By Arthur Alpert
What the world needs most is simple human kindness.
That’s the theme of “Cat on a Streetcar Named Iguana”, a musical comedy running through this weekend at Albuquerque’s Adobe Theater and (full disclosure) in which I have a role.
It’s a lovely sentiment, but I do not always measure up to it.
Today, for example, 10 days after perusing the Sunday Dec. 4 Albuquerque Journal, my feelings toward management remain less than kind.
That issue needed a banner headline atop the front page:
“All the News Fitting Our Editorial Agenda”.
Or, maybe, in view of the season:
“Joyeux Deregulation, Ho, Ho, Ho!”
I’m not disputing the Journal’s editorial views, just management’s determination to advance them, surreptitiously, in its news pages.
Specifically, the Journal took up the cudgels for the local construction industry with three (!) stories:
• Front-page report on that business’s alleged woes, adorned with a color photo and two color graphs where it was jumped to pages four and five.
• Front-page report on Albuquerque’s energy code, jumped to page five.
• Sidebar on the energy code, the headline of which – “Energy Code Stifles Remodeling” – kinda gave away management’s game, don’t you think?
It’s just a guess but I figure the Journal believes that if you can’t politicize news stories and their presentation, including headlines – well, why operate a newspaper?
Of course, the special pleading for the construction and real estate sales industries – in the “news” columns – is nothing new. Nor is the newspaper’s consistent opposition to government regulation.
What distinguished Dec. 4 was the number of stories assigned and the layout, which massed and prettified them for maximum impact.
To fully appreciate this edition’s agenda-driven nature, please ask yourself:
When did I last read a similar Journal campaign for energy conservation or to preserve New Mexico from destructive human activities?
Neither have I.
Moving right along, that Sunday’s Journal also contained an editorial on deficit spending – costumed as news – from Andrew Taylor of Associated Press, Washington, about which I foamed at the mouth in a Dec. 5 post.
And that was just the A section.
The front page of B (New Mexico) featured an odd story headlined “Tax Support for Oil and Gas Debated”.
I say odd because nobody wrote it – it was a “Journal Staff Report,” and, secondly, because there was no news angle. Well, maybe there was, but I never put my finger on it.
The story was about moving government “investment” in oil and gas over to clean energy and how New Mexico’s Congressional delegates saw that.
At the bottom of the story, the Journal gave us the views of candidates for Jeff Bingaman’s Senate seat and Rep. Heinrich’s 1st CD House seat.
This, under the rubric, “Proposed Oil Tax: What Candidates Say”
What’s that again – “Proposed Oil Tax”?
Oh well, as regular readers know, in the world according to the Albuquerque Journal, oil and gas businesses are God’s gifts and deserve subsidies while alternative energy companies…well, they’re not Satanic exactly, but why waste money on them?
So the misleading headline – there is no proposed oil tax – was hardly surprising.
Now I wouldn’t have you think the Journal is totally biased. It printed an excellent dissenting letter to the editor from Lora Lucero Dec. 13 and some dissenting Op Eds, including one Dec. 14 from an architect, Anthony Anella.
Don’t laugh; that’s the Journal’s idea of fairness.
Summing up, then, Journal editors consciously shaped the Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011 edition to convey management’s anti-government, anti-regulation and anti-middle class editorial convictions – not in an editorial, but disguised as news.
That Journal also featured Dan McKay’s “Pulpit and Politics” story and Leslie Linthicum’s thoughtful UpFront column on police attitudes toward Tea Party and OWS protestors.
This reminds that some excellent journalism gets done at the Journal in spite of a management dedicated to the high journalistic standards of William Randolph Hearst.
Well, that last sentence may be unkind. Sorry, but please see the third paragraph from the top.