BB OUTDOES ITSELF WITH PAGE ONE, POST-ELECTION PROPAGANDA … NEWSPAPER A WILLING STOOGE TO THE GAGGING OF DIHARMONIOUS VOICES … PLANET OFFERS VIGOROUS REJECTION OF THAT APPROACH
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, NOV. 7, 2013) — On this “once upon a midday dreary” morning, we shake our heads and feel for our colleague Jim Therrien of the Boring Broadsheet. JT, you see, works for a newspaper that will fire you if you stray too far from the straight and narrow. Only last week did we present the latest in a long line of casualties guilty of the crime of journalistic integrity, Isaac Avilucea. The BB ownership canned Avilucea for reporting — reporting, mind you — on information that the administrations at two local high school found upsetting. Rather than stick up for its man, the paper threw Avilucea under the bus and kissed the royal school administrative rumps.
For a reporter, working at the BB means being declawed and defanged through submission to three simple rules: do not question the status quo, do not upset any big advertisers, and make sure you pamper those who hold the upper hand of power, be they pols, Big Shot business types, or other “Players.” As an editorial employee of the BB, you must always cower before the business side of the operation, and you must never, never question orders from the top or have concern for The Little Guy, a.k.a, We The People, a.k.a., Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski.
You can write all the safe, “moons in June” pieces you want about recipes, dusty glory of past baseball teams from the 1940s and 50s, and other such “good gosh” tripe that eats up valuable news space. That stuff is fine. The more you can fill valuable news space with cotton candy, the more you will placate advertisers. True, this will alienate readers, and circulation will continue to plummet (now flirting with 13,000). Just don’t “rock the boat.” Just don’t look behind the closed curtains. When a politician, business leader, or anyone else in authority tells you “everything’s great,” believe him or her. Use the press releases from the Chamber of Commerce and PEDA verbatim. Do not — repeat, DO NOT under any circumstances — question or investigate. That’s why the area has that pesky website called THE PLANET. Let them do it. Above all, never probe. There are too many hornets’ nests that you might poke.
You can see all this on display today with the shameful, page one, lead story on the post-election. This piece of commentary (a) is not labeled as such, (b) is displayed in the most prominent location of the news hole, and (c) offers out-an-out opinion disguised as fact. Therrien is not reporting here as much as he is regurgitating the party line that Mayor Dan Bianchi put forth during the election when he personally went after Christine Yon, John Krol, and Barry Clairmont. The mayor, even though he ignored We The People’s business to go after these three “agitators,” failed in two of the three cases. Only Yon went down to defeat.
THE PLANET doesn’t know who ordered or what prompted Therrien piece of propaganda, but we can say it fits right in with the sad, steady decline of a once-proud, award-winning newspaper Formerly Known as The Berkshire Eagle.
We shall not parse the story, allowing our readers to do that for themselves. THE PLANET shall even offer the temporary boost in circulation we shall thus give the BB by our reference as a gift freely given, for it is with a light heart that we traipse through this vale of tears. That said, we will point out the word “apparently” in JT’s lead: He writes that the message from yesterday’s vote is, “apparently,” that voters want the council to work more in “harmony” with the mayor. “Apparently” is a word often used by reporters in a dishonest sense to cover up journalistic sins. This doesn’t happen in every usage, but it happens in JT’s lead. Our guess is that JT’s copy editor inserted the word as a weak attempt to justify the placement of this story in the new hole and not on the editorial page.
To which we respond: Bullspit.
THE PLANET offers a free lesson for the BB Poo-bahs: The message from yesterday’s vote is that three out of every four members of the electorate chose not to be involved. This witch’s brew of frustrated, angry, apathetic, and just plain lazy citizens sent a message that is far more powerful than any sent by the tiny minority that did vote. They’re saying that “democracy” is broken and that the results from ANY election that can only garner 1/4 of the electorate are bogus. As the guy who sits behind the deask where the buck is supposed to stop, we lay much of that on Bianchi.
Bianchi, however, has chosen to jump on this situation and try gag any council opposition. Hence, the BB piece. “They” want to spin the paltry results into a mandate, and from that mandate “They” wish to silence anyone — council members, other officials, citizens, journalists — who might otherwise ask tough questions or put the wood to the side when it’s necessary.
THE PLANET can speak for ourselves. This attempt to muzzle opposition only fires us up with more passion, more energy, and more of a desire to act as the Fourth Estate, a watchdog over government and a spotlight to shine on any skunks that dare subvert the interests of the The People. In necessary, we shall do it alone and fail. Better that than succumb, as the BB and others have done, so as to experience a loser’s form of “success” — that of not being ostracized, that of being on “the inside.” Employees of the BB have to ask themselves: Is a paycheck worth my integrity?
Forget about the inside. Only from the outside can one get an objective, dispassionate view of truth. In journalism, truth is not objectivity. It is the heart of every story’s right and wrong.
THE PLANET urges Clairmont, Krol, and every other person who won office on Tuesday to keep in mind the poor, bedraggled, tax-laden citizens of a once-proud city. That is the only way the city has ANY chance of avoiding the looming disaster of financial collapse. We hope they and others, especially those new to office, will speak up more, will ask more questions, will ask tougher questions, and will not roll over and play dead because the mayor wants “harmony.” That’s a code word for totalitarianism.
THE PLANET wants more questions. It wants more toughness. It wants more disharmony, if that’s what it take to rouse The Special Interests from their lofty perch. Otherwise, the perch will collapse from its own inevitable, inexorable, internal rot.
“I call you name, but you’re not there. Was I to blame, for being unfair? Oh I can’t sleep at night, but just the same. I never weep at night. I call your name.” — John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “I Call Your Name” (1964).
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.