Some Brief Observations

March 24th, 2015 · No Comments · energy policy, environment, journalism, labor, NM Legislature, regulation

By Arthur Alpert

I’m falling behind again, so here are a few, brief observations about the Albuquerque Journal’s daily alternative to journalism:

• “Falsehoods and deception led to senator’s $50K payday” was the headline over Up Front columnist Thomas Cole’s excellent recapitulation of the Sen. Phil Griego story Sunday, March 22.

Of course, it’s eight months since Peter St.Cyr broke it in the Santa Fe Reporter. It’s odd that the Journal ignored it so long, but Democrat Griego worked well with the Journal’s allies in Santa Fe.

And the Journal is dedicated to the proposition that we can understand politics through the party prism alone, the better to ignore big money’s sway in both parties.

Also, Cole failed to credit St. Cyr and the SFR. Graceless.

• “Sen. Ted Cruz to enter GOP race for presidency” was the headline over a Monday, March 23 story attributed to “The Associated Press.”

There was no byline and I couldn’t track down the original AP piece, but when Journal editors drop the byline from an AP account it usually means they’ve edited a lot.

Perhaps that’s why the story somewhat mutes Tea Party favorite Cruz’s difficult relations with Republican conservatives. I don’t know. The editors did not publish a Washington Post account that devoted more space to those tensions.

• Meanwhile, back on the Business page Saturday, March 21, the editors demonstrated their creativity in rubrics once more, writing still another headline to advance management’s political agenda, this time its distaste for government regulation.

The Obama administration presented its first regulations for fracking. This, continued the Bloomberg News account, was after years of “debate and delay.”

In big, bold type, the Journal wrote:

“Widespread criticism greets fracking rules.”

And in smaller, un-bolded type:

“Administration unveils first regulations for drilling on federal lands”.

It’s called using every opportunity to push the agenda.

It’s also worth noting – though neither Journal rubric hinted at it – that environmentalists were as upset as drillers.

• Speaking of headlines, where did the editors learn to write them? It’s true I never attended journalism school, but surely they don’t teach students to comment on stories or hector folks whose actions the stories recount. Yet that’s what the newspaper did Friday, March 13, on the front page.

“Bills in limbo as bickering continues” was the headline over a Dan Boyd report in which he wrote that legislative session bills were in “limbo” and “Roundhouse finger pointing is ramping up.”

The headline writer called it “bickering,” which means (per an online dictionary or two), “to engage in a bad-tempered quarrel, often in a petty manner over something trivial; squabble.”

It’s unlikely the headline writer meant to say the Governor and opposition were debating trivial issues.

That they were bad-tempered? Maybe. Or was this an endorsement of the views of the Governor and House Republicans who – Boyd wrote in his second graph- “have kept up a recent drumbeat of criticism against majority Senate Democrats, claiming they have delayed action on measures with broad public support and brought Congressional-style gridlock to Santa Fe.”

It’s the Governor’s right, perhaps her duty, to politick for her agenda; we’d expect her to clobber those who resist it just as we would expect Senate Democrats to resist and return fire.

As for “bickering,” well, we, the people, have the right to conclude somebody, maybe everybody, is “acting in petty manner” to the detriment of the process.

We, not the headline writer.

• Back to March 21st, when a Journal editorial warned against construing jobless benefits as an “economic driver” instead of what it is, a safety net that, if “legitimately earned” we should all agree is “fair and just.”

Interesting. Of course, somebody getting a few bucks while out of a job probably spends it promptly at the local grocery and for rent, so it does have a small, positive economic effect.

But the Journal certainly is correct that it’s safety net.

In fact, that’s why the Journal really came down hard on Rep. Steve Pearce, the downstate Republican, calling him “hard-hearted” and “unbelievably cruel,” when he called on the House to institute drug tests for recipients of unemployment insurance.

Oh wait, that didn’t happen. I dreamed it all up. Yes, even the quotes.

What the Journal did is fail to report Pearce’s action, as I mentioned here June 10, 2013. Or ask him where he got the idea.

It’s a pattern. In about three years of Journal-watching, I’ve yet to see the Journal adversely criticize Mr. Pearce.

• The last item reminds me to invite you to a game I’ve begun playing. I call it “Counting how many columns the Journal has run detailing Democrat Hillary Clinton’s crimes and misdemeanors compared to how many it publishes – favorable or not – on the GOP’s presidential hopefuls.”

And guess what, the game isn’t about Journal partisanship. More serious, it deals with a fundamental journalistic difference between Albuquerque’s Journal and the newspaper whose name begins with “Wall Street.”

Next time.

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