The Facebook Data Center Story: Is it really a “Big Win” for New Mexico?

September 22nd, 2016 · corporate welfare, economy, journalism

By Arthur Alpert

As a citizen who has read the Albuquerque Journal’s reporting and editorializing on Facebook’s decision to build a data center in Los Lunas, I am skeptical. I suspect New Mexico’s embrace of that deal will end badly. But it’s a complex arrangement and there are some unanswered questions, so I’ll try to keep an open mind.

As a critic of journalism, however, I’ve absolutely no doubt that the Albuquerque Journal is selling the deal and promoting its prime booster, Governor Martinez.

This example of the Journals’ preference for politics over journalism should be seen in context, but let’s start with the big Thursday, Sept. 15 story and differentiate what the reporters did from the editors’ handiwork.

Did I write “big?” That’s too small a word. An editor or editors decided the story was worth a show, so the Page One layout was as lovely as it was extensive. A bold, celebratory headline ran at the very top:

“It’s official Facebook breaks ground in NM next month”.

Underneath and dominating the page, was a big color photograph of a pretty, blue sky and below, a small color rendering of the proposed plant. The pictures rested on the first few paragraphs of Marie C. Baca’s main story and Dan Boyd’s sidebar as well as a small summary box under the rubric “Los Lunas Project”, that included several facts (and one assertion).

The song-and-dance consumed four of the page’s five columns from the top of the page to below the fold.

As usual, the headlines were noteworthy. Over Marie C. Baca’s straight news account, they wrote, “Data center in Los Lunas is expected to bring more businesses to state”.

Oh? Interesting that the editor should opt for that rubric, given that it wasn’t in the reporter’s lead or her first six paragraphs. But what do reporters know, anyway?

Still it’s a key issue, so why the passive voice? Why not say who expects it to spur additional business? I don’t know why. The editor probably based it on Jon Barela’s statement of confidence about seven paragraphs down. Barela, the Economic Development secretary, is hardly a disinterested party.

In fact, from what I’ve read, there’s not only no consensus that data centers of this kind inspire economic activity but the burden of expert opinion is they don’t. More on that below.

First, however, let’s see what else the headline writer might have highlighted.


How about the breathtakingly tiny number of permanent jobs the state is buying with its millions in subsidies? Baca had that information in paragraph three.

Or the size of the subsidy, found in paragraph five in the jump on A2?

The headline writer also passed on referencing the fascinating PNM angle – Facebook wants renewable energy – about 16 graphs down. Also rejected for attention were Utah’s reservations about both the project’s water requirements and the big dollar investment (18 graphs in).

Of course, none of these headline decisions was made for a political reason.

The rubric over Dan Boyd’s excellent sidebar was even more effective advertising for the project:

“Governor calls data center in Los Lunas a ‘big win’ for state”.

Yes, she did that. And yes, Boyd dutifully reported it. But to his credit and from the very top, he described a complex reality. His lead, for example, reminded readers New Mexico “missed out” on a Tesla battery factory two years ago. Some readers may have remembered Tesla projected 6500 permanent jobs. Facebook promises 30 to 50.

And Boyd’s second graph noted one group had “concerns about generous state subsidies and tax breaks used to lure Facebook to the state.”

He was referring, we learn in paragraph 10 in the A3 jump, to the “Albuquerque-based Rio Grande Foundation.” Paul Gessing, its president, “expressed wariness over the incentive package Facebook is getting.”

“I don’t see this (project) as some sort of game-changer,” Gessing told the daily, adding it’s unclear the project will benefit the surrounding area. “I’m not going to break out the champagne bottles.”

Wow! This is Paul Gessing, the Journal’s hero, its go-to guy on everything.  Yet a reader would have to read all the way to A3 to learn what he said. And the headline writer failed to pick up on anything he said. Nor was his disenchantment reflected in a pull-quote. There were no pull-quotes. I mention that not just because they’re kind to the eyes, breaking up walls of words, but also because they can grab readers.

Tangent Alert! While Boyd correctly identified the Rio Grande Foundation as Albuquerque-based, readers might have profited more from knowing it’s an arm of the Koch brothers’ political network.

Tangent Alert 2!  Once again the Albuquerque Journal surveyed expert opinion ranging – if “ranging” is the word – from the political right to the political far right.)

Returning to our analysis, Gessing’s lack of enthusiasm for the state’s deal probably found sympathetic ears among economic development experts (see below) as well as critics of corporate welfare on the political left.

After all, Facebook topped $2 billion in quarterly profits for the second quarter this year, only six months after crossing the billion-dollar mark for the first time. (Deepa Seetharaman, Wall Street Journal July 27.) That made it the fourth most valuable listed company in the US.

So where was the other sidebar? The piece that asks why the State of New Mexico, facing a $589 million budgetary shortfall, is investing millions in tax subsidies and tax breaks for 50 permanent jobs (and hundreds of construction jobs), I mean.

Rhetorical question.

Of course, the Governor and the Journal may be correct in proclaiming the Facebook center will spur economic development. But, Lord, need I say this? That’s for the Journal to say in an editorial (as it did Sunday). Newspapers do not editorialize in their news columns, not since William Randolph Hearst, anyway. Newspapers adduce evidence and provide context to help readers make informed decisions.

Well, real newspapers do.

Moving right along, Boyd’s fine sidebar certainly began the job. And were the Journal editors editors, not political commissars, they would have assembled lots more information on the project by now. For example, Boyd reported a big discrepancy on the Facebook plant’s water requirements. What’s the answer? And where’s the water coming from?

Also, to return to the Journal’s headline assertion, will the Facebook plant spur economic development or not?

I did some Googling and came up with reports and analyses suggesting it won’t.

Iowa has lots of data centers, two Microsofts (a third coming) two Facebooks, two Googles and a smattering of smaller plants, but fewer than 300 jobs in all, writes Dave Swenson (“Data Centers Do Not Make Iowa a High Tech State,” July 25).

“Once up and running, data centers have very lean connections to the rest of Iowa’s economy, as well,” he continues. “Yes, they will buy gargantuan amounts of electricity, but they will require precious little else. They will neither tap into nor stimulate technology sectors in the state. They are big, remote, and super-secure hot boxes that have, literally, hardly anything to do with the rest of Iowa.”

Swenson, a professor at Iowa State who’s studied the economic impact of technical facilities, told KOAT’s Matt Howerton:

“At the price you’re paying for it, it’s a net loss to the regional economy,” Swenson said. “Your taxpayers will never be paid back, and all you’re doing is enriching Facebook investors.”

A NY Times piece by Quentin Hardy Aug. 26 was headlined  “Cloud Computing Brings Sprawling Centers, but Few Jobs, to Small Towns” included this discouraging paragraph:

“As small as the staffs at these mammoth facilities are, companies say, perhaps a third of the company jobs will eventually be filled by robots.”


Case Study: Server Farms”, on, a subsidy-tracking website, quotes one John Rath of Rath Consulting:

“Attracting data centers to cities and states is big business. Cities go all out to offer whatever they can to companies that will bring this type of business to their area. Internet companies have received unprecedented incentives and tax breaks to locate their data centers throughout the U.S.

So intense is the competition, that subsidy offerings frequently exceed any projected wages or taxes. Moreover, these are some of the most profitable growth companies in the country, ones with billions in profits that have no need for the millions that hard-strapped communities are shelling out.”

Mike Rogoway’s readable and neutral piece in the Oregonian (Portland) Oct.12 2015 was headlined “Rural Towns Farm More Servers, Fewer Crops”.

I couldn’t find articles arguing that data centers do spur local economies, but my surfing skills are poor. I’m sure they exist.

Let’s say, though, the state’s Facebook deal is a fait accompli. Here’s a job for a newspaper, asking if New Mexico will monitor the subsidies to see if they help or hurt. Wanna bet the Journal declines that task?

There’s more to say on this subject, most crucially how the Journal’s selling of the Facebook project was predictable given its record on business news and the protection of the Governor.

Another time.

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The Journal’s Trump Problem

September 1st, 2016 · journalism

By Arthur Alpert

We’ve already done three performances of “Electoral Dysfunctions”, eight short plays on political themes at the new Vortex on Carlisle, with two more weekends to go, but I’m feeling pretty good about my role. I wrote and perform –in a Trumpian wig – an introduction to the show that Sunday’s audience, bless ‘em, found funny.

That’s satisfying because it isn’t easy to provoke laughter about a man whose real political efforts are no laughing matter.

As the Albuquerque Journal’s coverage of Mr. Trump is no laughing matter.

As you surely noticed, the Journal didn’t want the Donald to be the GOP nominee. It ran news stories and opinion pieces favoring Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin first and after he dropped out, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. Its “news stories” and opinion pieces consistently reflected the paper’s distaste for Trump.

I wrote about this April 29 and May 8, expressing pity for the Journal’s political commissars, wondering how they would extricate themselves from the corner into which they’d painted themselves when Trump won.

Well, they tried in an editorial Friday, Aug. 5, headlined:

“Trump should step aside and let a statesman run”.

Read it for yourself, please, and you’ll see that the Journal’s fundamental objection to the candidate is a “temperament…ill-suited to lead America and the free world.”

His temperament? That is their problem?

Funny, but I might have expected the editorialist to note a few other limitations. Like the following culled exclusively from Republicans and other right-of-center commentators:

I am shocked that the oh-so-moralistic Albuquerque Journal didn’t find that bothersome.

  • “Trump has hired and elevated some of the very worst people in American politics, known for their cruelty, radicalism, prejudice and corruption,” wrote Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson Aug. 25. Gerson was speechwriter, senior policy adviser and member of the Iraq Study Group in George W. Bush’s White House.

Gerson’s objections didn’t make it into the Journal editorial either.

  • “Trump also would undermine democracy abroad by virtue of his disrespect for democratic norms at home. He has endorsed torture and other illegal acts of war, disparaged freedom of the press, undermined a free judiciary, campaigned by invective rather than debate and warned critics that they will suffer if he is elected. And if all that is not enough to give comfort to authoritarian rulers with similar values, Trump has expressed open admiration for the world’s worst thugs, from Russia’s Vladi­mir Putin to the butchers of Tiananmen Square.”

That’s an Aug. 28 view from Fred Hiatt, the rightist WaPo editorialist. Journal editors have published him on the Op Ed pages a half-dozen times.

George Will has been screaming at top of his voice for the GOP to resist Trump. He did that in a July 29 column headlined “How entangled with Russia is Trump?” The Journal didn’t publish it.

He did it a few days later, Aug. 3, in a column headlined “Trump’s shallowness runs deep”. The Journal didn’t publish it.

He did it again August 6 under the headline “The sinking fantasy that Trump would defend the Constitution” and no, the Journal didn’t publish it.

(Winthrop Quigley did cite Will’s opposition to Trump in an UpFront column Aug. 20.)

Meanwhile, Mr. Will discovered he’s a man of principle and announced he would quit the Republican Party because it was running Trump for president. (That was reported widely in late June.)

Of course, the Journal has never reported that. Too busy, I presume, demanding transparency from all Creation.

And then there is Jennifer Rubin, author of the right-wing “Right Turn” blog for the Washington Post in which she takes no prisoners. This tough lady has so impressed the Journal’s editors that they’ve published her on the Op Ed page about 10 times.

But two recent Rubin “Right Turn” essays (Aug. 9, 10) blamed the GOP for failing to take on Trump. Her second piece concluded:

“If Clinton now sounds like a Republican (respect for the military, defense of the rule of law, respect for religious minorities), it’s because Republicans forfeited much of the center-right ground in a fruitless effort to out-crazy Trump. If Clinton is smart, she will keep at it, creating a vast center-left to center-right coalition. She did not so much steal the GOP’s issues and thoughtful voters; rather, the GOP gave up on both. Now, it’s too late to get them back.”

This time, the editors found neither Rubin essay inspiring.

Enough. What they believe Trump is is abundantly clear.

But what is the Albuquerque Journal? What does our local daily tell us about itself when it openly politicks for candidates and causes in its so-called news pages and then, editorially, falls to its knees to ask Mr. Trump to quit because his “temperament” is ill-suited to the job even as it censors serious observations about the candidate and the GOP from rightist friends?

The answers, I suspect, may be found in various and sundry political considerations that have the Journal tied up in knots. Unfortunately, I cannot dive in without embroiling myself in the political. So let’s just say what’s patently clear – the Journal’s actions do not describe a journalistic operation.

You’re free, of course, to arrive at your own conclusions. To laugh, too, or cry.

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August 21st, 2016 · journalism

By Arthur Alpert

A thousand years ago when I was young, the Arts and Entertainment editor at my Big Apple newspaper sent me to review a Lenny Bruce show in Greenwich Village. Bruce wasn’t funny at all. What I didn’t know at the time was that he was on his last legs, succumbing to drugs and paranoia. Still, I’ve never forgotten how he ended his routine.

Bruce portrayed a comedian on the way down. Bombing in his gig at the London Palladium, failing to get laughs, this comic desperately pulls out a flag and embarks on a patriotic song-and-dance.

Ever the moralist, Bruce was riffing on Samuel Johnson’s 1775 pronouncement, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

These days, that’s no longer news. We’ve seen countless scoundrels (and “losers,” as Mr. Trump might say) revert to patriotism or law-and-order or scapegoating to divert attention from something they don’t want you to see.

Yes, the key word is “diversion.”

What inspired these thoughts was the Albuquerque Journal’s lead story today, Thursday, Aug. 18, headlined “Gov. to push for return of New Mexico death penalty”.

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Let No Journalistic Malfeasance Go Unremarked

August 8th, 2016 · journalism

By Arthur Alpert

So where do I start? That’s the question whenever I sit down at the iMac because every issue of the Albuquerque Journal begs for corrective action and ideally we should let no journalistic malfeasance go unremarked.

Where do I start and (given that my time and energy are finite), which issues do I merely cite and which require a full post?

Case in point, take the Journal’s Page One story Sunday, July 31 headlined “UNMHSC lab assistant’s notebook details use, condition of fetal tissue”.

It ran under Rick Nathanson’s byline. Poor Rick, designated spear-carrier in the Journal’s latest political campaign-cum-news coverage, its relatively new war on Roe v. Wade.

The editors’ decision to run that account on Page One underscores the Journal’s move over the years from political conservatism to the Far Right and the substitution of heavy bias for generally fair news coverage. As for the issue of abortion coverage, please re-read Denise Tessier’s extraordinary March 24 post here.

In the same Sunday paper, Journal editors ran three columns on charter schools side by side on the Op Ed page, as if to demonstrate a variety of opinion. Ah, but on closer examination, two were pro-charter and the third argued the state might not be able to afford more of them right now. Where was the principled opposition to charter schools?

It wasn’t there.

Which makes a kind of sense. The Journal’s editorials assume that politicians and business people should make school policy. And since there’s no wall between editorial and news, it is only logical that the argument against charters gets short shrift in both its “news” and opinion pages.

In other words, the editors publish former assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch (or local educators who agree with her) on school issues as often as they print, say Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz or Dean Baker on economics.

That is, never.

Which reminds me. Just this morning (Monday, Aug. 8), I was reading Krugman’s argument in the NY Times that now is the time, given historically low interest rates, for the government to borrow and invest in infrastructure.

And I’d already skimmed Lawrence Summers’ Washington Post column headlined “Growth and fairness aren’t a trade-off”, the last paragraph of which includes:

“What is needed is more demand for the product of business. This is the core of the case for policy approaches to raising public investment, increasing workers’ purchasing power and promoting competitiveness.”

Now I often disagree with Krugman’s politics, which are liberal. And I’ve never forgiven Summers’ collaboration with Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin and Wall Street in fostering the Lesser Depression. Still, Krugman has a Nobel in economics and Summers an impressive resume including chief economist for the World Bank. So I read their economics advice carefully and take note when they agree.

I read them in the Times and Washington Post, respectively, not in the Albuquerque Journal, which publishes only right-of-center economics. That means, once you translate to the vertical axis that represents the distribution of power in societies, the Journal specializes in economics of, by and for those atop the hierarchy.

Moving right along, remember when I wrote here about my pity for the commissars? I did two pieces (April 29, May 8) on how the Journal had painted itself into a corner. Even as it slimed Hillary Clinton, the editors also dissed Donald Trump in its “news” and opinion pages. How would it extricate itself when he won the GOP nomination?

Well, in an editorial Friday, Aug. 5, they took a baby step away from the reality show star, a baby step that’s worth thinking about and worth its own post.

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Koch Brothers Watch: The Journal did it again and then ran a puzzling correction

July 24th, 2016 · climate change, journalism, Koch brothers, Uncategorized

By Arthur Alpert

Sometimes I just don’t understand. Perhaps you can explain what just happened.

My editor had hardly finished posting my last essay, with its reference to the Albuquerque Journal’s refusal to identify the Koch brothers’ essays it regularly publishes as Koch brothers’ essays, when the daily’s editors did it again! They obfuscated the source of an Op Ed piece.

Well, it wasn’t a perfect rerun. As you will see, this time the essay in question has a more complicated pedigree. But the journalistic issue is the same.

May we start at the beginning?

The article, on the Op Ed page Thursday, July 21 was headlined “Dems’ renewable energy vision is a fantasy”.

The author was one Merrill Matthews and under his name the editors wrote, “The Philadelphia Inquirer”.
It was the tone that roused my suspicions; a nasty quality that often suffuses the work of the aggrieved ruling class, so I Googled Matthews.

His Institute for Policy Innovation was founded in 1987 by then Rep. Dick Armey of Texas, who later led the Koch brothers’ Freedom Works organization. IPI has received money from the Kochs’ Claude R. Lambe Foundation, Scaife Foundations and the Bradley Foundation as well as Exxon Mobil. I learned all that from,

Matthews campaigned against Obamacare as director of the “Council for Affordable Health Insurance (CAHI), an association of insurance companies.

His IPI is a member of the (Koch-supported) American Legislative Exchange Council. It has worked with ALEC on a variety of issues, including school choice, according to SourceWatch.

In 1995, IPI sent comments in favor of the tobacco industry to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Matthews also is associated with the Heartland Institute, which denies global warming and opposes regulating the sale of tobacco and which has received significant dollars from Exxon Mobil, tobacco companies Phillip Morris, Altria and Reynolds America and pharmaceutical manufacturers like GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Eli Lilly.

Heartland no longer discloses its funding sources, according to Wikipedia, but has in the recent past received big money from Donors Trust (a Koch conduit) and the Scaife, Olin and Bradley foundations.

I think you get the idea. I sure did and was pondering writing about this when this morning’s Journal arrived – it’s Friday, July 22 as I write – and there at the bottom of A2 was a “For the Record” item.

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The Journal and the Web of Climate Change Denial

July 18th, 2016 · climate change, energy policy, Fact Check, journalism, Koch brothers

By Arthur Alpert

Years ago back East, I taught journalism as an adjunct professor at colleges and a university. If I were to do it again, say at UNM, I’d insist my students read the Albuquerque Journal. To pick up tips from some excellent reporters and columnists, yes, but mostly to learn from the editors how to trash the news trade.

The Journal, a hierarchy like almost all journalistic institutions, is fairly authoritarian, former employees tell me. The top calls the shots and enforces the rules. That’s unlike the late, lamented Tribune, they say, where lots of ideas percolated upward from staff.

I try to remember that when I stumble upon a news article as useful for my educational purposes here as Michael Coleman’s “Political Notebook” Wednesday, July 13, on the front page of the “ Metro & NM” section.

(My purpose has evolved over the years; I see it now as exploring the chasm between professional journalism and whatever it is the Journal does.)

I remind myself, too, that Coleman’s work generally is professional and that I’ve absolutely no idea how the editors assign, supervise and edit his Washington beat efforts.

So the working assumption is that he’s not responsible for what I find objectionable. In other words, I presume the professional competence of all the working stiffs, including Coleman.

With that preface, let’s look at the Notebook. It was headlined in the print edition:

Senators denounce front groups”.

Here’s the lead:

“Sen. Tom Udall joined other Democrats on the Senate floor Monday and Tuesday to denounce a ‘web of denial’ they said is being spun by fossil industry front groups who use money and misleading information to muddy the debate on climate change.”

Here’s the very next paragraph:

“But critics of the senators’ strategy – including the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington and the Rio Grande Foundation in Albuquerque – said it smacked of political intimidation.”

Let’s stop for an observation I’ve made which you may want to keep in mind as you read the Journal. When the editors don’t agree with the force of a story’s first graph, they make sure it’s immediately questioned or contradicted. Conversely, when they like the premise, they relegate any dissent to the bottom of the story. Or leave it out. And never, never use it in a pull quote.

But here’s a more serious problem. The account contained no reporting on those organizations to cast light on Udall’s “web of denial” charge.

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How to Report Business News: The Pharmaceutical Industry

July 5th, 2016 · business coverage, journalism, regulation, role of government

By Arthur Alpert

I was not born ancient. First I was a child, an American boy of the New York City variety, caught up in the great debate of my times – was Mays, Mantle or Snider the best center fielder ever – and lesser but still crucial sports topics. So naturally, I tackled the sports section of the morning paper first. I still do.

After sports, I always turned to the general news pages until, very late in life, there dawned on me what serious capitalists and Marxists have always understood – economic arrangements explain most of what’s in the news pages.

So I now reach for the business news after the sports. Well, I do when reading newspapers and web sites that report on business. This does not include our local daily. Sorry, but despite printing a “business page” six days a week and publishing Business Outlook every Monday, the Albuquerque Journal does not report on business.

(Of course, I use the word “report” to mean giving a critical and comprehensive account of events and circumstances, without a political agenda.)

What reminded me was a NY Times story Friday, July 1, headlined:

Brand-Name Drug Makers Wary of Letting Generic Rival Join Their Club”.

Reporter Robert Pear, who’s been writing about the health business for years, wrote this lead:

“For decades, brand-name and generic drug companies have fought each other in Congress, at international trade negotiations and in court. So when the world’s largest generic drug company moved this year to join the powerful trade association for producers (PhRMA*) of brand-name medicines pharmaceutical lobbyists were in a swivet.”

(“Swivet” means fluster or panic, which I didn’t know until I looked it up. Did you?)

After establishing the history of conflict between the brand-name companies and the firms that make generics, Pear delves into a whole bunch of subjects you won’t read about in the Journal except in an industry-supplied OpEd.

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Blaming the Poor

June 27th, 2016 · economy, inequality, journalism, labor

By Arthur Alpert

Reading the Albuquerque Journal’s editorials is unpleasant but educational. The most obvious, daily lesson is the firm connection between the editorials and the news (and opinion) pages of the newspaper, a direct line from management’s political agenda to what the editors choose to print (or ignore) as “news.”

Put another way, there’s no wall, as exists at professional newspapers, between management and the news operation. Not even a tiny fence.

The Journal’s editorials also educate us to the owners’ political agenda. Fine. In our system, owners and publishers state their case in editorials. Since critiquing journalism is the job at ABQJournalWatch, I try to ignore what is espoused politically within editorials and focus only on journalistic issues but it’s not easy.

The difficulty is that our politics, yours, mine, everybody’s, rest on deeper values. And we – the institutional Journal and Arthur Alpert – work off very different basic assumptions. That’s something else the editorials have taught me.

Regular readers know where I’m coming from because I strive to tell them. It’s only fair.

That’s not the case at the Albuquerque Journal, which is why I love it when an editorial does reveal management’s underlying beliefs. When that happens, the job of reading editorials becomes – dare I say it? – fun!

Case in point – an editorial praising financial literacy Wednesday, June 15. This is like extolling Mother and apple pie and I was musing about being in full agreement when I read:

“In New Mexico, where almost a quarter of the 2 million residents receives food stamps and one out of every 2.5 is on Medicaid, that ignorance [lack of financial literacy] puts what’s needed to climb out of poverty in sharp focus and underlines that knowledge truly is power.”


So poverty is the fault of the poor?

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Making the Delegate Call: Journal Editorializes against Itself

June 10th, 2016 · journalism

By Arthur Alpert

Do the honchos at the Albuquerque Journal ever read the Albuquerque Journal?

I’m not kidding. In a moment I will present hard evidence to bolster the hypothesis that they don’t or that they read it but don’t grasp what the words mean. I can’t be certain. But consider this:

On the Opinion page, Wednesday, June 8, the newspaper editorialized against “the media’s” call of a Clinton victory in the Democratic primary just before big contests in seven states, including California and New Mexico.

The headline said: “Media’s call of a Clinton win feeds voter apathy”.

Turns out, the editorialist meant that the Associated Press, which counted delegates won in past primaries and the stated choices of super delegates, was wrong to publish the tally on the eve of the remaining contests.

And not just the AP:

“This was an unwarranted call by the AP and other media outlets,” wrote the editorialist, “and a step backward.”

But one day earlier, the Albuquerque Journal published the AP story in question.


Yes, the editors ran the AP report under the rubric, “AP count: Clinton has delegates to win nomination” atop A3, adorned with photos of Secretary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

So the Journal editorialized against itself.

Now, let’s ask why.


First, they don’t read their own daily. This view has the virtue of simplicity and- bonus!- also explains the typos and frequent illiteracy.

Of course, it’s also possible the editorialist was critiquing the editor who made the decision to publish that terrible AP story.

I’d love to welcome aboard another journalism critic, but no, sorry, that cannot be the case. For it rests on an absurd premise – that there exists a separation between the Journal’s editorial agenda and its news coverage.

But wait, what if the political commissars were well aware AP was doing the Republic a disservice but felt a responsibility to print the story anyway because, well, because, it was news.

Give me five minutes, please, to stifle the guffaws.

New Mexico’s largest daily deliberately, routinely minimizes or censors stories – national, regional, statewide and local – on the role of big money in politics, Corporate America’s political activities, the hollowing out of the middle class, tax dodges of the super-rich, dangers posed by climate change, progress in finding and exploiting new sources of energy, the consolidation of power over news and efforts to privatize public education and discourage voting by, er, undesirables.

Which is to name just a few subjects on the Journal’s Index of Forbidden Topics (Domestic) and ignore entirely its companion volume, Index of Forbidden Topics (International).

So the idea that the editors are committed to printing “the news” even if it bugs them is, well…..

Sorry, I need five minutes more, this time to stop the tears.

OK, I’m back. There’s more to say about the Journal editorial, including the obligatory slap at Hillary Clinton. This reminds me to pick up on a discussion of how the Journal will wriggle out of its “we-don’t-like-Trump” stance and the likelihood it will involve even more Hillary-bashing in the “news” columns. Soon.

And then there’s the Journal’s use of “the media.” Sadly, not just the Journal but 99 percent of American journalism has bought into Spiro Agnew’s fabrication. He turned medium (singular) into media (plural), then inserted “the” to turn the plural back into a singular.

As if everything from Twitter to the New York Times by way of local newspapers and radio stations, cable and websites, were of one mind and direction!

Slime-ball Spiro’s motive was clear – to create a scapegoat to divert attention from his (and Richard Nixon’s) crimes. Why journalists of all stripes have adopted it is beyond me, but heck, it’s a post-literate world.

So we return to the Journal’s very high-minded objection to what the Journal did one day earlier and ask why.

Your guess is as good as mine.

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Finding a Tidbit of Reality in an Unexpected Place

June 4th, 2016 · journalism

By Arthur Alpert

Be still, my heart!

The Albuquerque Journal just published a story on how Corporate America really works.

Ok, it wasn’t a story, more like a paragraph. And it wasn’t part of a discussion, just a quote.

But I shouldn’t nitpick. Fact is, the Journal, whose narrative on American business is a fairy tale in which major business enterprises just love competition, just hate to accept federal welfare and will never be caught buying legislation, just published a tidbit of reality.

In the sports section!

It came Thursday, June 2, on page D4, inside AP’s report that the PGA was exporting the World Golfing Championship tournament from Donald Trump’s Doral resort in Florida to the Club de Golf Chapultepec course near Mexico City.
Trump himself offered the reality:

“No different from Nabisco, Carrier and many other American companies, the PGA Tour has put profit ahead of thousands of American jobs, millions of dollars in revenue for local communities and charities and enjoyment of hundreds of thousands of fans …”

What’s he talking about?

Carrier, the air conditioning outfit, said Feb. 11 it would close two units in Indianapolis, lay off some 2100 workers there and relocate to Monterey, Mexico.

The Albuquerque Journal never reported it.

And Nabisco’s parent, Mondelez International, announced last July it would close a Chicago production line for Oreos and other cookies, erasing 600 jobs, investing instead in Salinas, Mexico. (Trump has been boycotting Oreos for some time, per Robert Farley at, Nov. 19, 2015.)

The Journal has mentioned the Nabisco move a few times, including Esther Cepeda’s column (April 22, 2016) ruing the company’s decision and Paul Wiseman’s piece for the AP (March 14, 2016) where he sided with pro-free trade economists against Trump.

Cepeda’s lament for lost jobs was an outlier. As regular readers know, the Journal’s narrative is that there exists something called “free trade.” And it is good, no matter how many American jobs vanish.

(For those who think newspapers should question rather than believe, consider this March 24, 2016 tweet from Bruce Bartlett, conservative economist and aide to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush: “Free trade is a myth; all we have is managed trade. The question is for whom? In practice, only corporations benefit. Why not workers also?”)

Meanwhile, New Mexico’s largest newspaper plays booster to business instead of reporting on it critically. Logically, then, mentions of outsourcing jobs are rare and questions almost nonexistent. In the news pages and the opinion pages.

Which is why Trump’s comments jumped out at me.

Hey, better a tidbit of reality in the sports pages than not at all.

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