Attention Must Be Paid: Journal's Coverage of McCleskey Email Story Is Praiseworthy

June 19th, 2012 · No Comments · journalism, open government

By Arthur Alpert

Stop the presses! The Journal is digging into a story that cuts against its editorial agenda. That’s the fact and (as Willy Loman’s wife insisted) attention must be paid.

To be specific, Dan Boyd reported June 13 that the Public Education Department (PED) culled a list of non-union teachers for the Governor’s political consultant, Jay McCleskey. He’s paid by her political action committee, SusanaPAC.

Two days later, Boyd reported that a few legislators wanted a probe.

Next day, June 16, Boyd broadened the scope in an account headlined “Private Email Flap Grows”:

“Gov. Susana Martinez used her political action committee email account to discuss state government issues last year with high-ranking members of her administration.”

“Critics,” he wrote, “say the practice amounts to conducting public business behind a wall of private email correspondence and question whether it violates New Mexico law.”

In an UpFront column the same day, Thom Cole skewered interim Education Secretary Hanna Skandera by nominating her – his tongue firmly in cheek – for an open government award.

Skandera’s department, he wrote, “went the extra mile” in responding to McCleskey’s request. Was this special treatment? No, not according to Cole:

“I’m sure,” he wrote, “the special treatment that McCleskey got is just the kind of treatment we all can expect from Skandera’s department.”

Which meant just the opposite.

At this point, I would have assigned a profile of Mr. McCleskey. And to my surprise, the Journal did that. The story by James Monteleone and Colleen Heild ran on the front page Sunday, June 17 under the rubric, “Campaign Guru Finds Unwanted Spotlight”.

Now let’s not go overboard here – it’s much too early to proclaim that the Journal (which once was lost) now is found. I’ll cry“Hallelujah” when the editors remove the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) from its list of sacred (that is, untouchable) cows.

But give ‘em credit – this time they put aside their advocacy of the governor’s agenda, including her approach to schooling and their long-standing opposition to organized labor to publish the stories and columns cited above.

Also, they assigned one of their best investigators, Ms. Heild, to the McCleskey profile.

The reporters (and commentator Cole) did good work, but that’s not unusual.

That management published their work is worthy of note and praise.

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  • Cheryl Everett

    Agreed. The Journal got it right this time, and deserves (as Stephen Colbert would say) a “tip of the hat.”

  • Mark Ropel

    Mr. Albert, somebody there just took a summer vacation, but we can hope, I guess.

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