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FROM ‘JEKYLL EAGLE’ TO ‘HYDE BORING BROADSHEET’: LOCAL DAILY TAKES ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK; IN PITTSFIELD, THAT’s CALLED PROGRESS

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BY DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI NEWS AND COMMENTARY

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THE WEEKEND EDITION, DEC. 2-4, 2016) — As readers of this board know, THE PLANET has been more than eager to serve as ombudsman ex-officio for The Berkshire Eagle. We have been occasionally on hand to point out the paper’s flaws, motivated by a lifetime spent as a journalist, the first five years  toiling as a newspaperman on a vital New York daily. Call it a labor of love.

With new Eagle publisher Alan English on board, it only fits, therefore, to offer praise for a job well done. Before we get to that, THE PLANET likes English’s newspaper background. The paper is in dire need for executives with that on their resume. Soon, we shall be sending English the invite for a chat on the TV. With current and previous execs at the paper, that’s been a long shot. We shall try again, for persistence is an assured presence in a good news hawk. This time, though,we won’t put any English on the shot, be it long or short.

Kudos to Tony Dobrowolski for his recent story on the electronic security lapse at Berkshire Health Systems. Dobro gave us a fresh helping of timely reporting, detailing how a vendor released the personal information of a number of patients, data from a thumb drive. Communities rely on The Fourth Estate to monitor the society’s centers of power in this fashion, in this case, the county’s largest employer. Congratulations also to the editors who were involved in the assignment, preparation, and release of the story.

We hope this story signals a more aggressive approach to the news at the Eagle. As readers of THE PLANET know, there’s certainly enough happening in this community, particularly the city of Pittsfield, to provide a steady stream of stories that fall into the category of enterprise journalism. This is the investigative material that the powers that be always — always — try to hide.

If you’ve been in the news business long enough, you realize that the centers of power — political, economic, and social — try to present a public image where everything swims in a sea of chiffon, sprinkles, glitter, and fairy dust. The journalist’s job is to monitor these institutions, always with the truth as our first obligation. For this reason, the press must always be at odds, through the neutrality of distance, from the subjects it covers. Get too close, too cozy, too accepting, and too unquestioning, and those sources walk all over you. The journalist then becomes a propagandist.

For instance, sticking with the Eagle, we have a lame puff-piece by reporter Patricia LeBoeuf that last week dominated the front page of section one, above the fold: (headline) “Berkshire DA fights opioid epidemic with school program; hopes for grant from AG.

Good lord, where does one begin?

Placement — Why is this story on page 1? Where’s the news? There’s only a large pat on the back for DA David Capeless. The DA, we learn, may get grant money to fund yet another drug program. Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. For some strange reason, the paper presented this piece in that part of the news hole reserved for “WAR IS DECLARED!” With such stories as these, the Dr. Jekyll Berkshire Eagle morphs into the Mr. Hyde Boring Broadsheet. One step forward, two steps back.

Content — The story begins by telling us that opiate overdoses kill people. We’re shocked. Shocked. Actually, the media has been flogging this “crisis” to such an extent that it has taken the form of The Big Lie. True, the flood of cheap heroin flooding has found a willing market, but people make a willful choice to use the Big H. A choice is not and cannot be a disease. Cancer is a disease. Parkinson’s is a disease. This makes heroin abuse an issue of personal responsibility. The social dimension, as we can see from the very failure of programs such as the one the DA is pursuing, proves it such — no matter what the propaganda tells us and no matter how hard it tries to make victims of those who willfully decide to mess up their lives.

The politicians pass program after program funded by taxpayers, and the problem gets worse. Can’t anyone see the disconnect? Doesn’t any media beside THE PLANET dare (not D.A.R.E.) tell the truth?

Future Perfect is Not a News Tense

The headline gives it away, but it’s not until late in the story that LeBoeuf informs the reader that the LifeSkills Training program is, at this point, a mirage. The DA’s office hasn’t secured a dime of the statewide grant from AG Maura Healey’s office. LeBoeuf writes everything in the conditional future perfect tense: “The DA’s office would use the grant …” “ … the DA’s office would be a training … resource …”. In other words, not a blasted thing has happened yet.

Journalism 101 for Patty LeBoeuf: It’s not news, kid, until it happens. Future perfect is not a news tense.

The statewide grant, $500,000 total, amounts to nickels and dimes and will have little effect on a kid’s decision to use or not use drugs. LifeSkills, however, will be a propaganda success for the city and DA for making it look like they’re “doing something” about a personal choice that lies beyond all social remedy.

Missing from the story is the one thing that would make this news. If the DA gets the grant money, how many more “transitional housing units,” drug addicts, or other such communal penalties must Pittsfield accept in return? As it stands, this seedy, needy population — 95% of them the result of the ruinous conditions and riders attached of federal and state grant money — has overrun the city. Unfortunately, Pittsfield has become a dumping ground for human pestilence.

The lamentable piece ends with this quote from a school administrator: “If the governor calls it an opioid crisis, we can’t be sitting here looking out the window.”

The governor is a politician. He’s unable to see what “it” is. It’s not “an opioid crisis.” It’s a crisis of will.

While we’re at it, The BB has to do better that its two brief pieces on the recent shooting on North Street in front of Mission Tapas. The best the paper could tell us was that a 17-year-old was shot. Their reporters left every other major question unaddressed and unanswered.

Memo to Alan English: Hire a cops reporter who can cultivate sources, a reporter who can dig deep and not mind the dirt, one who won’t take no for an answer. It is no boast to say that if THE PLANET had taken the time during an extremely busy week, we would have had the full story within an hour. In fact, THE PLANET broke this story in our comments section without even going after it. We would have put The Secret Squadron on it, and our friendly sources in the PPD, the hospital, and on the street would have spilled.

The local daily took one step forward and two steps back. In Pittsfield, that’s known as progress.

With that, THE PLANET opens The Comment Line, inviting your participation — something The BB prevents you from doing. Have a great weekend, everybody!

—————————————————————————————————-

“Devotion to the truth is a hallmark of morality.” Ayn Rand.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

The views expressed in the comment section or opinions published within the text other than those of PLANET VALENTI are not those of PLANET VALENTI or endorsed in any way by PLANET VALENTI; this website reserves the right to remove any comment that violates its Rules of Conduct, and it is not liable for the consequences of any posted comment as provided in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and PLANET VALENTI’s terms of service.

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Thomas More
Thomas More
4 years ago

Agree with most of what you wrote but the shooting wasn’t in front of Mission Tapas.

h
h
4 years ago

Taconic High ( no pun int) wonder how many kids have smoked or drank?

SisterGoldenHair
SisterGoldenHair
4 years ago

Well being Pittsfield there is sure to be another soon so maybe the boring broadsheet will get a story next time. By the way I received a call from an Eagle salesperson who went on and on and on and on and finally I shut her down. Tried to get me to renew. For what? Yesterdays news tomorrow with a liberal bend. Nope!

Dilly Dally
Dilly Dally
4 years ago

The Eagle at one time was the best of the best.When you have watered down staff, this is what happens. They should go the way of the Planet, use B H S and the Banks as main sponsors. If the Planet asked for subscription fee, I’d would pay it, this is a great site.

Shakes His Head
Shakes His Head
4 years ago

When opioids deaths approach gun and car crash deaths it is a significant public heath issue. Even if it was not a chemical and physical addiction as proven by science and simply a personal choice one could walk away from at any point in conjecture, then it still merits resolution. Ignoring the problem or shaming addicts will not resolve the what really is an epidemic.

Aunt Millie
Aunt Millie
Reply to  Shakes His Head
4 years ago

Absolutely correct, Shakes.

Aunt Millie
Aunt Millie
Reply to  danvalenti
4 years ago

“seedy, needy population”? “human pestilence”?

Of course we know DV Wonder would never shame the addicts.

K-Man
K-Man
Reply to  Aunt Millie
4 years ago

Neither DV or anyone else has to shame the addicts or the drug dealers. They do a fine job of it themselves. Keep pouring it on DV!!

Levitan
Levitan
Reply to  danvalenti
4 years ago

It’s reasonable to accept as an assumption that it’s the behavior surrounding addictions that is pestilential and seedy, not the person. Those who escape addictions also rehabilitate their reputations.

I feel that Mr. Valenti makes a good argument for recharacterizing this trend as a failure of will. The disease argument is old, but it assumes inevitability. But, there has got to be no worse punishment to a medical provider than to expect one to stop an addict from being an addict. Talk about modern day Sisyphus, where the rock takes the form of an insidious personality.

School programs tend to be mocked by students who view the messengers as stodgy outsiders. Their message is mostly dead on arrival once the students are herded into an auditorium with the stern warning that ‘this is going to be good for you ‘. The message needs to come from trusted sources be it church, elder friends, or family.

Levitan
Levitan
Reply to  Levitan
4 years ago

But, this issue is complex. Addiction/dependence is a medical term and often involves medical intervention and consultations. Addicts are frequently dual-diagnosed with othe maladies such as ADHD, depression. Family history of addiction produces genetic risk. Ruling the medical options out is unhelpful.

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
Reply to  Levitan
4 years ago

Heroin is a hardcore painkiller. No one is asking why are so many people in so much pain. I believe the root cause of this crisis is the lack of living wage jobs and the breakdown of the family. I also believe doctors were over prescribing pain meds and when the government cracked down the doctors cut everyone one off without tapering them down. If you cut people off like that they go into withdrawals and that’s when people turn to the streets. With street drug you never know the purity and overdoses happen. Now the doctors are opening methadone clinics to “treat” the addicts they created…go figure!

heh heh
heh heh
4 years ago

If you get Mr English in for an interview ask him if he has to run his copy before city hall before he sends it to the printer. When he says no, ask him if he is willing to take a lie detector test.

I would not be too critical of the actual reporters because I imagine they are told to stay within strict guidelines regarding what they can say and about whom they can say it. When was the last time you read anything even slightly critical of city hall? Pittsfield government is hardly perfect but you would never know it by reading the local daily.

I will scan over a free copy but would feel like a sucker if I paid for it.

The School Committee
The School Committee
4 years ago

I am interested as to why the Eagle won’t report a attempted murder in front of the new Hotel on North.Why won’t they investigate what happened at Herberg school one year ago.
The police are called to Pittsfield schools everyday.Just assign a reporter to follow and report.People will by the Eagle again if they report what’s really going on in schools.

heh heh
heh heh
Reply to  The School Committee
4 years ago

The schools you talk about are high performing bastions of wonderment for many very very lucky children. There are private schools in England that drool over the results achieved in Pittsfield public schools. Ask any teacher or school employee and they will tell you about the happy children that skip to school each day anticipating the new basket of knowledge that awaits them.

And at such a bargain price too!

Recent double blind studies show that if you sneak up and dump a Gatorade bucket of money over your administrative educators shoulders they will smile widely. And these smiles are then passed down to the children who willingly leave their pot and weapons at home and hungrily apply themselves to their studies each and every day regardless if they have school supplies.

RobEM
RobEM
4 years ago

The last real reporter that the Eagle had was Theo Stein. Did a good job on the PCB issue. Now they have storytellers.

Really?
Really?
4 years ago

Really?

The shooting wasn’t in front of Hotel On North either. It was that hip bar that’s name begins with a M. I hear they have the whole incident on tape.

Dilly Dally
Dilly Dally
Reply to  Really?
4 years ago

You are correct, but fact remains Hotel North was in range from the incident, and Hotel North is an important Landmark. Won’t be long before the City removes the benches in front of buildings, the rif raff is starting to pile up, seen one druggie sleeping in the on the damn bench.

Pat
Pat
4 years ago

The Berkshire Eagle needs to write articles for intelligent readers. Anybody can pick apart their articles very easily and see the bias dripping from so many of them. The first question I ask myself when reading the BB is what nonsense are they trying to convince me to believe today?

Watching Good Morning Joe today and they said the same people that voted for Obama in the last election voted for Trump this time and that is why Clinton lost this election. It proves that the tired and insulting excuse used by Dems that bigots won the election for Trump is just not true. Like most intelligent people didn’t already know that. Those same bigots voted for Obama. The problem is the Democratic message on the economy. The Dems aren’t interested in the economy. They are all about social issues. I don’t see that changing with Pelosi leading that party.

Pat
Pat
Reply to  danvalenti
4 years ago

Totally agree Dan V.

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
4 years ago

The Berkshire Eagle is still a rag!

Still Wondering
Still Wondering
4 years ago

The “face” of the “BB” is and will always be the editorial pages. The daily liberal screed, fresh from the daily fax from the DNC never contains anything new or useful. We’ve read it so many times that I for one stopped reading it years ago. the Op-ed columns are no better.
So until there is more balance in the OPINIONS expressed by the BB people will not take the paper seriously. Granted, the occupants of the liberal echo chamber are happy with the way things are now. Bubble dwellers are like that and they will whine loudly if real news makes its way into their field of vision.
But too bad liberals, you lost! You lost big. The fact that all of the Berkshires politicians are Dims does not change the new reality in the rest of the USA. Prepare yourself for shedding a bucket of tears.

heh heh
heh heh
Reply to  Still Wondering
4 years ago

I am prepared to shed a bucket of tears. Because we are headed back to war and this has the potential to go global. It also has the potential to come to our shores. You have a bunch of egotistical macho hotheads steering this ship now but it will be the blue collar kids shedding the blood.

Aunt Millie
Aunt Millie
Reply to  heh heh
4 years ago

“We are face to face with history and, quite simply, we must not be afraid! We must maintain the same enthusiasm and faith that we have up to now.”

– Che Guevara

Levitan
Levitan
Reply to  Aunt Millie
4 years ago

Che is pretty silly, given his place in history. Made a pretty tee shirt, I’ll give him that.

The School Committee
The School Committee
Reply to  heh heh
4 years ago

Got that right

Levitan
Levitan
Reply to  heh heh
4 years ago

The world has become more dangerous after Obama’s policy of withdrawal and decapitating our military by purging experienced generals with punched-out loyalists. It will be luck if we can re-establish our influence without a hot encounter. It will not be to our stategic advantage to be driven off of the map, contrary to the opinion of isolationists.

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
Reply to  heh heh
4 years ago

Obviously you are a product of progressive indoctrination and thus never received an education in school.

Here is a quick lesson for you;

It was the Republican Party which mobilized for and won the Civil War sending 300,000 white Christian northerners to their deaths in the doing.

It was the Republican Party which passed the 13, 14, and 15th amendments freeing blacks from slavery, granting them citizenship and the right to vote.

It was the Republican Party who passed the civil rights acts of the 1860’s.

It was the Dems who when in power in the 1890’s repealed those acts.

It was the Dems who went on to create Jim Crow and seperate but equal.

It was the Dems who created the KKK which went on to murder 3000 Republicans, 2000 of them black and 1000 of them white.

It was Dems who lionized Grand Wizard Senator Byrd who was an active recruiter for the K.

It was the Republicans who passed the 1950s Civil Rights Act.

It was Dem LBJ who said he’d have the ‘Nword’ voting Dem for 200 years.

It was the Republicans who passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, more Republicans voted for it than Dems.

Liberal hero Margaret Sanger was a Progressive Liberal who advocated genocide of blacks… Still practiced today. Planned Parenthood has 2/3rds of it’s ‘clinics’ in Black neighborhoods.

Before Liberals controlled the big cities blacks had families, businesses, good education, ran banks and insurance companies, went to church and were not addicted to drugs or incarcerated like they are today.

Liberals have bought the black vote for a hand out and in the doing have stolen their liberty. It’s conservatives who want their fellow citizens to be free, independent, safe, happy and proud.

NBI
NBI
4 years ago

Well at least we learned a few things in yesterday’s hard hitting and very confusing story about the new parking system. For example, Laurie Tierney of HON is very excited that the new system is finally joining the 20th century! The article also mentioned that they and Paul Rich, each have private parking in the rear. So in reality, this system won’t impact their wealthy clientele. Why even quote them?

I travel North Street frequently and have never witnessed a car load of guests arriving at HON. Is the city charging them the new hourly rate for all of the unused “valet parking spots” in front? Seems only fair since its lost revenue. Might even help offset the unbelievable $1MM operating cost.

One last question. Does anyone know where the folks living in all the new market rate apartments on North Street will park? My guess is that they’ll be snugly secured in the McKay garage at a generously discounted rate. Meanwhile the business patrons are forced to park in the open lots and deal with the elements. Anyone know the facts?

12 Gauge
12 Gauge
Reply to  danvalenti
4 years ago

Drain the Pittsfield swamp

Still Wondering
Still Wondering
Reply to  danvalenti
4 years ago

Deanna Ruffer was a crook. Her quote is in the Pittsfield Hall of Shame. “But we have to spend the money otherwise we’ll lose it.” Of course what followed was over 3 years of construction (with the toadies insisting the project was on schedule so what’s the problem?) that resulted in the mess that is North Street today.

Thomas More
Thomas More
4 years ago

Those paying $1400/month to live in the Onota Building pay another $70.00/month to park at McKay. Don’t know if that’s a discounted rate or not. You do have a point about HON’s free parking in the rear. Why does she need the spaces in front?

heh heh
heh heh
Reply to  Thomas More
4 years ago

Because it goes well with the hefty tax break the mayor gave them. It just warms my heart and makes me feel special to be subsidizing so many local millionaires. I feel like a business partner and I am. I just don’t get any of the profits but that is OK because I get to feel like one of the cool kids.

NBI
NBI
4 years ago

Thank you Thomas. $70 a month seems like a huge bargain when compared to paying an hourly rate. I know people who pay more than that to store old cars and boats in barns!

Plus the apartment owner is not paying real estate taxes for a garage, like private homeowners do. Makes the deal even sweeter! More lost revenue for the city, but no problem… the rest of the tax payers will pick up the difference.

I think HON has those spots so their guests get to make a grand entrance. Can’t expect folks to use the back door at those prices. If things keep deteriorating, they will also need to hire armed valets. Or maybe just put a PPD substation next door.

Dilly Dally
Dilly Dally
Reply to  NBI
4 years ago

Don’t forget the free plowing, well over seventy dollars alone.

H
H
4 years ago

Wathing the Planet, Terry is a great Man! Chris Canning is the real deal and Planet, simply the best!

H
H
Reply to  danvalenti
4 years ago

You’re welcome, Thanx for the non correction on the mispelling, quite sure you saw it was a miscue,lol….Dan, did you happen to see the exchange between Mazzeo and Kerwood, forget what meeting it was, interesting questions by Miss Maz.

H
H
Reply to  danvalenti
4 years ago

Something like….it is not real money………clean the books……..different amounts or wrong numbers, maybe Maz would come on your show, it was interesting and definite Humina Humina moments, with a little gasping and red cheek moments by Kufflinks.

Levitan
Levitan
Reply to  H
4 years ago

H, it aps tgat you, like me, are using a tablet with fullt functional auto-destruct spelling check.

H
H
Reply to  Levitan
4 years ago

yes, exactly Lev.

The School Committee
The School Committee
4 years ago

Planet might address so many retreads hooking on with Bush

mi
mi
Reply to  The School Committee
4 years ago

Planet might want to chip-in with the ongoing saga of the Polish Club’s plight in retaining it’s license, story has it that there is another new Manager, this time, maybe things will get done. The Board is appreciative of the ongoing effort by the current regime and all they have done the last few years, hopefully the Club can continue on in the fine tradition of a neighborhood venue for it’s members and the community at large. Maybe they could try to model themselves after such fine establishments as Lach’s or Johnny’s, which by the way has really turned the corner to become one of the top establishments in the area.

CosbiesLadies
CosbiesLadies
4 years ago

Now Jack Nicholson has a Twitter account.

The School Committee
The School Committee
4 years ago

Mayor Tyer and her advisor are suffocating all retirees. She will resign.She looks like stress is taking, it’s toll which is understandable.Pittsfield has lost 1000 jobs in the last year’s with no adjustment in budget.
Then Im told something which is pure Pittsfield…..The new Taconic high school is and will never be able to consolidate into 1 high school as our city goes to 30000 people from 60000…..Gym smaller that the one they have…Auditorium smaller that the one we already have……Amuso,Yon Tyer Taylor and Bouvier…Trisha Farley Bouvier don’t get it.What do they think when the see a shrinking city……This is the reason business will not come to PEDA this is why Walmart is the only answer.This is why I’m now on board for a neighborhood of Walmart.
If you told me 15 years ago we could only get a Walmart that’s already here to build a bigger store I would say your crazy.Walmart is awesome.
Amuso Yon Tyer Bouvier know pittsfield…..we are spending 100s of millions on the schools….Why

heh heh
heh heh
Reply to  The School Committee
4 years ago

In a very interesting and unbiased report only found in THE BERKSHIRE COURIER December 2-8 issue (which is free where you can find it Price Chopper and other mom and pop stores) there is a story about the dire task of funding education in the Berkshires going forward. It is a must read and something you will not get in any Pittsfield paper.

heh heh
heh heh
Reply to  heh heh
4 years ago

Another super interesting article in the same issue talks about an investigation that was done into how much of the town of Lee’s property was exempt from the tax rolls.

I imagine it would be very interesting, revealing and probably shocking if such an investigation was done regarding Pittsfield property. Probably could never happen and I would imagine a great deal of resistance would come from special interest and city hall. (which are not entirely separate entities)

With all the “non profits” real and imagined, as well as those getting political gift tax breaks, the little guy is given a ridiculous share of the tax burden. Not much can be done about it with the foxes guarding the hen house.

K-Man
K-Man
Reply to  heh heh
4 years ago

Like the switcheroo of Berkshire Business Equipment leaving North St. Irony is that Mr Downtown Rob Proskin didn’t give a crap about his “beloved” street when all the drugs, crime, shootings ect. ect. started coming down. In BBEs place we have..ta da…a non-profit, theater company that caters to the rich and wealthy. Doesn’t pay a dime in taxes.

Kay Oss
Kay Oss
Reply to  The School Committee
4 years ago

Because it’s an economic engine,duh?

The School Committee
The School Committee
4 years ago

Go Walmart….Go Mayor Tyer…Go Trisha….Councilors Amuso……Im told Councilor Kroll is the strongest advocate for Walmart along with White and Caccamo

heh heh
heh heh
Reply to  The School Committee
4 years ago

Maybe he could run his taxpayer funded radio show from the roof of the new Walmart. by the way….is he mayor yet?

K-Man
K-Man
4 years ago

Why and how is John Kroll able to do a radio show from a public high school? Then get to own the copyright….without paying?
market value for each broadcast?

Can someone please answer that? Maybe Mr. Kroll can supply an answer here?

Dilly Dally
Dilly Dally
Reply to  K-Man
4 years ago

Blame goes to the voter and the city council, they could have cut, they should have cut and they didn’t, even level funding would have been the way to go. 500 g to Covanta, Stanley handouts, et al.Sabic homes alone, not withstanding any tax breaks they received! Would have been a reason to at least, try, to keep them here. We lost jobs and property tax on business leaving, a significant amount and no new growth on the Horizon, businesses like Wal-Mart sneak in.

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
Reply to  K-Man
4 years ago

I think it is super shady what he is doing and would also like some answers.

Dilly Dally
Dilly Dally
4 years ago

And School Ommittee is correct, the lighting in the City is very poor. You have someone jay walk at iget, they are going down, you canmt see.

heh heh
heh heh
Reply to  Dilly Dally
4 years ago

They dimmed the lights to save the tax payers money. Then they gave Stanley a tax break so he could buy comfortable seats for his movie theater. REALLY???

mi
mi
Reply to  heh heh
4 years ago

Quote of the Day’ belongs to heh.

Local Yokel
Local Yokel
4 years ago

Good one heheh. And the Boiler we bought Covanta so they can do parades and sell the joint down the road.

h
h
4 years ago

I think the Buffalo Ryan Brothers are the real life, Barney and Fred.

CosbiesLadies
CosbiesLadies
4 years ago

What the heck is going Ohurchill,that outfit by the Horse Farm should pay for every car wash after driving in the dirt in the rd.

Bill Q
Bill Q
4 years ago

Driving down Hancock the other day, a dump truck, barely within the lines was caught behind the garbage truck, being behind both of them was a nightmare, because you can’t passbecause you Can’t SEE.