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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, October 16, 2009

Morning Call, Bethlehem Press, MIA at Norco Counil Meeting

Last time that Northampton County Council was scheduled to meet, it was unable to produce a quorum and everyone just went home. But last night, all nine members of the Lehigh Valley's second largest legislative body were there, along with Northampton County Exec John Stoffa and most of his cabinet.

County Council appointed people to some boards; complained about airport management; adopted pay raises for elections workers; approved a contract with Nazareth Ambulance Services for Gracedale; hired a brokerage firm to negotiate a low electric rate once the cap comes off PPL; moaned about the proposed tax increase; questioned the continued viability of a bi-county health department and the use of casino money for that instead of tax relief; noted complaints about the quality of food at the jail; and mentioned letters about some sort of trouble at a Bath senior center.

The Morning Call and Bethlehem Press sent nobody to cover to cover this meeting, shirking their responsibilities as journalists. Maybe they were watching the Phillies, which I could forgive. But it's a sad situation for those of us who think newspapers exist to keep an eye on possible government abuse.

Instead of actual news about what is going on in Northampton County, today's Morning Call features a column from Paul Carpenter lamenting the annual debt service associated with the county's $111 million bond, adopted in 2001. As the person who sued to stop that bond and actually won when it was just $110 million, Carpenter's story was music to my ears. But that's just an opinion from someone who rides a motorcycle with no helmet. I've never actually have seen him near the courthouse.

What happens when the papers become so strapped they can no longer afford to send people to find out what is actually going on in local government? Are we there already?
Update: The Express Times, which did send Sarah Cassi to cover last night's County Council meeting, has an accourate and objective report here.


michael molovinsky said...

there's an old joke asking why men die before women, the answer; they want to

why can the papers get away with not covering the meetings; nobody cares

Anonymous said...

"newspapers exist to keep an eye on possible government abuse."

That would be a nice function, but I"m not sure the people who founded the papers would agree with that as the purpose for their existence. Likewise, I'm sure the investor groups are likely to disagree... the reasons papers exist now is to make money. You can argue all you want about effectively covering local matters leads to higher profit margins, but something tells me that people with a better understanding of the newspaper industry and selling ads would disagree. I tend to go with the people who are in the business of making money over somebody woh has never published a paper before.

Now, if you disagree with that, then newspapers would have to presume they are no longer expected to make money. So they become non-profit organizations. I guess that's possible, but I don't think it's likely.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yeah, those ad experts and investor groups are really cleaning up.

I see it myself. My readership spikes when I write election stories. People are hungry for that kind of information, and they're not getting it. Do you honestly think those vapid stories draw readers? People want hard news.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the election stories here for exactly the reasons you state. The lack of local jouranalistic interest in our state legislators during the budget fiasco was also appalling. Nobody was asked any questions of the locals.

BTW, is that Mike Fleck in the photo?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yeah, he's looking fora dumpster.

Anonymous said...

In allentown the only coverage on the city council race is your blog I Am sure the candidates that appear at the forum you attend, tell those in attndance the reasons\why theynshould beelected. Many can not attend these forums and would be interested in what the candidates are proposing. when you can not attend forums in Allentown, could you get someone that attended and pass the information to you and you post.iiIt seems MORNING cALL and 69 NEWS care less or they would be reporting on the Allentown City Council raceWhat happened to televised debates

Anonymous said...

No one cares about county government. School boards and municipal governments are much more relevant to everyday lives of most people.

Anonymous said...

I think you can expect more of the same.

newspapers are in rigor mortis. I doubt that they will ever be the same again. I would not be surprised if one of the two valley papers fold in the next couple of years.

Anonymous said...

The newspapers are in the tank for Stoffa, always have been. They love his folksy incompetence.

This is not the place to come for election coverage. Edited tapes, twisted quotes out of context.

Ohare hasn't really changed much in twenty years, he just found a new way to chnnel his rage and anger. You really need to go back to therapy ohare, clinically you are nuts!

noel jones said...

Anon 3:44,

"No one cares about county government. School boards and municipal governments are much more relevant to everyday lives of most people."

Oh, but I wish that were true in Easton. We had 69% of registered voters vote in the presidential election (beating the national average) but only 6.8% voted in the local primaries for City Council. Even of that small percentage, there was a high amount of "undervoting" where people show up to vote for a candidate they know personally, and don't bother to vote for any of the other offices being contested.

If anyone has the magic words, potion, alarm clock that is going to make local elections as important to residents as the presidential election, please post it here! I'm not being snarky--I really mean it. I've been beating my head against a wall trying to figure out the secret to inspiring political will in a disenfranchised and apathetic community, and really want to hear readers' different ideas on what it's going to take to inspire people to exercise their right as Americans and take their democracy back.

As for delivering real news on a consistent basis--thank god for blogs like Bernie's!

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:17, your first mistake is mistaking ohares blog for News or reliable information.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Noel, Keep up the good work at neighbors of Eastom. I love what is going on there.

Ricardo Montalban said...

Couldn't agree more. Feliz Navidad. Yo quiero Taco Bell. Muy bien, Bernardo.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Eicardo, You must speak two laguages, maybe you should run for A-town City Council.

Anonymous said...

Julio is a great guy and you mock his English. He can speak two languages which is two more than you, you racist pig.

Everyone can understand Julio's English, except you and you poison posse. Shame on you ohater, with your history you have no room to criticize. You should go to a seminary just not with the angry priest.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Great guys would allow themselves to be fimed in a bdebate for public office, so we could all judge for ourselves. I can basically understand Julio, but would not rely on him to convey any message of importance. His understanding of English is poor.

I have a video clip of him in action, saying he is going to bring us nuisance crimes.

In additions to the poor grammar, his tendency to wander all over the place makes him difficult to follow.

And incidentally, I am bilingual. Most people in my family are proficient in more than one language. My dad spoke about 6 ifferent languages. My nephew understands several dead languauges.

Julio may iundeed speak two languages. But if he thinks one of those languages is English, he is mistalen. That's simply reality.

I'm not surprised to read some ignorant anon call me a racist for telling the truth. But it is the truth.

The Village Idoti said...

I'll pray for you Mr., Mrs., Ms., or Miss Anon of 1:41 PM. And you get your choice. Do you want me to pray for you in:

1 - English
2 - Latin
3 - Arabic
4 - Greek
5 - French
6 - Hebrew
7 - Syriac

If I don't hear back from you, it will be my choice.

Peace be with you, ~~Alex

Anonymous said...

How to get people to care about local politics? I've spent many hours pounding the pavement for candidates that I knew or discovered were worth supporting. But because I'm not a big contributor, I was always treated badly by the local political organizations. I can donate ezperience, time and energy but not money. Once the elections are over, volunteers are given the old heave-ho. There's a role for local party organizations and it's making people feel they have a voice, that someone's advocating on their behalf. Local political bosses are outrageously egotistical and keep the parties starving for new blood. New blood means nothing to them but threats to their power, no matter how well-intentioned the "little people" are.

Anonymous said...

Bernie... where have you been? Don't answer that LOL. Anyway, look around, the papers have all but abandoned local government meetings. This is especially true of the Morning Call. They have cut back so much that it seems like they do not have local reporters and simply reprint AP wire stuff.

Anonymous said...

The Mediocre Call had all its reporters following a lead story about a German Shepherd in a kennel.

Donald said...

If the MCall can't be everywhere than they should hire some political junky as a freelancer to cover council meetings.

Unless you have an upstart, throw the bums out type of candidate local races are not as exiting as national or state races. The issues are not as dramatic or big. I always had more fun working on local races because the impact was greater, especially when I lived in Easton, where politics used to be contact sport.

Shakur Pfist said...

Bernie, it's a vicious circle. Many newspapers, especially daily newspapers are hemorrhaging money and jobs because their business model is failing under the strain of keeping up with the internet. And no reporter wants to work without pay. Perhaps journalism should be funded by non-profits, 501c3's. In this way a more public service/watchdog aspect could be invoked more fully. It works for npr, why not newspapers?

BTW, notice the government has done nothing to help print and other traditional media journalists segue into other jobs and skills. There are no dislocated worker programs for print reporters. I believe all the politicos are quite content to leave the coverage gap unfilled. They are probably getting away with murder while print journalists starve or change fields as they can. The few reporters working on the mid and lower levels are either poorly trained and cutting teeth, competent altruists on their own personal agendas, or anachronisms accepting their new lots in life.