for advertising.
THE PLANET Remains Independent and Privately Financed
THE PLANET, as most of you know, is totally independent and privately financed. In any business we have ever run in the private sector, including THE PLANET, The Media Services Group, Planet Media Books, Dan Valenti Communications, and Europolis Management, we have never asked for or accepted a dime of public money. We have used private capital, 100%, without exception, enjoying our profits and writing off our losses as they come. We believe that is what Wade should do with The Informer if she moves it to Pittsfield. Believe in the idea; see if the marketplace will reward that belief. Don’t look for public money.
THE PLANET has worked in commercial media all our professional lives (both print and broadcast), and in every editorial job we’ve had, we’ve run up against “interference” coming from the business side of the operation. This editorial-business tension cannot be avoided, of course. In such cases, you pray you have a boss — usually an editor or a station owner — who understands the press’ role in a free society and is committed to maintaining and fighting for its role as The Fourth Estate, serving as a watchdog over all three branches of government. You pray you have an editor who will fight the publisher and run interference when you get a memo “suggesting” that you back off a story. In broadcast, you hope you have a program director who will tell the station owner the facts of journalistic life.
The press, though, must always maintain a fierce independence. It must be fearless in its coverage of public events. It must represent, if anyone and before anyone else, We The People, against every other interest. Without a free and unflinching press, The Little Guy has no chance. Government, bureaucracy, and every other office of public life will crush him and her every single time. That’s we we have placed THE PLANET in its fit, looking out for the interests of the owners of government and public life — The Citizens. As other media back off from this responsibility, so Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski have an even greater need for a crusader to carry the lance on their behalf.
THE PLANET has in our nearly three years of publication covered and broken many stories, some small and some large, and not all of them have been popular with the “powers that be.” So be it, and more power to us. We have never had to worry about answering to a publisher or an owner to “lessen up the heat” because some advertiser got worried. We are, as we like to say, unbought and unbossed.
THE PUBLIC SERVICE ANGLE
Wadegate once again shows how important it is to have a responsive, open, and communicative media. THE PLANET, alone, has, through our coverage, spurred on a vigorous and heated community debate on the topic of race. In Pittsfield, it’s been long overdue. If we hadn’t stepped into this story and gone underneath the cursory job done by other local media (including the complete whiff by the Berkshire Eagle and local radio news), the community wouldn’t have found out about this incident.
In a real sense, this type of discussion is precisely why THE PLANET exists and why we offer it, free of charge, to the citizens of Pittsfield, Berkshire County, the state, and nation, and the world. We offer what can truly be called “a free marketplace of ideas.” Though we occasionally use the work of other writers, including paid free-lancers, we have no employees other than Dan Valenti. We maintain a wide network of spies, informants, gumshoes, Z-agents, and sources of all kinds in most every public office, and they act as the extension of our senses. We produce and gather all of the content, and we put our name on every piece we write. We do it with the intention of stimulating thought and encouraging participation. We have resisted the temptation to sell ads, and have fended off the calls of ad reps looking to make deals on behalf of clients.
Provocateur? To that we plead guilty. Our formula has proven popular beyond what we had imagined.
On most other local websites purporting to offer news and commentary, you’ll see a story and it might get a few comments. Often, there are NO responses. The Berkshire Beacon‘s online coverage of Wadegate, for instance, produced exactly one (1) comment. On THE PLANET, we typically get 20, 30, or 40. Wadegate got well over 100 comments and an unusually heavy amount of hits. These commentators were people who were moved by the piece to offer their contribution. We are pleased to say that, more of less, the debate — though often non-flinching and rigorous — didn’t descend to a Topix-like gutter.
STORM WATCHERS GET WHAT THEY WANT: THE PERFECT STORM
Finally, to change the topic, we share the news that reality TV ”Storm Chasers” star Tim Samaras, 55, his 24-year-old son, Paul, and a 45-year-old colleague were among those killed when powerful storms, including several tornadoes, tore through Oklahoma on Friday.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Tim Samaras, his son Paul and their colleague Carl Young,” the Discovery Channel said in a statement released Sunday. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families.”
The men died while chasing an F-3 tornado in El Reno, Okla., near Oklahoma City. At least nine people, including a mother and her baby were killed during Friday’s storms, officials said.
While, like John Donne, every man’s death diminishes me, I respond to this with: “There. Good! Great! You happy now? You got an outcome you apparently were willing to receive.”
“Storm Chasers” is an example of the extreme behavior being glorified by the cesspool that passes for popular culture (and the idiotic cable channels). Good to see the going around coming around. As for us, give us “Dick Van Dyke Show” reruns.
“No wonder then so many die of grief, / So many are so lonely as they die; / No one has yet believed or liked a lie, / Another time has other lives to live.” — W.H. Auden, “Another Time.”
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE!”
LOVE TO ALL.