Article

‘BORING BROADSHEET’ FOLDING OF TRANSCRIPT, CLOSING OF ADVOCATE LOOKS LIKE AN EXECUTION-STYLE HIT … plus … WILL INAUGURATION DAY INCLUDE A WRANGLE AND A TANGLE?

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, JAN. 6, 2014) — “What goes up, must come down. Spinning wheel, got to go round.”

There’s so much spinning now at the Boring Broadsheet that a coat of paint would dry in a Pittsfield minute. How else does a newspaper kill two of its nameplates — in this case the daily North Adams Transcript and the weekly Advocate — and pretend it’s being done for the benefit of its readers and will result in expanded coverage? Two less papers = “expanded” coverage. No way.

Thus, the BB again takes a steaming dump over what THE PLANET considers journalism’s first obligation, which is to the truth. As for its first loyalty, which should be to its readers, that went by the boards 18 years ago.

The Transcript will merge with the BB on Jan. 20, according to publisher Kevin Corrado, the newbie and outsider brought into specifically to engineer the hatchet job. All signs point to an overall plan, which will end in the death of the BB itself.

Just like that, 170-year-old Transcript disappears. The Advocate will simply vaporize into the ether on Jan. 16, joining Judge Crater and Ambrose Bierce in vanishing without a trace.

Corrado gave a creepy description of the move, likening it to conjugal bliss: The two dailies, he said, have “been engaged for a number of years, and now we’re making the marriage official.” To use his twisted analogy, it’s more like the murder of a dominant spouse over his or her weaker partner.” This is no wedding. It’s a liquidation, more of an execution — a gangland hit — than a slaughter.

The Transcript has been running on fumes since the BB took over with the intent of running it into the ground. A BB administrator with knowledge of the paper’s finances told THE PLANET that following the bankruptcy of BB parent Media New Group of Denver, Colo., the higher ups made the decision to wind down Transcript operations to get “huge tax write-offs against debt” during the time it took for the slow death to take place. Asked why the BB couldn’t be more straightforward about its plans, our source laughed and said, “Right,” as in “Are you kidding me? This paper? Do that?”

Here’s another embarrassing piece of spin that Corrado was ordered to dish out cold: ”These journalists will continue to do what they do best — and that is cover Northern Berkshire County. With this, The Eagle renews its commitment to serving the communities of Northern Berkshire County, while carrying on the longstanding tradition of being the voice for the region.”

When did a newspaper, or any local business for that matter, “renew its commitment” to customers by shutting down two branches?

The BB announced that the Transcript’s “current staff” would be absorbed into the paper’s Pittsfield newsroom. Clever. This pledge comes only after the publisher first fired a gaggle of Transcript employees prior to the shotgun wedding.

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The news of the Transcript/Advocate double execution was the lead story at newspaperdeathwatch.com, a site that chronicles the mounting woes of daily print journalism.

“The company is known for its practice of buying multiple newspapers in the same region and centralizing production, ad sales, business operations and even editorial operations to cut costs,” the website reports. “Some former staffers have complained that MediaNews sacrifices journalistic quality for the sake of profits.”

Indeed, according to sources at the BB, speaking on condition of anonymity, this is only the next in a string of many “internal changes” that will be made at 75 S. Church St. in the months ahead. Sources said changes would include hour reductions, pay cuts, job elimination, and “readjustment of benefits.” En ex-BB staffer let go last year told THE PLANET of a “massive layoff” on its way in 2014. Indeed, there’s a buzz floating in the newsroom that 2014 will be the last full year of the BB‘s operation as a print daily. Circulation and ad revenue continue to shrink, our source says, who adds that the recent changes in the online product (redesign and charging for access) “have thus far fallen well short [of projections].”

Corrado wrote this of the changes:

“We are raising the bar when it comes to news-gathering for our readers. In this era of digital media, merging the Transcript with The Eagle will enhance journalism’s viability in the Berkshires for years to come.

“By merging the news staffs into one coherent department, the result is a formidable news-gathering force delivering the quality reporting, breaking news and watchdog journalism that readers expect online and in print.”

… which is, of course, a crock of guano.

The BB is buying the farm and doesn’t have integrity or respect for its readers to level with them. If this is the BB’s version of “raising the bar,” what does falling into the porcelain commode look like? The answer, of course, can be found with each thinning daily product, both print and online versions.

Formidable news-gathering force.” — Yeah, like the one that sacked its sports reporter after one day on the job for doing his job. When the Special Interests complained, the “formidable news-gathering force” through the young man under the bus.

In the end, it will not be the Internet that killed the Boring Broadsheet. It will be (a) its sale to a rapacious, profit-mad company and (b) its decision to get into bed with the power centers that it is supposed to fearlessly cover. The BB turned chicken. It lost its nerve. It abandoned its role as the lead carrier of the Fourth Estate. At its core, all good journalism should be constantly disturbing the peace. The local daily should be a watchdog of We the People‘s interests, not a lapdog of the GOB.

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INAUGURATION DAY: A WRANGLE AND A TANGLE?

Today, Pittsfield swears in its new government. Stay tuned for the election of the council president, which will be Melissa Mazzeo over Jonathan Lothrop in a final score of 8-3. Our spies indicate she will select Chris Connell as her VP. Of course, there’s always the chance of last-minute maneuvering.

Also, the council adopts its rules for the new session. We wonder: Will that be the routine, straightforward event it has been for many years in the past, or will it end up in a wrangle and a tangle? If the latter happens, remember THE PLANET picked up on it first. Should that happen, it would provide a strong indication that the next two years are going to be stormy, with plenty of Palace intrigue to keep us all entertained. As always, the next two years boils down between a choice for good government and leadership or politics as usual.

—————————————————————————-

MUCKRAKERS? YOU BET WE ARE:

Muckrakers are journalists who seek out and expose the misconduct of prominent people or of high-profile organizationsanswers.com, 2013.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

30 Responses to “‘BORING BROADSHEET’ FOLDING OF TRANSCRIPT, CLOSING OF ADVOCATE LOOKS LIKE AN EXECUTION-STYLE HIT … plus … WILL INAUGURATION DAY INCLUDE A WRANGLE AND A TANGLE?”

  1. Foxy Lady
    January 5, 2014 at 10:44 pm #

    Planet you are amazing. You beat the pants off of the bb consistently. We are so grateful we at least have you.

  2. dusty
    January 6, 2014 at 2:11 am #

    The Eagle is much like reality TV, in that it has little or no substantive content and attracts only those who peruse it out of boredom or habit.

    But I think the business’s who pay big bucks to advertise and believe their ads are reaching a large receptive audience are also being duped.

    Might I suggest we start planning ahead for a huge parade the day after this steaming pile, complete with large green flies, officially closes its doors once and for all.

    • Scott
      January 6, 2014 at 6:18 pm #

      It’s odd when I first started my business I got great returns on my advertisement investment with the Eagle but as the economy was tanking so were my calls from the ads now I do more direct and internet marketing. I’m thinking maybe the eagle will be more honest with an outside source reporting that has no ties to the GOB’s but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I mean cleaning house can’t be a bad thing in a sense. I know they fired the whole billing department, shipped all the jobs to India then ran a story on the importance of local employment. If they are for sale It leaves me wondering how much the loyalty of a local paper costs.

    • Silence Dogood
      January 7, 2014 at 9:33 am #

      If I wanted to advertise in print media I think I’d put my $$$ into a few of those very interesting free papers that you can pick up at the supermarket or Levine’s paper.

  3. Still wondering
    January 6, 2014 at 6:53 am #

    There used to be 2 daily newspapers in North Adams and not that long ago too.

  4. MrG1188
    January 6, 2014 at 7:23 am #

    Actually dusty, that will indeed be a sad day. While I am in complete agreement with the near-universal trashing of the job the eagle does, it’s final demise will speak even more about the toiletification of the region than about the death of the local newspaper. Whether or not it’s fact, the perception is that the city and the region can no longer support a daily newspaper. I am a firm believer that the only way to revitalize this thing is to do exactly as Dan would say; become a bastion of journalistic integrity seeking out corruption and exposing it to light of day. A paper that has an adversarial relationship with power nearly always has the respect of it’s readers, as well as a healthy share of market and an ability to create brand awareness and trust for advertisers by allowing them access to those readers. When a daily dies, good or bad, a little bit of the city it covers dies with it.

    • Scott
      January 6, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

      Well said mrg1188

  5. Pat
    January 6, 2014 at 9:05 am #

    Does anyone know if the reception for Mayor Bianchi at the Berkshire Museum is open to the general public. He is being sworn in at City Hall this morning, but I wondered if the noontime reception at the museum is for everyone?

    • B
      January 6, 2014 at 11:48 am #

      I was at City Hall and the Mayor, invited everyone over to the museum, so yes it is open to the public

      • B
        January 6, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

        The City Hall ceremony was long enough for me. I had to sit there forever listening to the mayor brag about all the accomplishments he did for the year, I think not. I was hoping he was going to ask, does anyone have any questions?because I was going to raise my hand! “Mayor Bianchi can you tell me, do you plan on working a 40 hour workweek as the mayor of Pittsfield in your office at City Hall? The opportunity never came about, so I left.

  6. Still wondering
    January 6, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    Life without the BB will be enjoyable. No more ridiculous, finger wagging, DNC position paper, pretzel-logic editorials. And no more hero worship of the Annointed One. No Alan, no Bass, no Krugman, it will be great!

    • Foxy Lady
      January 6, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

      yep you are right, the best part will be no chartak who is even more boring in print than he is pompous on radio. No bass, ruth and milton but especially her. Its like she ran out of ideas long ago and is recycling old stuff.

      Actually bb would make great move brining back DV as columnist five days a week. The paper might actualy get some readers!!!

      • Silence Dogood
        January 7, 2014 at 9:35 am #

        totally agree

      • levitan
        January 7, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

        Wouldn’t that be like reading M Bass 5 days a week?

    • levitan
      January 7, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

      Bingo.

  7. Jonathan Melle
    January 6, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    I grew up in Pittsfield and I like to follow Pittsfield politics. I won’t pay the Beagle to read its third-rate news articles or propaganda for the Good Old Boy network that runs Pittsfield politics. I won’t be able to follow Pittsfield politics from my home in Southern NH anymore. I will still read Dan Valenti’s blog, however. I always wished that Pittsfield would change…for the better, but Pittsfield has always changed…for the worse…year after year after year… Pittsfield is in a never-ending downward spiral. Taxes are very high, jobs are very scarce, there are more people on welfare than have private sector jobs, and teen pregnancies double the statewide average. Pittsfield politicians marginalize people like me or Dan Valenti that speak out against the status quo. Pittsfield spent many millions of taxpayer dollars on “the arts”. No living wage jobs were created in the process. I give up, Pittsfield. Pittsfield will never change…for the better.

    • Joe Blow
      January 6, 2014 at 11:19 am #

      Just set your browser to private and you can read the BB.

      • Scott
        January 6, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

        Or log in and create an account with your email using the name and address of someone you know gets the paper copy delivered. What I can’t understand is you get the same version on a PC as you used to but the mobile site is diff. But then if you have a disqus profile you can access stuff from your dashboard that you can’t if you visit the site normally. It’s all f’d up but nature will always find a way!

  8. amandaWell
    January 6, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    Thanx much Joe, you the man, it works!

    • Joe Blow
      January 6, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

      You’re welcome!

  9. skier1
    January 6, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    The last time the Eagle brought in a hatchet man it was Jim Wall who made all of the employees reapply for their jobs. New publisher seems to be picking up the slack that Andy Mick didn’t do. It’s sad to see the Advocate fold. It was a great paper when Erik Bruun and Bill Densmore were running it. When Martin Langenveld took that over it was the kiss of death.

  10. amandaWell
    January 6, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    if I were really interested in the councilor position in ward 3 mr. Alatura should have Caccamo booted out if he stay in the school position. It’s in the Charter, gotta go Cacamo.

    • danvalenti
      January 6, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

      THE PLANET is not friend or foe of Caccamo (or any politician, for that matter). Looked at from a neutral perspective, and going by the wording of the law, he is “illegal” as a councilor as long as he remains employed by the school department. Even if he gave up all his school pay (or his council pay), the law reads that a councilor cannot hold two paid city positions at the same time.

  11. italia
    January 6, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

    Does anyone have information regarding former ward 3 councilor
    if he had a court appearance today, Jan. 6th?

  12. Joe Pinhead
    January 6, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

    Some interesting questions arise from the merger or demise of the Transcript depending upon ones view. It was only a few weeks ago when the entire Berkshire delegation sent letters to the Federal delegation demanding that Time Warner Cable be compelled to carry NESN.
    From an IBerkshires.com News story “State Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli and state Sen. Benjamin Downing crafted a letter Thursday urging the state’s federal delegation to do whatever it can — even if that means pulling the county out of the Albany, N.Y., market — to keep the station.” Isn’t dropping the Transcript and merging with the Eagle essentially the same thing just a different scale and medium? Has the Berkshire delegation crafted a similar letter demanding they keep the presses in North Adams running?
    “They don’t see NECN as a viable entity to carry news in our area,” Pignatelli said. “I think it is driven by money.” Couldn’t the same thing be said about the Eagle and the Transcript? Could Mr. Pignatelli or any other member of the Berkshire delegation please explain why the management of the Eagle and Transcript are entitled to make decision’s based on profits but Time Warner cable management is not?
    Mr. Downing please explain why this quote is not true for the newspaper industry but is for the cable industry “”Residents of the Berkshires need and deserve access to information about their state government and regional news. We might be close to Albany, but Boston is our capital and that’s the news that affects our taxes, our communities, our quality of life. My hope is Time Warner will reconsider this ill-conceived decision,” said Downing in a statement.” Could we not substitute Pittsfield and North Adams where appropriate and have the same situation?

    It must be for the children

    • danvalenti
      January 6, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

      JOE P
      You raise a great set of questions regarding how the media are treated locally. Thanks for your thoughts. The answer to your last question is “Yes.”

    • joetaxpayer
      January 7, 2014 at 6:33 am #

      I thought think the major difference is NECN is still broadcasting. North Adams Transcript is no more. I still don’t want the Government to tell a business how to operate. It is up to the consumers to stand as one and let there preference’s be heard.

      • danvalenti
        January 7, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

        Market rule, JOE THE T, is the best. If the public wants a product, they will support it. If not, they won’t. Perhaps I should write, “If not, the government will offer a subsidy for force taxpayers to pick up the difference.”

  13. Mad Trapper
    January 6, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

    The only thing that the Left Winged Parrot had, which I will miss, is Gene Chauge’s outdoors column.

    There has been not journalism at that publication since the Millers left.

  14. outfox
    January 7, 2014 at 5:41 am #

    If the bb folds where will I read Kevin O’Hara’s Christmas story every year? That’s the best written thing in the Eagle!