Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Slanting the news to please a wealthy publisher

The Supreme Court of the United States. Washin...Image via Wikipedia
The Record's story on the Wal-Mart sex-bias case reads the minds of U.S. Supreme Court justices.

Did State House Bureau staffer John Reitmeyer cover the same legislative hearing on Governor Christie's new budget as other reporters?

One news outlet quoted state Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff as saying Christie won't sign a budget that contains a tax surcharge on millionaires.

But you have to plow through Reitmeyer's Page 1 piece in The Record today and turn to the jump page (A-8) before he even mentions such a tax, and he does so only in paraphrasing one of the Democrat lawmakers who have been battling the governor.

Selling out to Wal-Mart

I watched two major TV news reports Tuesday night on the sex-bias suit against Wal-Mart, a Record advertiser -- CBS and PBS -- and neither predicted how the Supreme Court will rule on the plaintiffs' request for class-action status.

But in an A-1 brief , L-1 refer and the major piece on the first Business page (L-7), Editor Francis Scandale chose a slanted Associated Press story sure to please Wal-Mart, other wealthy business owners and his multimillionaire boss, Publisher Stephen A. Borg.

The AP reports the high court "appears ready to block" the lawsuit. Compare that to The New York Times, which reports the court "appeared closely divided" during legal arguments Tuesday.

As if The Record's slant isn't bad enough, the sub-headline is totally inaccurate, saying the justices are expected to "block claim of sex discrimination," even though that issue is not before the court.

Newsroom sex-bias

The spin on the Wal-Mart suit is no surprise coming from Scandale, who, with Features Director Barbara Jaeger, paid $70,000 a year to a new, 30-something male food editor in 2006, thousands of dollars more than the woman he replaced -- a respected food journalist who had 10 times his experience. 

Shouldn't the Port Authority spend $1.8 billion no longer needed for a new rail tunnel on improving mass transit -- not on the road and bridge repairs demanded by Christie (A-3)?


Can reporter Karen Rouse, who covers transportation meetings and surveys, balance her checkbook? On A-8 today, she reports turnpike toll collectors "average about $65,000 a year ... but that could be cut to $10 to $12 an hour if the agency goes private." 

An editorial dismissing some residents' aesthetic objections to solar panels on utility poles doesn't mention these are the same people who have buried relatives with cancer and other diseases linked to North Jersey's notorious air pollution (A-20).

On L-6, in head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' Local section, Staff Writer Nick Clunn reports on a debate over building apartments next to "a 10,000-mile-long [gas] pipeline" between New York City and the Gulf Coast.

Surrounded by wolves

Don't miss the touching tribute to readers, editors, even his wife at the end of the Your Money's Worth column, which Staff Writer Kevin DeMarrais started 17 years ago March 27 (L-8).

I'll give him a pass -- in view of how he's a lone voice for the consumer among too many reporters and editors at the Borgs' Woodland Park daily who have long ago sold out to Christie, wealthy advertisers and other special interests.
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