Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chron blasted for unbylined announcement

Pulitzer Prize winner David Cay Johnston, writing in CJR, blasts the Chronicle's management for announcing the possible closure of the 144-year-old paper with a front-page press release rather than having the paper's reporters cover story.

What appeared on the top left hand column of the Chron Wednesday morning was "not a news story at all, but an unbylined 'report.' It is, in fact, just a rewritten press release from Hearst management," Johnston wrote.
    Not one word makes it into the paper from Chronicle unions, whose contracts Hearst CEO Frank Bennack wants to “quickly” rewrite with “significant” concessions under threat of closing the newspaper.

    Not one word from others with an interest in whether the Chronicle dies after 144 years—say, interviews with the mayor, city supervisors, major advertisers, political scientists, or perhaps just a few scattered longtime readers. ...

    Presenting management publicity as news destroys respect among readers and diminishes the value of the brand. The issue is not that Hearst may need to rewrite its deals with the Newspaper Guild and the Teamsters, but that editor Ward Bushee let flackery pose as news without even a passing mention that there was more than one side to this story.
Johnston said Bushee could correct his error in judgment by assigning reporters to cover the story by talking to the unions, advertisers, readers and experts. Maybe even send a reporter to talk to Hearst CEO Frank Bennack and Publisher Frank Vega.

1 comment:

Robert B. Livingston said...

Excellent call David Cay Johnston!

Anyone who wants to understand what makes the Chronicle's beloved Swells so "swollen" should read Johnston's books: Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich--and Cheat Everybody Else and Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill).