Friday, March 28, 2008

Have you no sense of decency, sir?

UPDATE: Saturday 10:15 am discussion from Town Meeting listserve:
Did Mr. Foudy see the piece before it when to press? Do you
Or was this done by the Bulletin Editor locally?
Any suggestions as to safeguard the process for the future?
I'm not convinced yet, and strongly suggest more dialogue.
There had been too many inconsistencies for a few years now.
What were they thinking? AT least we could claim some
gains that the pieces are going to be publish on Saturday, but why are we having this discussion?
Vladimir M.

In a message dated 3/29/08 9:27:12 AM, writes:

I believe the decision to endorse Stein/O'Keeffe was a joint one between Foudy, Hoffenberg and Julien. But obviously Publisher Julien has the most weight. The decision to run the Amherst Center column was probably just Hoffenberg (after all, it was their normal rotation time) and I assume he also edited it. The Bulletin may want to rethink endorsements in general or at the very least not do them in the final Bulletin before the election. Today's Gazette undoes a lot of the damage (except to the credibility of the Bulletin).

UPDATE: 3:25 pm Apparently the Gazette has some journalistic pride as they covered the press conference called this morning by everyone's favorite rogue Select Board candidate Dave Keenan to decry today's Bulletin (article will appear tomorrow) and Editor in Chief Jim Foudy just called Stan Gawle to confirm his column would also be in tomorrow's Gazette.

(2:00 PM) Today’s weekly Amherst Bulletin (the last before Amherst’s April Fools Day election) debut editorial hometown political endorsements; and strangely enough the ONLY Column on that highly read Commentary page ALSO endorsed (for the 2’nd consecutive time in a month) the identical Select Board wannabes.

Last month after the ‘Amherst Center’ amateur columnists championed Stein/O’Keeffe, ‘Amherst Taxpayers for Responsible Change’ spokesperson Stan Gawle immediately emailed the editor and asked for equal time…you know--the “fair and balanced” thing.

He was told to “shoot for” today’s issue and submitted his piece on Sunday morning--well before the Monday’s 9:00 am deadline. Surprisingly, Mr. Gawle’s column was spiked from the print edition.

Back when I was a paid columnist for the Bulletin (under a different editor and publisher) the sacred rule was equal time on political endorsements. And as I stated earlier, my editor did not want me writing ‘Letters to the Editor’ in between columns.

Last week ‘Amherst Center’ columnist Baer “the Turk” Tierkel took the time and space to throw mud at Hwei-Ling Greeney over political lawn signs. (UPDATE: I discovered who placed her sign on public property and--as I assumed--she had no knowledge of it whatsoever).

So yes, the Bulletin underwent major changes since Publisher Aaron Julien assumed command. Like all too many carpetbaggers, he recently moved to Amherst with his wife and three children.

When he married Abigal Wilson, whose Daddy is President of Newspapers of New England, the new owner of the Gazette and Amherst Bulletin, their wedding announcement appeared in the N.Y. Times.

His wife is a shareholder and member of the Board of Directors of Newspapers of New England (not to mention being “Daddy’s little girl”).

Abby Julien is also very active with ACE, a fledgling organization that wants the schools “to provide an intellectually engaging and challenging curriculum for all our children.” In other words, spend more tax money.

And ACE has certainly gotten more than its share of ink in the Bulletin over the past three months.

ACE has of course targeted Hwei Ling Greeney for extermination and today’s Bulletin goes a long way towards accomplishing that goal.

Greeney does have an expensive half-page Signature Ad on page five (the Bulletin charges 20% more for “placement”) with 503 voters names while O’Keeffe also has the other half of that page, but with only 340 names.

Although Greeney ordered the space months ago, O’Keeffe got the top-half, above the fold, choice placement because she had fronted herself $1,500 back in December as a "campaign loan" and will get reimbursed out of donations (sure to go up if she wins).

From: Stanley Gawle
Cc:;;;; scott ;
Sent: Fri, 28 Mar 2008 9:59 am
Subject: Fw: comparable space foe Amherst Taxpayer endorsements

Dear Mr. Julien,

Newspapers flourish when the residents believe that the newspaper operates in a fair and balanced manner. This weeks edition of the Amherst is anything but fair and balanced. The Amherst Center has had two endorsement articles regarding selectboard candidates. All we asked was for the opportunity to present to the voters an alternative. Based on the emails contained herein,
I was led to believe that space would be reserved for 3-27.

A message from Noah yesterday said my op ed piece came in later than the others but it was e-mailed on Sunday morning.
He also said that my article appears on line and is read by thousands. Well, many voters especially the elderly, either can't afford computers or view them with trepidation.

This has been a rather un-fortunate situation and the horse is out of the barn but I am requesting three things for your consideration:

1. That my article appear as a guest column under the cartoon this coming Monday with the caption "Vote Greeney and Rhodes"
2. In the future, the Gazette adopt a policy that op ed pieces that are slated to appear, actually appear in the paper, not online.
3. If the Amherst Bulletin continues its endorsement in the future, that you consider affording the opportunity of a response by the other candidates that you haven't endorsed . That only seems fair.

Stan Gawle

On Fri, 28 Mar 2008 10:00:43 EDT writes:

To: the editors of the Amherst Bulletin and Hampshire Gazette
From: Irv Rhodes
RE: Amherst Bulletin March 28,2008

After reading the endorsement editorial of the Amherst Bulletin on March 28, I was struck by three things:

1. Immediately beside the editors endorsement was what was purported to be an OP-ED piece by Amherst Center writers Andy Churchill, Baer Tierkel and Clare Bertrand, this was a political advertisement and should have been labeled as such. Additionally, by having Amherst Center and the Amherst Bulletin endorse the same candidates on the same day just days away from the election (mind you that Amherst Center had previously published a very similar article in the Amherst Bulletin) leaves one with the perception that this was timed to have maximum impact on the election outcome.
2. The Amherst Taxpayers Association led by Stan Gawl, was suppose to have an OP-ED piece in the Amherst Bulletin on March 28 also, but it did not appear. It just so happens that Amherst Taxpayers supported Irv Rhodes (the writer ) and Hwei-Ling Greeney, thus the perception that the Bulletin was biased towards Amherst Center and effectively stifled alternative views,but also prevented the public from reading about the thoughts and endorsements of a legitimate group of citizens.
3. The endorsements of the Amherst Bulletin was an on again, off again affair, that should have been better planned and not done at the last minute. By having the endorsement come at the very last issue before the election, it gave no time for reaction by the candidates not endorsed by the editor, thus effectively cutting off the voices of those who would have disagreed with the editor's endorsements. This has the effect of limiting and effectively eliminating any dissenting views from being heard before the election. This is not fair and is not what a community newspaper should be about. Amherst, is rife with divisive thoughts and actions, the Amherst Bulletin should be a place where all voices of the community are given an equal opportunity to be heard, sadly this did not occur.

I am urging the Hampshire Gazette to publish on Monday March 31,2008 the OP-ED piece of Stan Gawl and the Amherst Tax Payers Association that was supposed to have appeared in the Amherst Bulletin. This would correct an injustice.
Irv Rhodes


Alisa V. Brewer said...

Since Stan got his in by Bulletin deadline, I agree that isn't fair to have it only online, and it seems like a Monday Gazette placement is some recompense.

If it makes you feel any better, the only letters the Gazette printed in support of candidates today were all three for Greeney. It seems like in at least some past years the Gazette sometimes said no to campaign letters in the Gazette, to put them only in the Bulletin, but I expect it varies.

LarryK4 said...

Hey Alisa,
As I'm sure you know, the Bulletin trumps the Gazette or Republican in Amherst readership and a Column trumps a Letter.

Jonathan said...

Larry -

I'm in agreement - if they promised Stan they would run the column, then they should have run it. I know you're inclined to see this as a media conspiracy, and to write off the Bulletin's claim that it was a layout error. But they did screw up the layout significantly in the editorial area - see the strange little letters section at the bottom of page A7, where they reprint a Stein letter and half a Greeney letter, both of which are also printed in full on page A6. My perspective is slanted, of course, but I have hard time believing that they would botch their layout so badly as part of a deliberate plan to omit Stan's column.

It now appears that the column will run Saturday in the Gazette, which is better than the Monday placement requested by Stan and Irv. That, combined with the visibility generated by Dave's press conference, your blog, and the discussion on the TM listserv will probably end up generating more publicity for the column than it would have had if had run as originally scheduled.

- Jonathan O'Keeffe

Hwei-Ling Greeney said...

Just a correctino here. In today's Gazette, there are only two, not three, letters endorsing me. One of them also endorsed Ms. Stein.


Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keith said...

Am I missing something here? There seems to be a lot of concern -- from all sides -- that a newspaper is not being "fair".

Who says a newspaper has to be fair? The Equal Time Rule applies only to radio and television, media where the channels of distribution are owned by the public. Anyone and everyone can publish as much printed material as they like in support of *any* point of view.

Isn't that the whole point of the First Amendment?

- Keith Ulrich

LarryK4 said...

The Fairness Doctrine with its Equal Time Rule was struck down by President Reagan, so TV, radio and cable can also so whatever they please. But one highly watched cable news network uses the term “fair and balanced” even though they do not have to be.

Yeah, the Gazette is privately owned so they can do anything they darn well please. BUT they should be covering the news and not trying to manipulate it.

Keith said...

I agree that a newspaper should not try to manipulate the news with consciously and deliberately biased reportage.

But all this fuss is about the Opinions & Editorials page, where every newspaper in the country traditionally publishes... opinions and editorials! Why is everyone so worried that a reader of average intelligence can't recognize an opinion for what it is?

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, I think every newspaper in the country editorially endorsed Dewey over Truman in 1948 and look how that turned out.

But remember, just because the Gazette is privately owned does not mean they don’t get some public help. I notice the Pretty Boy Publisher (there I go again with nicknames) went before the Northampton City Council to get a $4,5000 exemption over five years that also leads to a tax break worth $635,000 in state money to help fund their recent expansion.