Omitting the News is Hard Work

January 19th, 2012 · No Comments · Uncategorized

By Arthur Alpert

When as a kid I argued with my father, he’d often reply to my challenging “Why?” with a smile and refer me to “general principles.”

While that didn’t satisfy, I have come to recognize the virtue of revisiting general (or first) principles.

Editorials, for example, are arguments intended to persuade the reader to a point of view or course of action.

The point of a newspaper as a whole (after making a buck) is to create an informed citizenry; that’s one popular statement of purpose, anyway.

Of course, if the owners of a newspaper want to turn the entire publication into an editorial (as many did in the 19th and early 20th centuries), they can.

But it’s hard work.

After assigning and publishing stories promoting its editorial agenda, for example, management cannot rest. It must also screen out (or minimize) accounts that question or contradict that agenda.

Albuquerque Journal honchos don’t shrink from either of those tasks, which leaves me (selfishly) resentful; critiquing sins of commission is a snap but I’d rather not make the extra effort needed to identify stories, ideas and situations that are missing.

Sometimes, though, Journal censorship is so egregious (and consistent) that even I catch on.

E.g., the grassroots rebellion against several state governors who used the effects of the Wall Street debacle of 2008 against organized labor.

Last November 9 I wrote here about the Journal’s failure to report that Ohio voters rejected Gov. Kasich’s stab at weakening collective bargaining for public employees.

Ten days later, I noted the Journal’s failure to report the kickoff of a recall effort against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, author of a successful attack on bargaining rights for public employee unions.

Presumably both stories fell by the wayside because they contradicted the Journal’s narrative – that unions are instruments of the Devil. (Exaggeration? Yeah, but not huge.)

Anyway, mindful of the above censorship I searched the Wednesday, Jan. 18 Albuquerque Journal for an account of Tuesday’s happenings in Wisconsin.

First, here’s what Associated Press reported:

“Opponents of Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker submitted nearly twice as many signatures Tuesday as required to force a recall election, but still face the challenge of transforming public outrage over his moves against unions into actual votes to oust him from office.”

And the Washington Post lead:

“Democrats and their allies in organized labor say they delivered over a million recall petition signatures against Gov. Scott Walker (R) Tuesday, far more than the 540,208 needed to spark a recall election.”

The N.Y. Times:

“Critics of Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin submitted to the state on Tuesday more than a million signatures, nearly twice as many as required, on recall petitions against him to force a new election.”

The Albuquerque Journal? Nothing.

And no, it wasn’t lack of space. Despite the demands of the Legislature’s opening day, there was room (in “Around the Nation”) for short items on an Iraq veteran suspected of killing homeless men in California; on Nome, Alaska getting fuel and on an Arkansas teen who murdered his sister. The “A” section also included stories on obesity rates and a puzzling “restroom death.”

The inevitable conclusion is that the Journal, as a whole, is an editorial, out to persuade readers to oppose organized labor. So, with all due respect to the reporters, we should read the next 30 days of legislative coverage closely.

Or – gosh, as an old newspaper guy, I find this difficult – maybe it’s time to join them, those young people, I mean, who’ve lost the newspaper reading habit and get their information elsewhere.

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